Access to health care is provided for asylum seekers as part of the reception conditions. It covers essential medical services and corresponds to free medical services provided to legally residing third-country nationals. Asylum seekers have a right to examinations and treatment by general practitioners, but all specialised treatment conducted in policlinics and hospitals is free only in case of emergency and upon referral by a general practitioner.
According to the Asylum Decree, asylum seekers with special needs are “eligible for free of charge health care services, rehabilitation, psychological and clinical psychological care or psychotherapeutic treatment required by the person’s state of health.”
In practice, there are no guidelines for identifying vulnerable asylum seekers and a lack of specialised medical services. Furthermore, only a few experts speak foreign languages and even fewer have experience in dealing with torture or trauma survivors. The Cordelia Foundation, an NGO, is the only organisation with the necessary experience in providing psychological assistance to torture survivors and traumatised asylum seekers being present only in a limited number of the reception centres. Their capacity is constrained and every year the question arises whether it will continue to provide these much-needed services, as its activities are funded on a project-by-project basis and not under the framework of a regular service provider contracted by the NDGAP. The therapeutic activities of the Foundation include verbal and non-verbal, individual, family and group therapies, and psychological and social counselling. Despite the utmost importance of the organisation’s work, it has not been given an entrance permit to the transit zones so far.
In 2018 and 2019, the Cordelia Foundation was present in both operating reception facilities, namely in Vámosszabadi and Balassagyarmat. In the latter site, it was present on average once in a fortnight and this frequency applied to the other centre too. However, as a result of the low number of asylum seekers (and beneficiaries of international protection), the regularity of the visits of psychiatrists and psychologists similarly to 2018 remained hectic throughout the year, even though the Foundation would have had the capacity for regular visits on fortnightly basis. Upon the increase of the number of residents in the autumn, the NGO was present more frequently again. The same applies to Fót where they were also present on an ad hoc base. The Foundation also plays a key role in the lives of asylum seekers (and of those migrants who have a “refugee story”, for instance students from Syria) who are placed in private accommodation, mainly in Budapest. In 2018, the Foundation with four psychiatrists and two psychologists provided therapeutic services to 107 persons in Budapest, while in the last year the NGO assisted 86 persons.
Asylum seekers have access to a general physician in Vámosszabadi several times per week and to nurses daily, and there is an Arabic social worker who assists with the translation. Similarly, to the previous years though, the access to effective medical assistance is hindered by language problems since translators are not always available or provided by NDGAP. Nonetheless, as for the Menedék Association the efficiency of the medical services regarding capacity has improved compared to 2018 due to the decrease in the number of the residents at the facilities. Specialised health care is provided in nearby hospitals in all major towns, although similar language problems occur here if a social worker is not available to accompany asylum seekers to the hospital to assist in the communication with doctors. A nurse also visits Balassagyarmat on a daily basis. In case asylum seekers need medical care, they are provided with it by the local health care services in town.
The Asylum Decree states that asylum seekers residing in private accommodation are eligible for health care services at the general physician operated by the competent local government and determined by the residency address of the applicant. In practice, these asylum seekers struggle with accessing medical services as physicians systematically refuse the registration and treatment of asylum seekers on the ground that they lack a health insurance card. According to the verbal information provided by the former IAO in 2016, asylum seekers can be registered with the number of their humanitarian residency card and have to be treated in accordance with the law, although not all health centres are aware of this information. The Menedék Association often provides asylum seekers with the necessary written explanation (written in Hungarian) that the patient can take with him- or herself to the check-ups, thus avoiding any misunderstanding and complications. Eventually, the social workers of the NGO even give a call to the doctor and explain the legal eligibility of the asylum-seeker on the phone.
 Section 26 Asylum Act.
 A detailed list is provided under Section 26 Asylum Decree.
 Section 34 Asylum Decree.
 Section 27(2) Asylum Decree.