The Hungarian Guide - Investing and retiring in Hungary

  • A stunning capital with unique setting A stunning capital with unique setting
  • walking and birdwatching paradise walking and birdwatching paradise
  • undisturbed nature rich in rare species undisturbed nature rich in rare species
  • enjoy the 144 mile lakeside cycle track enjoy the 144 mile lakeside cycle track
  • Teeming with History Teeming with History
  • over 300 Thermal Health Spas and warm lakes over 300 Thermal Health Spas and warm lakes
  • picturesque lakes with Carp weighing over 100 lb picturesque lakes with Carp weighing over 100 lb
  • Feast on delicious sunripened local fruit Feast on delicious sunripened local fruit
  • Lake Balaton gets as warm as the Caribbean in the summer Lake Balaton gets as warm as the Caribbean in the summer
  • Tranquil Lake Balaton Tranquil Lake Balaton
  • Lush rolling hills of western Hungary Lush rolling hills of western Hungary
  • buy a thatched cottage for under £30 000.. buy a thatched cottage for under £30 000..
  • horsemen and nature lovers paradise horsemen and nature lovers paradise
  • Europe's second largest freshwater lake Europe's second largest freshwater lake
  • A paradise for watersport enthusiasts A paradise for watersport enthusiasts
  • Tihany peninsula- a pearl of history and nature Tihany peninsula- a pearl of history and nature

Healthcare in Hungary- James’ story

What is healthcare like in Hungary? That is one of the most common questions we get. So here is a story of James who relocated to Hungary in 2006, as told by his wife:

ehic cardWe had a slightly different Christmas than we planned. A nasty flu thingy swept through the family, first the kids oozed tons of congestion, than I got ill, with sore throat, neck pain and general spleen, and once I got better James had a sore throat, but more painful than ever. He couldn’t swallow and hence eat for two days and he was in so much discomfort he even asked for a painkiller. That alarmed me because he once fell through the roof and dislocated his shoulder for the third time and then just walked into the surgery- he is not a complaining type. We had no pain killers at home, apart from the kids teething pain killer which didn’t help him at all. After these days in agony I finally called the emergency GP to look at him, they came a few hours later and the doctor after a brief examination refered him to an otolaryngologists (ear-nose-throat specialist) as she suspected that James might have an abscess in his throat. Luckily she gave him a pain killer that actually worked. The doctor and her helper were very friendly. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) was accepted, so it was free, otherwise a visit to a specialist like this costs 35 000 hufs. ( about £95 ) They urged us to see a specialist asap either in the surgery or at the hospital.

Our friends kindly took the kids and we decided to be hopeful and went to the surgery instead. We had to wait a good half an hour (there were 4 people waiting) but the receptionist said if he had any difficulty breathing we should just walk in the surgery.  He were seen by a young doctor who spoke very good English. She confirmed the GP’s fear and sent us to the hospital, James wasn’t too keen on going to hospital at all, but she told us that if it was an abscess it can be fatal as the sceptic puss can get in the lungs and then he would need hospital care asap.

So we went to the duty hospital which was Szent Janos a short drive from Moszkva/Szell Kalman ter in Budapest. At the ward we met a young friendly doctor who spoke excellent English, and soon we found out that he was in fact French!  He examined James and later called his colleague, they have decided that even though they were not sure if there was an abscess or not, James need further examinations and perhaps a CT.  They both reassured me that it is a minor thing and the biggest difficulty is to process the EHIC in the system. Since they both spoke excellent English I was of no use and went home to put the kids to bed, who were very mixed up already.

James had further tests and a CT but couldn’t confirm for sure if there was an abscess or not and in the morning a couple more doctors looked at him and in the end they have decided to perform a surgical incision just to play it safe. Also he was put on antibiotics, but since he is allergic to penicillin and a couple of other antibiotics- and had no record which ones caused issues, the doctors had to find a suitable one and watch him closely. The operation was awful as you can imagine- being stabbed in the throat, but after a day he was much better and could eat, talk and after two nights he could come home.

He picked the right time to go to hospital- it was empty he had the whole ward for himself! We were really pleasantly surprised that all doctors spoke English and he could easily communicate with all. Hospitals in Hungary can be a little more shabby than the UK and can have staffing issues like everywhere else in the world but I have I have to admit, we only met kind and smiling people there. To our delight most of the meals were vegetarian, so James could actually eat there, once he was given a split pea soup, the next day some bread with cheese spread (körözött), spring onions and a kiwi fruit. Again the EU card worked and he was covered by his UK health insurance.

When we got his medicine from the pharmacy we experienced the first problem with the EHIC, as the first pharmacy we waltzed into just couldn’t process it and wanted us to pay for the medicine. We just went to another pharmacy, where they could process it (having the card on hand really helps as doctors have terrible handwriting in this country!) and James got his medicine on NHS so only needed to pay for part of the sum -  just a few pounds.

So before you come to Hungary get your EHIC or health insurance and the system actually works!