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Dental Tourism Development clinics turnover up 19%

Over the past 12 months, dental clinics participating in the government’s Dental Tourism Development (MFTF) program have shown an overall increase of more than 19% in turnover. In reporting on the statistics, local news outlet Magyar Nemzet also reported that Budapest as well as Győr-Moson-Sopron and Fejér counties were among the areas most benefitting from the program.

The National Development Agency (NFÜ) and the European Union-funded Economic Development Operative Program have supplied a total of HUF 3.75 billion in funding to 101 dental tourism-related enterprises at a ratio of about 58%/42%. Another 14 requests for HUF 271 million in funding are still pending.  

In August, the opposition party Democratic Coalition (DK) released a statement charging that the dental tourism development program’s funding process is unfair. According the party’s media department, access to grants is only given to those enterprises which pay HUF 1.5 million in annual ownership fees to Orvosi Turizmus Iroda Zrt, a company run by László Szűcs and Bátorfi Béla, the latter of which is claimed to be Viktor Orbán’s family dentist and was allegedly once banned from practice in Britain for one year due to “professional negligence.”  

Few official statistics from any nation known for an established and/or burgeoning dental tourism industry (e.g. Hungary, Costa Rica, Mexico, Thailand) exist, though media in countries such as the US and Canada certainly believe its popularity to be growing with up to 70% savings on work such as dental implants promised to clients. Hungary is recognized as the world leader in dental tourism, with one study showing that 42% of such European and 21% of worldwide tourists come to Hungary for the work.

A political angle may even be worked, as some have claimed that dental tourism in the Americas is getting an unwitting assist from the US’ Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a.k.a. “Obamacare.”    

The greater medical tourism industry has been estimated to be worth $100 billion worldwide as of 2012, but these statistics have been disputed.