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Private healthcare expanding in Hungary and CEE

According to a broader trend, a growing number of patients in Eastern European states, not least in Hungary, are opting for private clinics and healthcare institutions providing faster access to medical care and treatments, international news wire Reuters reports. 

Jumping the line by paying for private healthcare is becoming more widespread in Hungary and across the region. Photo by Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com

The change is being driven by low public health spending as a share of the economy, coupled with rising wages, which is making private care a viable alternative. As a result, business is booming for private healthcare providers. 

Péter Pál Varga, director of Budapest’s Buda Health Center, “this is a period of conquest for private clinics.” Billionaire investor Sándor Csányi (whose major businesses include OTP Bank and the Bonafarm agricultural group) acquired a majority stake in Buda Health Center in 2017. 

Varga told Reuters his company planned to build a new general hospital in Budapest, and modernize its one existing hospital that specializes in spinal surgery, at an estimated total cost of about HUF 20 billion.

Lajos Fábian, chairman of Hungarian group MedAlliance Holding, which acquired the Róbert Károly Private Hospital in Budapest last year and plans further acquisitions, said private health was expanding at a "breakneck pace" across Central and Eastern Europe.

Vienna Insurance Group’s Hungarian division, Union, said private health cover was becoming an essential benefit for many employers to offer.

However, the EU Commission says the high private health spending in Eastern European countries is leading to inequality in access to medical services. This is deepening divisions in a region where lower-income people already have poorer health, according to analysts, Reuters adds.