Shorter Waiting Times, Proper Care Lead Patients to go Private


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Patients are increasingly abandoning public healthcare in favor of the private sector. Currently, two-thirds of Hungarian citizens have had at least some private treatment in their lives.

The customer experience can be much better in private healthcare.

“We see patients transferring to private healthcare due to two reasons, mainly. The number one factor here is the shorter waiting lists for both diagnosis and special consultations, as compared to public health care,” György Leitner, president of Primus Private Healthcare Providers’ Association, tells the Budapest Business Journal.

“Another key aspect is the customer experience; what some businesses would refer to as customer journey, is much better in private healthcare than the public. Patients feel to be cared for more appropriately in private health care,” he adds.

Nowadays, private healthcare seems to pop up as a genuine option, even when it comes to basic examinations and less serious diseases, and the number of people using private services is constantly increasing. 

“Actually, I can say that at this level of service, private companies are competing in every area. In areas where we do not provide services, the only option is the state healthcare system,” Dr. Gyula Csermely, medical director and managing director of Rózsakert Medical Center tells the BBJ.

“Doctors that can see you easily and quickly are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with no waiting list, and there are even services available at the weekend. There is quality time for patients, providing the opportunity for them to receive detailed information and counseling,” Csermely continues. 

High Quality Care

“The doctor only needs to concentrate on providing expert care, because there is a nurse, receptionist, financial assistant, care assistant, administrator, payment assistant, accountant, etc., who all have a great service attitude towards both the doctor and patient and help form a vital part of providing high quality care,” he adds.

The private sector is growing rapidly in terms of outpatient care, imaging diagnostics and one-day surgery. According to the latest surveys, nearly 60% of the Hungarian population use private services, primarily due to the shortcomings of the state healthcare system, the director of Rózsakert Medical Center claims.

“Five years ago, it was more typical for patients to turn to a private healthcare provider for specific services such as fetal medicine, screening tests and specialist examinations. Now, because of the inaccessibility and conditions of the state system, more and more people are turning to private clinics for basic healthcare services,” Csermely insists.

The current sentiment toward the public sector is hugely affected by funding. “Hungary spends 7-8% of its GDP on healthcare, which is relatively low in the European Union. Many countries spend more than 10%. On the other hand, one-third of total health expenditure is privately spent, which is one of the highest in Europe,” Leitner tells the BBJ.

“What further worsens the situation is that the money we spend privately is out-of-pocket and not through health insurance schemes. As a result of all these factors, Hungary is a very unhealthy nation on an EU-scale and globally too,” Leitner says.

The private sector brings numerous advantages to the table, compared to the public sector. The main selling points seems to be availability, accessibility, and not having to wait very long to be treated. 

“The quality and quantity of time given over to the patient and, of course, the environment and conditions of the care count,” says Csermely.


The private sector clearly benefits from dissatisfaction with the public service, but that is not to say Primus has not pinpointed areas where the public sphere could be made better.

“The current situation could be improved through two important steps, mainly,” Leitner says. “The first is that more money should be invested in the healthcare sector, and in a wiser way. At the same time, currently, the private healthcare sector is regarded as a rival for the public one,” he adds. 

“I rather see the two sectors as being more synergistic, both have their strengths and should learn from each other. Furthermore, through tax and other incentives, the private sector could be strengthened, taking some burden from the public sphere,” the association president argues.

In particular, private practitioners are keen to praise what they say are excellent professionals working around the clock in public healthcare to offer the best treatment possible for those in need.

“It is important to note that there are also a lot of excellent professionals working in state healthcare,” says Csermely.

“As Hungarians, we can be proud of our doctors, they are highly trained and excellent professionals. It is no coincidence that our doctors are sought after by other countries. The professional level in state healthcare is good,” Csermely says of the hard work of his colleagues.

“But state healthcare does not provide the opportunity for quality time, attentive care, which can be accessed easily quickly and in a better environment. This is what private healthcare has to offer,” Csermely concludes.

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