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Govt to cut healthcare spending next year

The government plans to cut the healthcare budget from this year's HUF 1.46 trillion (€5.44 billion) to HUF 1.39 trillion in 2012, daily Népszabadság reported on Friday, citing a recent government decree.

Further cuts are envisaged in 2013, when health care spending would be reduced to HUF 1.367 trillion, the paper said. Resident doctors and the government's healthcare advisors however have warned that cuts in spending would result in protests, doctors' resigning and leaving the country en masse, and ultimately in cuts in services.

"We do not see how the government will finance promised wage hikes for doctors," Levente Koppány Kovács, deputy chairman of the Association of Hungarian Resident Doctors told the paper. István Eger, president of the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors, said the situation was grave and that a comprehensive solution is needed. He proposed that instead of today's health contributions, a consumption-based tax should be introduced to help finance healthcare.

Asked about an earlier government promise to raise healthcare spending to 5.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of their term in 2014, the state secretary in charge of healthcare told the paper the government would not implement cuts beyond those laid out in its economic Széll Kálmán Plan in 2012. He added that HUF 300 billion is expected to flow in from European Union funding next year, which will be topped up by a tax on healthcare products.