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Ministry expects HUF 25 bln healthcare surplus

Hungary’s Health Ministry is expecting a healthcare-contribution surplus of HUF 25 billion (€94 million)in 2008, Health Minister Tamás Székely told the newspaper Napi Gazdaság.

Székely said that HUF 5.7 billion of the surplus has already been put back into the healthcare system.

The 2008 budget outlined a HUF 2 billion surplus from revenue of HUF 1,438 billion and expenditures of HUF 1,436 billion.

Last week, the government stipulated an additional surplus of HUF 18 billion, HUF 16.7 billion of which will be allocated to cover the cost of inpatient care.

Székely said that hospitals have total debt of HUF 60 billion, including overdue debt of HUF 20 billion. The issue of possible hospital consolidation falls under the authority of their owners and operators, mostly local councils, the minister stressed. Many of the same hospitals were consolidated in both 1996 and 2002. Wage negotiations in 2007 called for a 5.5% increase in wages, but ministry surveys show that wages increased 11.7% at hospitals. Expenses, however, grew at a rate of 10.1% above inflation, Székely added.

Abolishing the fees paid for doctors' visits as a result of this spring's national referendum have increased the number of patients by 10%-11% and also boosted consumption of pharmaceuticals. The visit fee would have meant an average HUF 150,000 - HUF 200,000 extra income for doctors' offices.

Székely said about 450-500 doctors have asked for certificates enabling them to apply for permits to work abroad, adding that there are 37,000 doctors in Hungary. A lack of young doctors is a major problem in the country, he added. (MTI – Econews)