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Hungary’s PM outlines health care reform plans

Gyurcsány told a conference of health care professionals that the goal was to rid Hungarians of the illusion that everyone is entitled to the highest level of health care free of charge. The entire financing system has to be overhauled, Gyurcsány said, since the current one is untenable. Expenditures have skyrocketed over the past few years and people are as dissatisfied with the system as ever, he noted. So, the government envisages an insurance-based system. Currently there are about half a million people receiving services without paying any insurance, he said. Under the new regime, this group will receive only a limited package of basic services, he added. Also planned is the introduction of a co-payment for each visit to the doctor and for each day of hospitalization. At present healthcare contributions paid by employers and employees cover about 80 percent of expenditures - the co-payments could supply another part, Gyurcsány said. Gyurcsány added that decisions would be made by year-end on exactly what the basic package of services will contain and on whether to opt for a multiple insurer or single-payer system. The owner of the institution providing the service will be of no interest for the insured if health care is to be insurance-based, the Prime Minister said. This would require a new institutional system and a restructuring of capacity, adding that an independent supervisory body to protect consumer interests was definitely part of the plan. At any rate, the change is going to require a very difficult transitional period that will last for several years, he said. The end will be a healthcare configuration that operates more fairly and offers high-quality services, Gyurcsány said. (Mti-Eco)