Hungary actually spends an enormous amount of money on healthcare. It is just a question of definition

This morning I read a comment by a journalist who announced that it is no longer worth listening to the Friday morning radio interviews with the prime minister because by now the reporter can’t ask any questions, even friendly ones, about the political events of the previous week or fortnight. At the last interview not a word was exchanged about the teachers’ strike, and this time the Hungarian National Bank’s foundations proved to be too insignificant to mention. Nonetheless, I managed to find an exchange at the very end of the interview that I believe merits comment.

Orbán outlined all the positive changes his government has been introducing of late that are making the lives of a large number of Hungarians more economically secure. First, the government raised the salaries of the policemen and soldiers. Then, a year later, they increased the salaries of the teachers, although naturally he neglected to say that for the higher wages the teachers had to work longer hours. The next task will be an improvement in the lot of doctors and nurses. Moreover, the government will find money to raise the salaries of people working in the cultural and social spheres– like librarians and social workers. Everything he promised was or soon will be fulfilled, he added triumphantly.

At this point the reporter chimed in, quoting a statement from the State Audit Office that pointed out “great management shortcomings and public procurement anomalies.” Viktor Orbán interpreted these words to mean that there is not enough money being spent on healthcare. (I guess something must have been lost in translation.) He immediately began talking about the amount of money that is being allocated to healthcare which, as we all know, is much less in Hungary than in other countries in the region. But it seems that Orbán has an entirely different definition of healthcare and, therefore, of the amount of money a country allocates to it. Let me quote the most important part of what he had to say here.

My thinking is a bit broader on that topic than the ideas of health experts. Because the budget of healthcare is not really the budget of healthcare but the budget of healing. I don’t mix up healthcare with healing. These two things overlap somewhat, but one of them is bigger than the other. So, we spend more on our health than the sums allocated to healthcare in the budget because in reality these are sums for healing the sick. Sports, daily gym classes, our investments in infrastructure that are necessary for healthy living all serve our health needs. So, in a more comprehensive way of looking at things, we could easily add these items to the healthcare expenses. We don’t calculate that way in Hungary, but I always like to put the budget together this way.

Well, let’s see what all this means in black and white. It is very difficult to find out exactly how much money is allocated to healthcare—healthcare in the commonly accepted sense, not in Viktor Orbán’s definition—because even economists specializing in healthcare issues can’t quite figure out the final amount for 2017, for example. However, according to Bence Rétvári’s announcement, which must be viewed with extreme caution, the Hungarian government will spend 500 billion forints on healthcare in 2017.

Billions for healthful living

Paragon of healthful living

And figuring out the amount of money spent on sports and infrastructure for football stadiums, swimming pools, sport stadiums of all sorts is even more difficult. However, here are a few figures that might give you some idea of the lavish spending on sports-related items. In two years (2012-2013) the government spent 142.6 billion forints on sports of all sorts. In 2014, they spent 168.6 billion. But direct government spending is only a part of the whole sports package because companies can offer billions of forints for different sports, mostly football, which means that yearly at least 50 billion forints never reaches the central budget. This money goes straight to sports clubs, mostly to the Ferenc Puskás Foundation in Felcsút.

A more recent assessment predicts that tax-free gifts for sports will be about 90 billion forints in 2017. This means that since the introduction of the system, more than 400 billion forints has gone straight to sports clubs instead of to the central budget. In addition to the 90 billion forints in “charitable contributions,” it is projected that the government will spend 223 billion forints next year on sports.  Others estimate government expenditure on sports in 2017 to be as high as 400 billion forints. Thus, we are getting close to the amount of money the government ostensibly spends on “healing the sick,” to use Viktor Orbán’s expression.

These figures do not include the construction and renovation of soccer stadiums. estimates that the seven stadiums that have already been completed cost 42.11 billion forints. And this is just the beginning, a very small beginning. Practically peanuts, because in the next three years 32 new stadiums will be built or renovated to the tune of 215 billion forints. Thus, I estimate that the Orbán government actually spends more on sports than on healthcare. I can say only one thing: “A crime against the Hungarian people!”

May 6, 2016
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May 6, 2016 7:04 pm

London Calling!

NOW I get it!

Of course! The football stadiums are a subset of health care.

Yes! Of course. Encouraging football – like the compulsory running around the local parks is a health thing!

Of course it should come out of the health budget.

And M8tolcsy’s foundations promote well being too – hence the ‘health-budget’ virement!

People will love seeing my Titian and violin.

And last of all – (you saw it coming!) My choo choo train is justifiably a health service virement too. Of course some of those 7000 passengers a day will be part-hospital transfers. You don’t get it do you?

Now I get it. Hungary must have one of the highest health-care budgets in the world – of course.

Must write a memo to MTI. (What? An email? What’s that?)

May 7, 2016 7:43 am

Football: The new cure for breast cancer.

May 7, 2016 8:48 am

All the public want are ” panem et circenses”.

For those who don’t have latin (me!) this translates as ‘Bread, Circuses and Football”


May 7, 2016 9:19 am


Of course it should be:

Bread, Circuses, Football and Choo Choo trains.

A panacea for all ills.

May 7, 2016 11:43 am

Totally OT: I just realized that Orban, and Kover are Jehovah’s Witnesses. They should embed this cartoon in their hodgepodge Basic Law.

May 7, 2016 1:05 pm

Looks as if sports is the innovative way of looking at supplying ‘preventative medicine’ in the country. Having fun through ‘healing’.
But all those forints! Who knows? Perhaps Viktor wants a ‘premiership’ for the Eastern /Eurasian lands…Magyars to lead?

Lots of moolah there when he no doubt looks at the other European leagues raking it all in in spite of rising ticket prices. He wants to somehow get in on that pie. Getting better execution of health care is an expense that looks apparently as simply overhead in context of all that.

May 7, 2016 1:10 pm

I can’t explain it, but the dictators, of lowly origin in particular, come up with similar, crazy ideas:
The former Türkmenbasi let go of healthcare. but built huge air conditioned horse stables, Orbán does the same with stadiums and undergriund heated pitch !!, Sadam and Cseausescu built their palaces, Orban is rebuilding to have one too.

BTW the costs of the Castle Hill rebuild ing project are spiraling out of control. An architect, who resigned from the phony project council (as they usually are in Orbanisran), said the costs of the plans discussed would be in the Pans II (nuclear power plant) league.

God save Hungary (from itself).

May 7, 2016 1:31 pm
pedellus bácsi
pedellus bácsi
May 7, 2016 3:15 pm


Exactly — Orban knows nothing can ever be recovered.

You can’t be serious to think that Orban or Lazar or Rogan (or Bence Tuzson or Kolos Kardkovacs and the other loyal minions) have anything in their names. Just look at the asset lists they submit to the Parliament year after year, they are almost destitute and these assets are what the court can possibly reach.

These guys are much smarter than Marcos was. That money – hundreds and hundreds of billions of forints – are gone for good.

Rasi, Gáspár and the rest (and their descendants for the next hundred years) will enjoy their comfortable lives.

May 7, 2016 4:34 pm

All substatial money transactions are in electronic storage. Some day we will have the Orban leaks.

May 7, 2016 5:16 pm

Say what you will, but with a warrant in hand I would try the banking computer networks and ask some foreign agencies for help. In the information age the chances are pretty good. There are a lot of new and old tricks in this chase.

With property confiscation the receiving and keeping of criminally obtained wealth is a crime in itself, so no gaspis, rasis and meszarosis will be able to keep it. Unless they live in Azerbajan or like and don’t set foot on first world soil.

May 8, 2016 5:08 am
Observer, I’m afraid you are not familiar with the relevant procedural circumstances. First you get a warrant, OK (which assumes that Polt and the people loyal to Polt and similarly involved in these matters are all gone) and follow the trail to, say, Dubai and you get nowhere, but let’s be optimistic, after 1-2 years (official communication between Ministries of Justices, translation etc.) you can follow the trail to Seychelles and the British Virgin Islands (since the Dubai entity has 2 different owners), after another 1-2 years you follow the trails to Cyprus, US and Bolivia and so on. Andy Vaina uses 5 level structures, more sophisticated ones use 7-10 level structures, each level in another jurisdiction and with several shareholders leading to other entities. Moreover, Orban and his helpers use Strohmen who are often very close to the secret services: they are happy to lie in court and can’t be broken by the prosecution, they will forever be loyal to their masters, as this is how they were selected in the first place. How do you prove that Mészáros or Garancsi or Csaba Lantos hold assets for the benefit of Orban? That’s legally impossible to prove in a Hungarian… Read more »
May 8, 2016 6:17 am

“. . . I’m afraid you are not familiar with the relevant procedural circumstances.”

Procedures may be changed to the worse for criminals.

A law which changes the legal status of an act after it was done is a retroactive law. Retroactive laws are not compatible with the rule of law, because you can be hanged for something you have done that was legal when you did it. (This is the most transparent example. Of course there is much more to it than that.)

Fidesz has made retroactive laws run of the mill. Thereby they have sharpened the legal tool for their own undoing. The government that will eventually clean up the Fidesz mess will rightfully place Fidesz operators at the receiving end of retroactive laws.

You are the chief executive of a state organisation and you distribute in a Fidesz-legalized way fabulous amounts of taxpayers money from this organisation to your family and friends. Then comes a parliament of a different persuation that passes a retroactive law that makes favoring familiy and friends with tax payers money in the past illegal, and you get 16 years in prison. (The new governement is too liberal to embrace capital punishment.)

May 8, 2016 11:50 am


To start with Polt and sie will be in preliminary detention. Ditto for many others. And following the current practice, this detention will be years, and in Hungarian prisons ….
Some will break and sing. Others will accept plea bargains. Others will be tempted by sort of “finders fees”, etc. etc. As I said there are many tricks here.

One large case per person is enough to ensure 10+ years and confiscation of property. These mafiosi and their immediate families won’t be able to spend anything in Hungary and in the EU.

Front men are part of the conspiracy, same procedure. Otherwise they will be also subject to tax and special audits where they would have to prove legal origin of their wealth, which would be otherwise confiscated.

I don’t think you are aware of the possibilities. After all billionaire Marcos with the (admittedly reluctant) help of the CIA and US politicians lost 1/3 of his ill gotten wealth. Let’s start there.

May 8, 2016 9:06 am

“These guys are much smarter than Marcos was.”
Where do you get that ridiculous idea?
Marcos was anything you wish to call him except stupid. He had a genius for hiding funds. At most, one could say others are “as smart as Marcos”. Smarter? Nope.

May 7, 2016 5:05 pm

From the article: “… Granting himself government contracts, monopoly deals and tax exemptions, …”

Very familiar …

May 7, 2016 4:58 pm

Pure, unadulterated bullshit, Mr. Orban. You are to healthcare management what Mr. Matolcsi is to Wobblynomics.

May 7, 2016 5:27 pm

Healthcare spending:

While even in the post crisis period the healthcare spending was raising +6.9% in the period 2009-2011, the Orba regime reversed the trend – 2011-13 saw a reduction by 3.4%. The government spends just over 4% of GDP on health care, one of the five lowest in the OECD 34 countries where the average is 7% of GDP.

By now the healthcare system have been starved to the point of collapse, which has started to show:
medical staff had been departing in droves for years leaving many hospitals without the legally required minimal staff,
the rate of patients’ infections have trippled,
patient mortality is double that of the US and the worst in the EU but for five countries.

“Hungary won !” beamed Orban after the disgraceful referendum on visit fee. Another fat lie added to the hundreds of other ones.

May 7, 2016 8:50 pm

Between April 30, 2015 and April 30, 2016, 28.46% [or 10.514 billion euros] of the foreign reserves of the Hungarian National Bank have disappeared.

The conversion of most private mortgage debt from Swiss franc to forint took place in the first half of 2015 at the November 7, 2014 rates (9.46% under the May 6, 2016 rates), while 6.708 billion (or 63.8%) of the decrease of the reserves happened only in the last 5 months, since November 30, 2015.

We now also know that Matolcsy siphoned off about 0.9 billion for his practically private PADations.

May 7, 2016 9:17 pm

Debt of the central government,
change between March 31, 2015 and March 31, 2016:
(using a EUR/HUF =313 rate)

debt in foreign currency: – 2.2 billion euros
debt in forints and “other liabilities”: + 5.7 billion euros.

May 8, 2016 9:18 am

If they keep this up, 57% of the reserves will have disappeared by the end of next year, and by the time of the 2018 elections they will have misappropriated 75% of foreign currency reserves, or 31.5 bn. Euros.
In this way, if Orban loses the elections, there could easily be a financial crash, or a run on the forint – caused, naturally, by Orban, who can clandestinely let the international community know how little money is actually left in the bank.
Then, after four years of economic hell, with Fidesz people demonstrating every day on the streets of Budapest, Orban could come back to power.

Congratulations Fideszniks – we now know for a certainty that you hate Hungary.

May 8, 2016 1:22 pm
webber: now you see it too. The opposition cannot really win. In the worst case scenario Orban is to take a step back while a paralized, wavering, divided left-wing coalition self-destructs and then Fidesz will come back with a vengeance (but strictly when the unpopular actions were already taken by that left-wing coalition, to introduce unpopular actions, like restrictions, is a very leftist thing, so let them do that). Orban won’t wait 4 years, in two he will finish off the leftists. He participated in many a pig slaughter, he knows when to slay that pig. And when did politics care about Hungary? Who cares about Hungary when the voters vote for you? If they don’t want Fidesz then they will not vote for Fidesz. Nope, this is about power and Fidesz is the best when it comes to grabbing power and taking advantage of it. I think people within Fidesz are proud of that. If the people vote for Fidesz again, it will be the will of the people – you can’t say Fideszniks ‘hate Hungary’. Fideszniks are just more ambitious, more aggressive and more successful – but it is always the people who decides. Too bad that people… Read more »
May 8, 2016 3:05 pm

Yes, you can say Fideszniks hate Hungary when they are willing to bankrupt the country and impoverish the mass of Hungarians just to keep power.
As a matter of fact, you cannot say anything but that you Fideszniks hate your own country and despise Hungarians.
And you are proud of it. You make me want to vomit.

May 8, 2016 10:55 am

MNB currency reserves may have just converted, are there any equal growth in Ft denominated reserves?

Gov debt – you mean the debt has grown by 780 billion Ft (at 312 exchange rate). This means approx 3.2% increase , so with GDP growth at 2.7% the central Gov debt has actually increased as %GDP, contrary to the Organ lies.

Pls clarify, send links.

May 8, 2016 11:04 am

Increase by EUR 3.5 bill = 1092 billion Ft = 4.4% increase of CGov debt.
As %GDP it’s an increase adding 1.7%.

May 8, 2016 7:07 pm

Here is a more detailed analysis.

Debt of the central government in 10^9 forints
= in forints+ in foreign currency + “other liabilities”

2015-03-31: 15351.28+8244.97+774.22 = 24370.47
2016-03-31: 17286.07+7554.50+632.42 = 25472.99

The increase of the debt in forint terms is 4.52% y/y, but the debt went down in euro terms
[as calculated by AKK].

The debt of the central government [calculated using MNB data]
on March 31 of each year in billions of euros.
*** = melted retirement funds

2010: 82.122
2011: 85.191
2012: 75.783 + ***
2013: 81.382 + ***
2014: 91.345 + ***
2015: 110.260 [includes 9.676 of the melted retirement funds]

international reserves of the MNB – debt of the central government [MNB]:

2010-03-31: -48.270
2011-03-31: -49.499
2012-03-31: -41.086 -***
2013-03-31: -45.915 -***
2014-03-31: -55.148 -***
2015-03-31: -73.352
2016-03-31: -83 [my expectation, data will be published on May 17]

May 9, 2016 7:30 am

Tnx. So that’s it, BS and lies.

I haven’t had the time to read carefully the OECD report 2016. But the charts show very substantial increase in investment, but I don’t know whether these figures contain the EU cohesion funds drawn.

May 9, 2016 5:46 pm

True, every word of it!
Just imagine the positive effects on healthcare of the casinos under Andy V.’s disposal! It’s enorm!

Just imagine: the citizen goes in the casino, plays and loses all his money overnight – if not sooner.

From here on above mentioned citizen wouldn’t afford to buy and consume all those unhealthy food full of carbs and calories, so he/she must implement a much more ‘sober’ diet, plainly in order to survive.

This is the truly Hungarian solution, don’t you think?
When Andy V. can fight of obesity and all of the health-issues what it may induct!

A truly ingenious solution, really!

Hail to Viktor the genius!