European Commission: “The state of health in the EU: Hungary”

A few days ago the European Commission released a 16-page summary of healthcare in Hungary. As I was gazing at the innumerable graphs in the pamphlet, what struck me was that in most cases Hungary was close to the bottom, together with Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Romania, just as was the case yesterday when I was looking at Hungarian 15-year-olds’ PISA scores. Yes, economic well-being, the level of educational attainment, and health correlate strongly.

The pamphlet is chock full of information, so I have to be selective. Although, according to Zoltán Ónodi-Szűcs, undersecretary in charge of healthcare, good basic healthcare “first and foremost is not a question of money,” I consider it significant that Hungary spends half the European Union average on healthcare. I’m also convinced that the fact that a Hungarian’s contribution to his own medical expenses is almost 30%, double the European Union average, considerably impacts the poor health statistics in Hungary. Only 56% of Hungarians consider themselves to be in good health.

Life expectancy in Hungary is almost five years lower than the EU average–75.7 as opposed to 80.6. Hungary is at the bottom, along with Romania, Latvia, Bulgaria, and Lithuania. As could be expected, there is a huge difference between the highly educated and the less educated strata of society when it comes to life expectancy. Economic inequality is also an important factor. Ever since 2007 economic and social inequality has been growing in Hungary. At the moment 35% of Hungarians live in poverty, and within that group 19% experience extreme hardship and occasional or regular hunger. The EU average for these two metrics is 17% and 10%.

Naturally, not all of the miseries of Hungarian health can be chalked up to a lack of money and poverty. According to several independent assessments, 40% of all illnesses are connected in one way or the other to unhealthy lifestyles. Hungary ranks fourth highest in the European Union when it comes to unhealthy lifestyles, right after, guess, Romania, Bulgarian, and Latvia. What are the main risk factors? Diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise. According to this survey, 26% of adults smoke, the third highest in the European Union. Every third man and every fifth woman is a regular smoker. The number of smokers among people with little education is twice that of university graduates. What is truly upsetting is that 20% of 15-year-olds are regular smokers. The EU average is 14%.

Twenty-one percent of all Hungarians are described as “nagyivók” (big drinkers). It is hard to tell whether this is a euphemism for alcoholism. I read elsewhere that the number of alcoholics might be close to one million, which would be roughly 10% of the population. Apparently in the last 17 years alcohol consumption has been slowly decreasing, but it’s still about 10% higher than the EU average of 10.9 liters per adult. Drinking also starts early. Forty percent of 15-year-olds reported that they had been drunk at least twice in their lives. This figure is the second highest, after Denmark.

As for obesity, the numbers are up year after year. In 2000 only 18% of Hungarian adults were overweight, but by 2014 it was 21%. Again, Hungary is leading the way, along with Malta and Latvia. As we know from other countries, the United States for example, obesity is greatest among the poor. In Hungary 25% of those belonging to the lowest economic strata are overweight, while only one-sixth of the better-off are.

Exercising on an “adult playground” in District XIII / Source: Magyar Nemzet / Photo: Balázs Székelyhidi

The section on mortality statistics is not exactly heartwarming. The greatest killer of women is cardiovascular disease. In 2014, 35,000 women died as a result of heart problems, which was 55% of all deaths that year. Men actually fared better: only 47% of all male deaths could be attributed to cardiovascular disease. These numbers are double the EU averages. According to estimates, the reasons for these high numbers are smoking, obesity, and, yes, inadequate medical care. Cancer is the second greatest killer, accounting for 23% of female and 29% of male deaths. Every third Hungarian has high blood pressure and every twentieth has asthma.

Perhaps the saddest part of the study is the performance of Hungarian healthcare. Hungary is again one of the leaders, alongside Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania, in the number of preventable deaths, which is double the European average. The Hungarian healthcare system loses 192.3 women and 361.3 men per 100,000 due to preventable deaths. The European Union average is 97.5 and 158.2 respectively. One reason for the high numbers is “the deficiency of acute medical care.” Fifteen percent of heart attack patients die within 30 days after being admitted to a hospital, the third highest in the European Union. There are also “questions concerning the quality of medical care of cancer patients.” Relatively few people go for screening for lung and breast cancer, which might be due in part to the endless waiting lists and the hours of waiting even if one has an appointment. I was told that the Hungarian system simply can’t cope with regular physicals and most preventive medicine. It cannot even keep up with those who are seriously ill.

The report card is not pretty, and Magyar Idők decided that the best thing was to forget about it. Writing an article on it would only confuse the Hungarian people.

November 24, 2017
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exTor
Guest

Let’s call this tangential. Since I dont have a TV here in Magyarland, I rely on YouTube (and New York Times, primarily) for a lot of my info. While waiting for a certain YouTube video, an ad for georgesoros.com appeared.

I was surprised and pleased to find the ad, notwithstanding the fact that I customarily dismiss YouTube ads after the usual 5-second interval. This Soros ad may have some effect on computer-savvy Hungarians, although those less computer-literate oldsters will miss out on its salubriousness.

https://www.georgesoros.com/rebuttal

The YouTube ads partner George Soros’s National Consultation rebuttal.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=george+soros

As for negatives, check the YouTube search link [above] showing the kind of antiSoros bile that exists online. Mind-stupefying.

comment image

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEFpEvuosfPGlV1VyUF6QOA/videos

Finally, on a positive note, check out the oeuvre of Márton Gulyás, whose YouTube channel [slejm – a torkon ragadt politika] is highly entertaining.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Michael Kaplan
Guest
In past consultations with Hungarian and Romanian health professionals, let alone my own research regarding burnout, it is clear that there are great and well educated professionals in both nations; however, they work in environments that are poorly organized, a frequently cited contribution to burnout. Regular exposure to traumatic events in that context is another building block of burnout, especially as neither Hungary and/or Romania do enough to enhance provider resilience, which when low, is still another building block of burnout. Why is the subject of burnout so important in evaluation of poor health outcomes, one might ask, especially as burnout exists in many countries, including, but not limited to the USA. The answer is in part that Hungarian and Romanian health care professionals are already working in such poorly organized environments that any additional stressors are especially negative. Those health care professionals with high burn out characteristics are higher in emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and low sense of personal accomplishment, all of which are highly correlated with negative patient outcomes. Since many health professionals can and do leave countries such as Hungary and Romania, the remaining health professionals are only further over whelmed. This is especially true for primary health… Read more »
dos929
Guest

Whilst it is beyond question that the Hungarian health system is lagging behind that of western nations for many decades, it is under the Orban regime that due to its policies and corruption the situation became unbearable. In modern western democracies one wouldn’t take even the family pet into a clinic that is in the state that the majority of the Hungarian hospitals and clinics are. As yet for the vast majority of people there is no choice other than to be at the mercy of the overworked, undermanned and underpaid medical staff struggling in delapidated buildings that lack hygiene and sterile environment. It is nearly 100% guaranteed that staying in a Hungarian hospital one would be exposed to infections that has nothing to do with the illness for which one was admitted for. The bottom line is that with a corrupt-to-the-bone government and similarly corrupt society at large there is little hope that anything would change for the better…

Guest

Rather OT re pets:
We have here in Hévíz very good vets, professional and friendly, especially the women – however the male vets often are of the brutal type:
It’s not worth it to treat that sick animal – I’ll kill it! Get another one …
On the other hand – if you’re a foreigner/tourist with money, some of them are willing to do all kinds of expensive treatments …

Guest

Re obesity:
Yes, it is bad around here – many of our neighbours are terribly overweight. It was sad to see a nice and friendly couple, now retired – and gaining weight immensely, because they still eat as if they were doing hard work instead of sitting (or reclining …) in front of the tv all day …
My sister told me some years ago after she came back from Africa where her husband had worked in controlling:
The wives of his African colleagues always asked her if her husband didn’t give her enough money – because she was so thin …
So that’s the diffefence between a developing country and a developed country:
In a developing country the rich are obese, while in a developed country the poor and uneducated are obese – but wait:
That would mean that Hungary is a developed country?

Ferenc
Guest

The European Commission has issued such brochures for all EU countries (in two languages: the mother tongue of the country and in English), all are linked from this page https://ec.europa.eu/health/state/country_profiles_en , on which also quick comparisons of key data for health can be done.
HU Health profile (in English): https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/state/docs/chp_hu_english.pdf

Ferenc
Guest

Some points going through above HU profile:
*high level of unmet medical care needs for low-income (note also big difference between low-high-income)
*highly hospital-centered (note: patients stay among the longest in hospital)
*health system underfunded and big part by not-public funding
*access hampered by out-of-pocket money (note: wonder how far the ‘halapenz’ is included)
*access for high income better, but for low income worse, than EU averages
*health workforce is aging, while numbers are under EU average
*very few general practitioners, of which almost half are over 60 yrs

PS: Strange that this EU study is not yet picked up by independent media in Hungary (at least I haven’t seen…)

Observer
Guest

An illustration of the appalling state of affairs:

Preventable deaths: even if we accept the average EU number as realistically inevitable (Semmelveis and claims of past glories notwithstanding ) still
28900 people die unnecesserily in Hun every year.

The hundreds of billions HUF of embezzlement and ADDITIONAL spending (TEK – 100, state media 60, stadium building 130, Tradind Houses, administration), could have showered healthcare, among others, with money for higher pay, better facilities, preventive care, information campaigns (of the real issues, not pathetic anti whatever campaigns).
Orban gleefully proclaimed that “Hungary won!” after Fid assisted by several politically corrupt CCourt judges torpe doed the most comprehensive healthcare reform in the last 70 years.
Well, Orban has been caught lying again, an enormous lie which costs 28900 Hungarians dead every year.

Observer
Guest

Correction:

Preventable deaths are now Hu 266, EU av 126 (both sexes) ergo
“only” 14 000 die unnecesserily every year.

wrfree
Guest

Re: the bad health care stats and ‘the deficiency of acute care’

At one time there as another country that had the moniker of ‘sick man of Europe’. It looks as if Magyarorszag has taken its place. And it is a bed that they seem to have no qualms lying in. Goodnite nurse.

Considering the size of the country and the number of ailments it beggars belief that they cannot have one of the best hospitals, physicians and health care research irganizations in Europe. The wastage of the billions of forints (we know what it is) has to verge on showing an animosity to the existence of all who live in the nation.

How this can happen is beyond understanding. The lack of will is astounding as I look at my Lab who I believe gets better attention to care than the average Magyar. I’d bet if he could talk he’d even say he has it so good compared to how some particular human counterparts.

Observer
Guest

wrfree

The cases where healthcare betters the general economic conditions are rare, but exist e.g. Cuba or even comparing the UK with France.

“How this can happen is beyond understanding..”
One has to consider the heavy negative balance of pretty eastern national psyche – negative, intolerant, lacking compassion, inward, retrograde, dishonest, servile and inhumane in general.
Orban’s Fid are stirring the bottom of the cauldron and getting the worst on the surface.
The tragic results are to be seen everywhere, the healthcare sector being the exemplary case.

They deserve the gov they actually have, don’t they?

wrfree
Guest
Yes Observer they are letting things slowly slip away. The majority of the electorate unfortunately has thrown away its responsibilities and have apparently become ‘igen men’. I can recall a backward country back in the 60’s. If that was life I didn’t want any part of it since I was ‘spoiled’ by the West. It grated on me as to what I saw there and how the government imposed itself when it came to life for its citizens especially in a personal sense with my family. It was pathetic and ridiculous noting the blatant dichotomies in the society. I never forgot the experience in a tightly wound society. Later years on I could see the increases in material comforts and the great strides into making the country a jingling cash register consumer society. Things looked really well and looking up considering where they were at a previous time where there was no middle class. And I also thought at one moment they could also break ‘free’ from the chains that they always had around their necks. Well if I believed all that which I did I, like Rick in Casablanca , was ‘misinformed’ as nothing of the sort seems to… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Sorry, but you’ve been too idealistic. People exhibit similar characteristics everywhere, but somewhere more so (a la Animal Farm), look at Mid Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.
The elite is supposed to guide in a developed country. This contrary to their immediate interest where the elite can get to rich easily (e.g. Latin America 1960s, Africa 1980s). In the long run however a balanced capitalism is the way to go as the last 150 years prove. BTW we are slipping in to extremes the last 20 years (see Tomas Piketty).

Member

I know several Hungarians who have told me there’s no link between diet and overall quality of health, telling me that they’re not connected. I suppose this gives them the psychological license to eat whatever they want and not feel bad about it, but it could also be an indication that society is not informing them properly about this.

Jean P
Guest

“… it could also be an indication that society is not informing them properly about this.”

There is no such thing as “society” in Hungary. There is the Fidesz/Orban government which claims to be identical with Hungary. It has a monopoly on information media and uses it to spread misinformation and confusion. The aim is always to cause the plain folks, the majority, to work against their own interests.

Guest

Just to illustrate the problems:
By coincidence or just because of getting older four women in our family/group fo friends have lately been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The two in Germany have already had their operations, one has also got her radiation treatment, the other is probably lucky, won’t need it.
The two women in Hungary were also “lucky” in a way – Budapest couldn’t offer radiation appointments (the wait time there is three months!) but they got appointments in Kaposvár and Szombathely respectively.
My wife who got a bit nervous was told that most of the machines for mammograhy in Budapest are broken – only two available for the whole population there …
And because of the long waiting times probably many women just won’t go to the doctor – until it’s too late.
Another point for “unnecessary deaths”.

But as I said before:
For the ruling class aka the Fidesz nomenklatura that’s not a problem – they can always go to private hospitals – preferably abroad …

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘unnecessary deaths’

And I wonder about that after finding out a friend died there recently on a visit. I am sure an emergency run to the hospital was necessary. After reading about acute care I’m getting the feeling the odds of coming home bordered towards the negative. I can only imagine what went on under the fast moving and desperate cardiac circumstances when time is of the essence.

bimbi
Guest

Does anyone have a link to the OECD report on healthcare in Hungary in English, please?

Ferenc
Guest

Don’t think there’s a separate Health Care report for Hungary from OECD.

For all OECD member states “Health at a Glance 2017” can be found at http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/health-at-a-glance_19991312 (incl.info for Hungary).
And there’s the latest OECD data for Hungary, including Health, on their website at https://data.oecd.org/hungary.htm
For EU/EC’s Health Profiles (incl.HU) in English, see my earlier comment (Ferenc@3:52am)

Guest

Here you go:
http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/social-issues-migration-health/hungary-country-health-profile-2017_9789264283411-en#.WhmjwjcxnIU
And here’s the list of all countries:
http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/state-of-health-in-the-eu_25227041

I just looked at the report on Hungary -it’s horrible and unbelievable!
One gets the impression that the ruling class wants the poor people to die as fast as possible.
In a way that’s understandable – they take too much money away from the Rolex and Gucci Fidesz nomenklatura!

dos929
Guest

“One gets the impression that the ruling class wants the poor people to die as fast as possible.“ >>> I am afraid this isn’t just an impression, but the sad reality. The poor have no ‘value’ to them, they are merely a burden… Welcome to ORBANISTAN!

Guest

Maybe it was Lázár aka Laser Johnny (or some other Fidesznik?) who once said:
If you have nothing then you are nothing!

Anton Grubitz
Guest

Wolfi, I wonder if you’ve ever heard of Andreas von Rétyi?

He is apparently a German of Hungarian extraction.

His book about George Soros was ordered to be translated into Hungarian and printed in 5,000 copies by the Fidesz Parliamentary caucus. It is now an obligatory political text for all candidates of Fidesz in the 2018 elections. They must be educated in the “Soros-question” and von Rétyi’s book seemed the most authoritative to Orban.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_von_R%C3%A9tyi

Guest

What a crazy guy – ufologist, believer in “constipation theories” (Area51, Bilderberger, Illuminati, UFOS and aliens …), writer for the extreme right-wing Kopp Verlag.
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_von_R%C3%A9tyi
I wouldn’t touch him or his books with a 30 feet pole …

PS:
It’s really funny – just told my wife about this lunatic and she immediately answered: I know, read about this on Index, Orbán ordered 5000 of his books …

Ferenc
Guest

When I read that news this week, checked around, found even an interview by his publisher up on youtube. Just horrible BS.
Publisher is Kopp Verlag – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopp_Verlag, nice list of authors… to avoid…

Observer
Guest

Anton G

If nowadays you see a Hungarian name with a von or de – beware. E.g. a typical such fraud was S.Gorka with his “Dr. …v. Gorka, whatever that was supposed to mean. Just little pricks, but great wanabees.

Member
Unfortunately, none of this is a surprise. During my decade living in Hungary, I was both extremely ill and also barely cared for by the Hungary healthcare system. I have no doubt that the main reason for this is the system of bribes that operates at every level of the system. I refused to pay these, and was repeatedly punished as a result. Incidentally, even if I had not been so opposed to this appaling system, on a state school teacher’s salary I would still not have been able to pay them – the system is based on the idea that the extended family will contribute to the bribes. So no extended family, no hope (as with many things in Hungary). I had a tumour operated on in Hungary, and throughout this process the consultant rushed me to the front of queues, clearly on the basis of my being a supposedly rich Western European. After giving him nothing on conclusion of the process, it was clear that I could not return for a follow-up. When the admirable Gyurcsany introduced a HUF300 charge to attend a doctor (less than the price of an urban bus ticket), there was evidence that bribe-paying… Read more »
Guest
Good for you and your child that you made your way outside Hungary! Just for comparison – what happened to me when I returned to Germany early this year to check on everything (I feltoverworked somehow) and get my medicine for the next three months. (I live “part time” in Hungary.) The doc checked me and said: your pulse is a bit irregular – let’s do a 24 hour EKG and then his wife adjusted the sensors etc on my body while we talked about Hungary and the nice stuff that I bring them regularly – like Piros Arany and spices. The next day I returned the machine and was told they’d get the results from the lab before the weekend. The next morning I got a call from the doc: Come immediately, get your papers and be prepared to go to the university clinic! He told me that the lab had found Vorhofflimmern (Atrial fibrillation) and the clinic would try to repair it – so I went and had to lie down in a bed which was moved around a lot, attached to a monitor, got some infusions answered a lot of questions by different docs and technicians …… Read more »
wrfree
Guest

That ‘nomenklatura’ ref and ruling class brought back the good old commie days. The following was a previous joke on communism and the shortage of meat. It’s now transposed to the ‘good old new times’.

Little Boy: What will illiberalism be like when perfected?

His Father: Everyone will have what he needs.

Little Boy: But what if there is a shortage of healthcare?

His Father: There will be a sign at the hospital saying, “No one needs healthcare today.”

wunderbar
Guest

OT: Hungary strikes back by way of Connie Mack, Andy Harris and Dennis A. Ross.

Alas the US State Department is falling apart (see today’s NYT article) whereas in Russia, China, Iran, Turkey etc. the Foreign Ministry is highly focused with professional, experienced diplomats who get posted repeatedly to the same place so that they can best make use of their experiences, networks, language skills etc.

The question is the same it was 2,500 years ago. How and why does a democracy degenerate first into populism and then into tyranny (or “autocracy” as today’s political correctness requires us to say).

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/11/23/diplomat-vs-lobbyist/

Ferenc
Guest

Thanks! Great article, spot on!!

And as a ‘special present’ it includes a link to the contract between “Prime Minister’s Office” [HU] and “Connie Mack IV” [SLI Group, USA] with “Szazadveg” doing something in between… (all for the ‘special discount’ price of 4.56 million Euros for 4 years of lobbying) – https://www.fara.gov/docs/6259-Exhibit-AB-20141205-2.pdf
More about that here – http://hungarianspectrum.org/tag/connie-mack-iv/

wrfree
Guest

Re: Connie Mack

After taking some time reading I got in my head to think of Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankee baseball player and one of his great sayings. He was right. When you think of Mack, you get the impression ‘the future ain’t what it used to be’.

Observer
Guest

wunderbar

A small correction – the State Dept isn’t falling apart, it is being wrecked by Tillerson/Trump.

Tyrker
Guest

“Life expectancy in Hungary is almost five years lower than the EU average–75.7”

But only 3 years lower than the US figure. Which really says more about the US than it does about Hungary.

Guest

And your reply says a lot about you, Tyrker …
How long did you have to search for a civilised country that is “almost half as bad” as Hungary in the way it educates, treats and cares for its citizens?

My wife also had something to say on this:
I took her to her first holiday in the USA (she was 64 years old then – hadn’t thought that she’d ever go there …). When we drove through Florida south of Miami and passed a row of houses of “not so well off” people she said:
This place really looks like a Gypsy district in Hungary – only the cars are much bigger!
Btw she really enjoyed that trip so we “did it again” – in the next years we went to NYC and Niagara Falls, did a round trip to San Francisco and Las Vegas and also visited her relatives in Tennessee and she enjoyed those longer trips too. But she also saw the uglier sides of the States …

PS:
Did you also find any countries were life expectancy is now less than in Hungary and would you list them for us to have a comparison?