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Orban wants to force private doctors to work for the state

 

The past decade has taught us that the self-proclaimed national conservative government has little respect for conservative values. It has attempted to nationalize private pension funds and introduce price caps that lead to shortages. And now they’re on to healthcare. 

The Hungarian government website has revealed what they think to be the solution to the problems of state-run health care. The government wants to force every doctor to work at least twenty hours a month in the public health care system. Otherwise, their permits would not be granted. Doctors who now only work in private clinics may have to reschedule their workload and working hours. The proposal also mentions that doctors can be forced to carry out their tasks in state hospitals other than where they are stationed, which could mean commutes as long as three hours a day.

The intention is to save the public system. However, the decision will likely backfire. It will generate a significant exodus of mainly young medical professionals, leading to more erosion of public health care and fewer willing medical students who want to stay in Hungary.

Ever since the economic and political transition in 1990, health care has been one of the weakest points of every government. It has been treated somewhat lightly and often tossed aside. Interestingly, it was Fidesz that could have benefited from a healthcare reform pivot more than a decade ago. The Fidesz government’s rise to a supermajority in 2010 was partly due to its 2008 campaign and referendum against the previous government’s plan to have a 1 EUR co-payment structure. 

Orban’s party was well aware of society’s attitude towards having to pay for something they had considered a right to have for free. Winning the referendum by a vast majority paved the way for Fidesz’s landslide victory and a two-thirds majority. As for the health care system, however, they slowly dismounted the public system and have not introduced any significant changes, which have led to shortages in doctors, nurses, and other medical staff, plus long waiting lists for surgeries and treatments.

Orban’s party was well aware of society’s attitude towards having to pay for something they had considered a right to have for free. Winning the referendum by a vast majority paved the way for Fidesz’s landslide victory and a two-thirds majority. As for the health care system, however, they slowly dismounted the public system and have not introduced any significant changes, which have led to shortages in doctors, nurses, and other medical staff, plus long waiting lists for surgeries and treatments.

“Reforms are needed in the Hungarian health care system. But changes like this do not bring about the intended consequences. In fact, they take the country back in time.”

Nevertheless, over time, private clinics have sprung up all over the country, taking over the task of the state by reducing waiting lists and, most importantly, providing good health care to customers. It has become a flourishing sector of the economy. As for patients, although people pay their social security to the state, they do not receive any service once they turn to private clinics.

What is the solution? At the moment, it is hard to imagine an entirely private system in Hungary. However, politicians and medical experts should engage in a conversation about a hybrid system that would require the state to allow competition and, most importantly, invite insurance companies to fill the gap between consumers and service providers. 

This is the only option to satisfy both the medical profession and patients. In the long run, a shift towards more privately-owned hospitals and better service will actually serve the health of society. Putting doctors in chains will not be beneficial. The big question is: what is the government’s real intention, in any case? 

Origianlly published here

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