The information in this article and much much more appears in the ebook Having A Baby in Hungary.
Last updated January 27, 2014.
If you are pregnant and living in Hungary, you may wonder how much having your baby here will cost you. The answer is not straightforward: There are many factors that influence how deeply you will have to dig into your pockets to receive prenatal care, childbirth attendance and postnatal care.
What kind of insurance do you have?
If you are eligible for Hungarian health insurance (társadalombiztosítás, also known as TB, the ID card for which is called the TAJ card) or you are from a European Union country and have an EU healthcare card, it is theoretically possible to have a baby with no fees out of pocket. The way to achieve this is to simply go to your local clinic (szakrendelő) for prenatal care, see whoever is on duty, then go to your local hospital, and give birth with whoever is on duty. This is all free if you have Hungarian or EU health insurance.
If you have private health insurance, they will also probably pay for the above services at the state clinic and public hospital, but you need to check with your insurance company concerning exact terms. Some insurance companies cover only a select few providers or clinics. Your insurance policy may cover your prenatal care through some of the private clinics catering to foreigners living in Hungary, and the advantage there is that you would be able to get all your medical care at a single location, and be reasonably assured that everyone speaks English. These private clinics cost significantly more than visiting the average Hungarian doctor or public clinic, so make sure you understand the details of your insurance policy and the clinic’s fees before you go there.
If you have no insurance, you can still receive good care in Hungary, but you will have to pay for it all out of pocket. And that brings us to…
What kind of service would you like?
Assuming you don’t have insurance that covers pregnancy and childbirth, where you go to get your service will determine how much you have to pay.
If you choose to go with the state-operated clinics and always get your care from the doctors on duty, then prenatal visits will run you about HUF 5000 (not including the cost of lab tests and ultrasounds). Please note, though, that “tipping” doctors in public clinics and public hospitals in Hungary is very common, and sometimes even expected.
If you choose one of the number of private clinics that offer prenatal services, the cost goes up significantly, though you can still choose from a range of prices. Private clinics often offer a prenatal care package that will save you money when compared to paying for all the visits and lab work separately. Some clinics even allow you to purchase a prenatal care package by trimester. A single visit with a doctor at one of the private clinics will cost you between HUF 20 000 and 40 000 (not including the cost of any procedures or lab work). The price for the prenatal packages ranges from HUF 299 000 to 890 000. Be aware that buying a prenatal care package from a private clinic usually does not cover the cost of the birth itself at the hospital of your choice.
An intermediate choice is to visit a private doctor’s office. There are many doctors in Hungary who speak excellent English, but are not associated with any of the private clinics. They have their own offices, often equipped with ultrasound machines. If you go see one in his or her own office, a visit will cost you somewhere between HUF 10 000 and 15 000 (including procedures, but not including lab work). Be aware that most doctors charge a separate fee for attending the birth, which is usually ten times their visit fee. So if you choose to go to a private doctor’s office, you can expect to pay separately for each visit and then pay a lump sum of HUF 100 000 to 150 000 after the birth in addition to the hospital’s fees.
As you can see, paying for prenatal care is separate from paying for the birth itself. For this, you can choose to go to one of the many public hospitals in Budapest that have obstetrics services, or you can go to a private hospital or private maternity ward.
If you choose a public hospital, the birth itself will cost you somewhere around HUF 200 000 to 300 000. Public hospitals do not offer package rates; they charge separately for each service they provide. You can either be attended by the staff on duty, or by the private doctor you hired, assuming he or she has privileges at the hospital of your choice. Please note that your privately hired doctor’s fees are not included in the hospital fees above, even if that hospital otherwise employs your doctor.
There are currently three private hospitals in Budapest that offer obstetrics services. The cost of birth ranges from HUF 250 000 at Róbert Klinika for an uncomplicated vaginal birth to nearly EUR 10 000 at Dr. Rose for a C-section. In the middle is Maternity Private Clinic, where either a vaginal birth or a C-section costs HUF 450 000 for Hungarian citizens and HUF 550 000 for foreign nationals. When evaluating the price of birth at any of these locations, keep in mind that some of them may not include the cost of certain pain medications, such as epidural anesthesia, for which you may be charged separately.
Another option in Hungary for those who feel committed to a natural birth is to have a home birth. Home birth was legalized and regulated in 2012, though it is still not widely accepted by the medical community. There are several home birth midwifery practices in operation in Budapest at present, some of which are licensed and some of which are not. The cost ranges from HUF 50 000 to 160 000 and includes all your prenatal visits, attendance of the birth, and postnatal care. The fee does not include any lab work or medical tests. If it becomes necessary to transfer to a hospital during the birth, standard hospital fees will apply.
There are currently no birth centers in operation in Hungary.
Please note that all prices are approximate and current as of January 2014. Check with your provider of choice for their exact fees.
Réka Morvay is a Hungarian-American psychologist and doula living in Budapest with her husband and two daughters. She offers prenatal classes for expatriates, doula services, and mommy-baby and pregnancy support groups in English. She is the author of the definitive guide Having A Baby in Hungary.
Article originally appeared on MoveOne’s Expat Echo blog.