UK Citizens going abroad can apply for the FREE EU Health Insurance CardEU Health Insurance Card that covers many of the common Healthcare treatments when in Hungary and other EU Countries.
The Immigration department likes it when you have an EHIC because it means you are not burdening the Hungarian Health system financially.
104 is the telephone number of the HU http://www.mentok.hu/home/Ambulance service. The Fire/Rescue WebsiteFire Brigade use 105 and http://www.police.hu/Police 107. These services might not speak and/or understand English though.EU 112 Emergency Service
The EU has provided 112 for you to dial in an emergency. It works anywhere within Europe and is free to call.
The Daily Travel Pass (1,040 HUF / £2.90) is great for visiting d.i.y shops, tourist spots and other places of interest.
It is valid on trolley buses, local buses and trams in and around Szeged city centre. A single ticket costs 320 HUF (89p).
The Correct Change Bureau De Change, located at Tisza Lajos Körút 57 (Szeged city centre), has excellent exchange rates. They have branches in Budapest too.
It's worth taking a tram/bus into the city centre because you will still receive more money than outside the city centre.
On this web page you will find information relating to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and more importantly how I used it to get FREE Hospital Treatment as a UK Citizen when I had a bad fall in Szeged from my bicycle.
A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to receive Hungarian healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes free. It will cover you for treatment that is needed to allow you to continue your stay in Hungary until your planned return to the UK. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, as long as you are not going abroad to give birth. More information about specific EHIC rules in relation to Hungary can be found on the NHS EHIC Country By Country Web PageCountry By Country web page.
NOTE WELL - An EHIC Card is FREE. Furthermore, it is free to renew and free to have the address details associated with it updated; so ignore any website that is charging for an EHIC Card and EHIC Services. ALWAYS use the NHS website only or call their EHIC Hotline on 0300 3301350. When you have your address changed you will NOT receive a new EHIC Card simply because an EHIC Card does not have your address printed on it.
Before I go into detail about my accident and the subsequent hospital experience, I would first like to make you aware of 'The Research Enquiry' (General Enquiry) I made a few weeks before regarding Hospital Fees and the actual Hospital Registration Process.
As I was going to stay in Hungary (Szeged) for the next 9 Months or so I decided it would be a good idea to locate the actual A&E Department of Szeged hospital in order to ask about the registration process and hospital fees if I were to have an accident, so I cycled up there and asked. No good phoning general enquiries or e-mailing them as more than likely they would not speak English.
The main entrance to Szeged Hospital and its A&E Department
When I arrived at the hospital the security/staff did not speak English, which did not surprise me, so they took me to the A&E Department to look for a staff member who could speak English. There was no actual sign in English saying where the A&E Department was, so I got to know where it was by pure accident (no pun intended!). When the security/staff found a male receptionist who could speak English, their English was fluent enough to ask and answer questions.
I asked: If I came into the A&E Department one day with a broken leg "What would the procedure be?". He told me I would need my passport, residence card, address card and EHIC whereby a form would then be filled in at reception, I would wait in the waiting room to be seen (which could take 1-2 hours) and then I might have to pay a fee towards the hospital treatment dependant on what my health insurance covered. When I asked how much that could be I was quoted 10,000 HUF minimum, 100,000 HUF maximum - between £25 and £400.
Normally I would of just put a fall like this down to a nasty muscle pain and cycled home, but the locals who witnessed the accident and called the ambulance for me (and spoke English) thought, with the lump, that I might of broken my shoulder.
When the ambulance crew arrived I was a little surprised that they did not speak English simply because medical students for example have to learn English. One of the crew members who did speak enough "broken English" to ask me my name, d.o.b, etc was lucky (as was I) in that he also had information about my accident from the locals who did speak English and Hungarian. Saying this, I am sure the ambulance crew and/or hospital would of had a language interpreter/translator on standby if the problem (call-out) would of been for a fatal car accident for example.
To put the language barrier into perspective: You can not and should not expect the emergency services to speak English for example just because you are from the UK. In the UK, and other countries, the emergency services will not speak Hungarian for example; so why should it be any different for a UK Citizen in Hungary? The best advice I can give here, in hindsight (as always!), is: ALWAYS CARRY SOME FORMAL IDENTIFICATION WITH YOU.
At the time of my accident I had no formal identification with me, even though it is a requirement by Hungarian law, simply because whenever I am cycling far distances (I was 12 Kilometres from my apartment) I purposely leave my formal identification at home. I do not like the idea of losing or damaging important/formal identification such as a passport or address card because each item is a nightmare to replace, especially a residence card and address card. I would rather be fined for not carrying formal identification rather than pay the cost of replacing each item.
To replace a lost British Passport currently costs Current British-Passport Fees£75.50 (standard passport) or Current Emergency-Passport Fees£100 (emergency passport). To replace a lost, stolen or damaged UK Driving Licence costs Current UK Driving Licence Fees£20. And to replace (get a copy of) a UK Birth Certificate costs Current UK Birth Certificate Fees£9.25. So that is already £132.25 (48,177 HUF) just to replace three items of identification.
With no formal identification on me, and fearing a huge hospital bill, I asked (try to scrounge from) the ambulance driver if he could stop by my apartment in order to pick up my passport, EHIC and so on whereby he joked "Don't worry, you will be in hospital waiting for x-rays for three hours. That will be plenty of time for a friend to collect them for you!". I thought he was joking, but I actually ended up spending more than four hours in the hospital; 8:37pm until 1:03am. This was partly due to me having no formal identification.
With no Passport, EHIC, etc the doctor diagnosing my injuries had a dilemma. If he started the process of X-Ray and so on without my formal identification I would of been charged for that treatment as a private patient. On the other hand because I could not contact anyone, as I did not have my mobile phone and could not remember anyone's phone number, the doctor had to delay treatment; which was a risk in its own right.
I think the doctor suspected no vital damage though, hence why he allowed me to use the hospital computer and subsequently his own mobile phone and credit to contact Tünde's son who later brought my passport, etc to the hospital. The sincere doctor really did not want me to pay for any treatment.
With regards to the actual treatment (i.e. Diagnosis and X-Rays), level of care and customer service I can not fault the two doctors, wheelchair porter and kind cleaner who gave me a blanket to use. They were excellent. I read reviews on the internet, prior to my accident, that the Hungarian hospital system was rubbish, lacked staff, was not professional and had staff expecting tips, but I never experienced or saw any of these issues.
The hospital was very clean and hygienic, with doctors washing their hands and cleaners cleaning the rooms and cubicles. The workload (patient forms) I saw was flowing nicely too whereby patients were being dealt with as quickly as possible. It could be argued that the time of night had a part to play in this efficiency, but I doubt it. I have seen the hospital being run in the daytime too and thought the overall hospital performance was fine.
Imagine, all that care and treatment for £3. I know the UK NHS is FREE, but you can not fault the Hungarian hospital system in this case. I got the treatment for free, when I should of paid at least £3 (or up to £400) and had a doctor who gave his personal phone credit for free without question. Now that is an excellent service. As gratitude I topped up the doctor's mobile a couple of days later.
The actual registration process did not quite happen the way the receptionist told me a few weeks earlier. I actually only needed my Passport and EHIC whereby the doctor, head nurse (authorisation nurse) and receptionist between them filled out the forms, photocopied my id and did everything else via computer.
Keep your assessment (report) by the way because it should contain details of a recommended GP (General Practitioner) and also serves as evidence of your hospital visit and accident of course. You might need it in the future for other reasons too, such as medical insurance claims and hospital/medical history. Further reading - EU Health Insurance Card Entitlements.
Always carry some formal identification with you and make sure you get your FREE EU Health Insurance Card (EHIC) because you never know when an accident might happen. More importantly, remember the phone numbers of the emergency services - 104 (Ambulance), 105 (Fire Brigade), 107 (Police) and 112 (EU Switchboard/Operator).