OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

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Improving Health Outcomes and System in Hungary

Based on the latest available data up to 2009, the health status of the Hungarian population is among the poorest in the OECD, including countries with a similar level of income per capita. While this outcome has been driven by the socioeconomic status of the population and lifestyle risks, it also reflects the relatively limited effectiveness of the health care system, for which relatively low levels of resources have been available: total health spending amounted to 7.4% of GDP in 2009, lower than in other OECD countries with similar levels of income per capita. Although the health care system is generating significant health care outputs, such as doctor’s consultations and hospital discharges, problems with the quality of health services and the need to reallocate resources where they would contribute most to health outcomes suggest a need for reforms. Reforms are needed to address immediate challenges to stem the outflow of health care workers, reorganise care capacities, align incentives faced by providers and patients, and improve access to health care services. The medium–term challenge for the health care system is to increase available resources to significantly enhance health outcomes. As there are relatively weak mechanisms to regulate quality and prevent unnecessary care, further improving efficiency is also of key importance. This Working Paper relates to the 2012 OECD Economic Survey of Hungary (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/hungary)


Keywords: health care system, access to health care, cost-effectiveness, Hungary, spending efficiency
JEL: I14: Health, Education, and Welfare / Health / Health and Inequality; I18: Health, Education, and Welfare / Health / Health: Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health; I11: Health, Education, and Welfare / Health / Analysis of Health Care Markets
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