The Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK) has asked president János Áder not to sign the new Social Security Act, arguing that restrictions should not by all means lead to the denial of necessary care or a potential indebtment of the individual.
The Chamber’s new leader, Gyula Kincses, in a message posted to his Facebook page, although welcoming certain restrictive aspects of the legislation, argues that the restriction must not lead to the denial of necessary care in the event of non-payment.
On Sunday, the Parliament passed the new Social Security Act, altering many aspects of the Hungarian social security system. In short, anyone accruing more than a three-month debt by not paying their monthly health service contribution gets their social security number (TAJ) invalidated. This means they will have to pay for every healthcare service until they settle their debts. The legislation also set the monthly healthcare contribution fee at HUF 7,710 (Eur 23,4).
Trade unions demand withdrawal of new social security act
Hungarian trade union federation MASZSZ considers the new social security act as 'inhumane' and going against the principle of solidarity, and demands its withdrawal, the organisation told MTI on Sunday. The new legislation, which was passed by parliament on Wednesday and will come into effect next July, will bar almost 500,000 people from eligibility for medical care, MASZSZ said in a statement, adding that this could put doctors in an impossible position as they might have to refuse to provide health services to those who fail to pay. 'The government is trampling on the principle of solidarity', This act will turn patients against doctors, employees against employers, healthy people against sick ones, they said, adding that they are calling on President János Áder not to sign the legislation into law.
Kincses claims he agrees that social security should be based on a balance between rights and obligations and that citizens who are able to pay the contribution should be obliged to do so. He also insists that the contribution discipline needs strengthening.
However, there may be a large number of people who, due to ignorance, poor administration, their employer’s fault, or even their own negligence, fail to settle their social security contribution on time, he argues. And according to the new law, in the case of an accident or an unexpected illness, healthcare for them could result in a bill of millions of forints, putting at risk the livelihood of families – a disproportionate consequence, Kincses added.
He also argues that healthcare workers’ potential obligation to deny treatment might undermine doctor-patient relationships that could lead to extreme situations.
He also notes that the government failed to negotiate on the draft law with them beforehand. As result, Kincses urges Áder not to sign the bill and asks decision-makers to consult with the Chamber before implementing changes.
fetaured image: illustration; via MTI/Sándor Ujvári