Unmet medical needs in ambulatory care in Hungary: forgone visits and medications from a representative population survey

Eur J Health Econ. 2019 Jun;20(Suppl 1):71-78. doi: 10.1007/s10198-019-01063-0. Epub 2019 May 17.


Background: The objective of this paper is to explore unmet health care needs in Hungary in ambulatory care due to costs and difficulties in travelling, and to analyze how unmet needs relate to socio-demographic characteristics.

Methods: The quantitative analysis is based on a national, representative online survey carried out in Hungary on a sample of 1000 respondents in early 2019 using a proposed set of questions developed by the OECD. We present and compare unmet medical needs in different socio-demographic groups, and we use multivariate logistic regression analysis to identify the main determinants of unmet medical needs.

Results: Among responders who had medical problems in the last 12 months, 27.3% reported forgone medical visit due to difficulties in travelling, 24.2% had unfilled prescription for medicine due to costs, 21.4% reported forgone medical visit or follow-up visit due to costs and 16.6% reported skipped medical test, treatment or other follow-up due to costs. These shares are much higher than presented previously in international databases. The logistic model indicates that respondents were significantly more likely to report unmet needs if they were women, younger or belonged to first and second income quintiles.

Conclusions: Policy makers need to address the issue of high prevalence of forgone medical care among the Hungarian population to avoid deterioration of population health and inequalities in access. As a first step, policies should try to decrease financial burden of vulnerable groups to improve access.

Keywords: Access; Ambulatory care; Forgone care; Hungary; Unmet medical needs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care / economics
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / economics
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hungary
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prescription Drugs / economics
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Transportation
  • Young Adult


  • Prescription Drugs