The Ministry of Health administers the state health service, with the counties and districts forming hospital regions. By the end of 1974, 99% of the population was covered by social insurance and enjoyed free medical services; those few not insured pay for medical and hospital care. Limited private medical practice is permitted. In 1992, the Ministry of Welfare proposed a compulsory health care scheme based on the German system, to be administered by the National Health Security Directorate. After the termination of socialism in 1989, the Hungarian health system was largely unchanged. About 5% of clinics were privatized and health care was available to nearly all of Hungary's people. Health expenditures comprised an estimated 6.8% of the gross domestic product as of 1999.
As of 1999, there were an estimated 3.2 physicians and 8.3 hospital beds per 1,000 people. In 1993, there were 4,504 pharmacists, 4,267 dentists, and 2,695 midwives. There were 110,965 births in 1999. In 2002, Hungary's birthrate was estimated at 9 per 1,000 people. Contraceptives were used by an estimated 73% of married women (15–49) as of 2000. Average life expectancy was 71 years in 2000. Free professional assistance given to insured pregnant women and to the mothers of newborn children, maternity leave and grants, and improved hygienic conditions helped lower the infant mortality rate to 9 per 1,000 live births in 2000. As of 2000, the total fertility rate was 1.3 per woman during her childbearing years.
The country faces severe problems in maintaining an acceptable level of health care for its population. The UN considers its death rate unacceptable (13 per 1,000 in 1999). The heart disease occurrence is below the average for wealthier countries. The likelihood of death after age 65 from heart disease was 283 (male) and 283 (female) per 1,000 people during 1990–1993. The number of cardiovascular deaths in 1994 was 74,182 people. Arteriosclerosis is a major cause of death (100 per 100,000 people). Contributing factors include the incidence of cardiovascular disease, which is directly related to stress through pressures of work, together with smoking and dietary factors. Hungary has one of the highest smoking rates in Europe. Between 1986 and 1994 nearly 50% of men and 25% of women were smokers. In 1990, there were 40 reported cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people. In 1997, children up to one year old were vaccinated against tuberculosis, 100%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 100%; polio, 100%; and measles, 100%.
Compulsory testing for HIV has been widespread since 1988 in Hungary's attempt to stop the spread of AIDS. Hungary has resisted pressure from international agencies to switch from compulsory to voluntary testing. As of 1999, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 2,500 and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at fewer than 100. HIV prevalence was 0.05 per 100 adults.