So I literally haven't blogged since the holiday season. While I have missed writing about my experience here in Hungary, I have instead been LIVING it and I'm ready to share. I recently delivered a beautiful baby girl in Budapest, and boy was it an experience.
Navigating the health system in a different country is a task. I spent many nights reading threads on Budapest Facebook groups about delivering at a public hospital or a private hospital, vaccinations, insurance, etc.
Unfortunately, since I am not a citizen of the EU I was not covered under the free health care program. Since I didn't' have international insurance, my American insurance would not cover my prenatal care in Budapest. My American insurance only covered me if I went to the Emergency Room. Once you're pregnant it is too late to apply for international insurance because your pregnancy is seen as pre-existing medical condition. So my husband and I had to pay for the visits and delivery out of pocket. While it was expensive, it was less expensive then having a child in America without insurance.
Public or Private Health Care
After a lot of research we decided to go with private care, and bounced between two private practices before I made my decision to stay with the Rozsakert Medical Center. They have a large practice that would cover our entire family's needs, from prenatal to pediatricians. The entire practice has English speaking receptionists, nurses, doctors, and all of our paper work was in English, as well. Being able to understand my health coverage in English was highly important to me.
When it came down to my delivery, I had a great midwife and doctor who practiced western medicine, supported natural births and spoke perfect English. My doctor consistently goes to conferences in America to keep up to date on the latest findings in medicine, and is always educating himself. This made me feel very secure in my decision of delivering in a different country.
While I didn't have a natural birth in the end and was called into an emergency C-section, I felt safe in the hands of my doctor. There was a moment when everything went from English to Hungarian when my baby's heart dropped, which is when my husband and I locked eyes in fear. But once the midwife and nurses stabilized me and the baby, they resumed to English and explained what had just happened. In the end I knew it was easier for them to communicate with each other faster in their native tongue to keep me and the baby safe. To read more about my birth story click here.
I would say that there were a few moments where I was glad that my husband spoke Hungarian as he was able to translate certain things that were lost in translation. Without him things would have been a little more bumpy as my private practice RMC delivers at the private hospital Robert Karoly, and not all the staff spoke English. So yes, having a translator at all times was a big help although almost everything was in English.
One week after my delivery my child saw her pediatrician at RMC. She was my top choice because she practiced in America and knew a lot about the American Vaccination Schedule. Also we could communicate easily because she was born and raised in America. She supported my decision not to get the European required BCG Vaccine and helped me make a EU/American vaccine schedule that made sense for my daughter as we are unsure where our lives will take us in the years to come. My mother-in-law is a nurse and was present for the first visit with the pediatrician. Her mind was put at ease after our visit with the pediatrician. She had reservations about the health care in Hungary and was pleasantly surprised. I felt good knowing that all my research wasn't for nothing, as I had done a great job.
My husband is a dual citizen of Hungary and America and I am an American Citizen who is a legal resident of Hungary. We were married in America, and with the registration of our marriage at the Hungarian Embassy, this ensured that any children we may have will always be dual citizens. My daughter has a Hungarian birth certificate. With that we were able to go to the American Embassy and register her to get an American Birth certificate, and her American Passport. The embassy also helps with the paperwork to get her Social Security number, which gets processed by another government office in Poland. We opted to get her Social Security number when we visit the states next month, as it is a faster processing time. We then headed to the Hungarian government office to get her passport, her free health care card, and state ID. The process was easy, and we are excited that our daughter is a dual citizen with two passports on the way.
In the end, if you're having reservations about delivering in another country, then don't. Do your research, be as prepared as you can be, and ask fellow expats questions when they arise. I've met some wonderful and helpful mothers online that I have never met in real life that were knowledgable and were able to help me make informed decisions along the way.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.