Hungary's parliament approved Monday a bitterly contested bill further opening up healthcare to private insurers, overturning a presidential veto.
Lawmakers approved the health care insurance reform bill by a vote of 203 to 173.
They first approved the bill in December, but it was vetoed by President Laszlo Solyom. Under the Hungarian constitution the president must now sign the legislation into law.
Under the reform the state national health insurer will be replaced by 22 regional ones in which private insurance companies will be allowed to hold stakes of up to 49 percent, with the state retaining the rest.
The government of Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has said the state will continue to guarantee universal healthcare coverage.
But the opposition conservatives and unions fear profit-orientated private insurance firms will not want to insure the chronically ill and the elderly, or only at far higher prices.
With the highest deficit ratio in the 27-nation European Union, Hungary's government has been under intense pressure to slash spending.