How does healthcare in Poland work and how to apply for health insurance in Poland? How about European citizens and expats from UK?
Health insurance is a very important thing. When coming to Poland, non-EU citizens who apply for a visa have to get travel insurance but it usually only covers emergencies. When planning to settle in Poland, you need to switch to the other type of insurance. As you already know from our other guide, there are two options for health insurance in Poland: public and private. Let’s go through them.
Public Health Insurance
The health insurance system in Poland is based on principles of equal treatment and access to healthcare services. The National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia; NFZ) is the institution responsible for public medical services in Poland and they manage public funds for healthcare.
Who can access public healthcare in Poland?
- all Polish citizens, who do not have any other health insurance (an employment contract), pensioner, retired or unemployed status, KRUS insurance or running business operations).
- citizens of an EU or EFTA member state residing in the territory of an EU or EFTA member state,
- non-citizens of an EU or EFTA member state residing in Poland on the basis of legal permits issued by appropriate authorities,
- non-citizens of an EU or EFTA member state legally residing in the territory of an EU or EFTA member state,
- students and participants of doctoral studies (also persons participating in Polish language courses and preparatory courses to start learning Polish), who study in Poland and are noncitizens of an EU or EFTA member state,
- members of convents and seminarists of seminaries and theological universities, who are noncitizens of an EU or EFTA member state and reside in Poland based on relevant permits,
- persons during adaptation internships.
Employees on employment or fee-for-task contracts get public health insurance automatically. Every month, 9% percent of the salary will be transferred for insurance purposes.
Employees on employment or fee-for-task contracts get public health insurance automatically. Every month, 9% percent of the salary will be transferred for insurance purposes. An insured employee has an obligation to report his/her family members to be covered by the health insurance under their employment contract if they aren’t insured by NFZ. If you change an employer, you have to report your family members to the new employer too. Adding family members doesn’t result in paying additional or higher contributions.
Health insurance is mandatory for all students for the whole duration of their stay in Poland, even if it’s a short-term study. Students have to apply for it on their own. In order to get voluntary public health insurance, you need a registered address for your stay. To get it, you need to fill in a few documents in Polish and bring them to the NFZ branch in your city. To learn how to fill out the documents, check out this guide.
Cost of public health insurance
If you’d like to get public healthcare on your own, you can do this. The minimum amount depends on the average salary in Poland, currently (for March 2022) it’s about 560 PLN per month.
University students and doctoral students pay much less – about 55 PLN a month. The most important thing about this insurance is that NFZ will check your previous insurance period. If you have never been to Poland or haven’t paid insurance in the last 3 months, you’ll have to make a payment for the gap period.
Gap period payments
The gap period payment is also calculated based on the average salary is currently is about:
- 3-12 months – 1244,21 PLN
- 12-24 months – 3110,52 PLN (it can be paid in 3 installments)
- 24-60 months – 6221,04 PLN (it can be paid in 6 installments)
- 60-120 months – 9331,56 PLN (it can be paid in 9 installments)
- over 120 months – 12442,08 (it can be paid in 12 installments)
What does the National Health Fund offer?
The National Health Fund gives you the free access to:
- general practitioner/family doctor (“lekarz rodzinny” in Polish). Firsty you have to choose one – go to the closest NFZ clinic, ask for the application and the name of the doctor you should choose and fill it out according to the nurse’s guidance;
- night and medical care on holidays, hospital care, and emergency room;
- diagnostic tests – you firstly must get a referral from the doctor;
- visits to a specialist. You firstly must get a referral from your general practitioner and then you add your name to the list and wait for you visit. Without a referral you can go to psychiatrist, oncologist, dentist or gynecologist.
Public dentistry in Poland
Public health insurance covers only very basic dentistry treatments:
- basic dental filling (only children under 18 can get the better type)
- root canal treatment – for adults only from 3-3 canine tooth
- local anesthetic when doing a treatment
- partial dentures
In most cases you have to pay for it on your own. The treatment for children up to 18 years old is a little bit more inclusive.
European Health Insurance Card
All residents of European Union countries, the European Economic Area, and the United Kingdom are entitled to get free public health care offered by NFZ. Of course, they have to be registered to their home country’s public health system. The only thing they need is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
The card is issued for free and it’s given right away. It’s necessary to apply for the EHIC while still in your country of residence.
UK Citizens and GHIC
After Brexit, the UK issued its own version of the card – the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The card works exactly the same as EHIC and it allows the British to have access to public health care in EU countries. When having a valid EHIC, as both British and European, it’s still possible to have access to public health care. When the card expires, it’s necessary to get the GHIC.
How does the card work?
The cards are mostly used when traveling for a short period of time, for example a trip or a family visit. However, neither the EHIC nor the GHIC work as travel health insurance. They also can’t be used when having a planned medical treatment in the EU.
How to get a EHIC card?
To get the EHIC (or GHIC) you need to fill out a form and bring it to the health insurance provider in your country. In Poland the card is given right away and the whole process takes only a few minutes (if there isn’t any line of course).
How long is the card valid?
The duration of your EHIC depends on the issuing country and varies from a few months up to 20 years. For example, in Poland for an employee or self-employed person the card is valid for 3 years. When having insurance due to academic education, the card is valid for 18 months.
Private Insurance in Poland
Obviously, you can decide to insure yourself privately. You have to remember that private insurance policies don’t provide the same access to medical services that you can expect from the public one. Everything depends on the policy (the package). The cheapest one usually covers only visits to a general practitioner and a limited number of specialists. Of course, the more you pay, the more you get, but the costs might even go up to 3000 PLN per year.
What do you have to know?
Private insurance policies often set delay periods. This means that you cannot go to a certain doctor or have surgery unless you pay the contribution for 60 or even 120 days. Also, private health insurance doesn’t cover emergencies. In case you have an accident and you go to a public hospital, you’ll have to pay for your stay, all the tests, and treatment. Depending on your package, you may receive some kind of sickness benefit, but it’s not standard in all packages.
Private healthcare providers
Some employers (usually large international companies) in Poland do offer private healthcare packages as an extra benefit.
The two most popular private health insurance providers in Poland are LuxMed and Medicover. They have a large chain of their own medical facilities, but also cooperate with many other private laboratories and clinics.
Both LuxMed and Medicover have websites in English and have English speaking doctors. You can apply for the insurance online and then book an appointment as well. Depending on the package you’ll have access to different specialists and diagnostic tests. Packages usually don’t include dentistry, but it can be bought as an extra.
There’s also the PZU insurance company. Their website is in Polish only, so it can be more difficult for you to find relevant information, but you can check this brochure.
What to do in case of an emergency and urgent cases?
International *112* number
What to do in case you have an accident, you’re feeling bad at home or you feel your life is at risk? The best option is to call 112. It’s a common emergency telephone number, the same in all European Union countries.
The call is free of charge and you can reach not only an ambulance, but also fire and rescue, and police. You can even make a call without unlocking the phone or without any credits.
Night and holiday medical treatment
The general practitioners usually work standard working hours 8 AM to 5 PM. Of course, everything depends on the doctor and the workplace, but what to do if you need medical treatment after regular hours?
If you need urgent professional medical assistance at night, you can contact the official Teleplatform of First Contact (TPK – Teleplatforma Pierwszego Kontaktu).
What’s great about it, it operates not only in Polish, but also in English, Ukrainian, and Russian. The service is available from Monday to Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. It also works on Saturdays and Sundays and other public holidays from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The TPK operates all over the country, no matter where you are and if your general practitioner is around. The consultation will be done in the form of a teleconsultation held by a doctor, a nurse, or a midwife.
When to use TPK?
- in case of a sudden illness, outside office hours of your GP,
- in case of a sudden deterioration of your health with no symptoms suggesting an immediate life-threatening condition,
- when the measures taken or over-the-counter drugs have not brought about the expected improvement,
- when you are concerned that waiting for your GP to open may have a significant adverse effect on your health.
What can you recieve from TPK?
- a medical advice,
- an e-prescription,
- an e-referral,
- e-medical sick leave.
How to use the platform?
Just fill in the form in English and the medical staff of Teleplatform of First Contact will contact you within 3 hours over the phone.
The link to the form is here: https://dom.mz.gov.pl/nocna-swiateczna-opieka/en
You can also call at the free of charge number: 800 190 590