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Health Service

Poland - Health Service

Emergency phone numbers in Poland are made free of charge, whether from a fixed phone line, phone box or a mobile phone. The numbers you should call depend on the service you require:

981: Road Assistance
986: Municipal Police
997: Police
998: Fire Brigade
999: Ambulance

If you are ringing from a mobile number, a local area code must be entered before the emergency number. If you don’t know the local code number, then you can ring 112.

In a medical emergency you will be taken to a hospital free of charge, even if you do not have state insurance. Many people in rural areas will be treated at home by local doctors. Alternatively, you may present yourself at an Emergency Department in the local hospital.

If your medical issue is not an emergency, you should visit a General Practitioner. Should you need to see a hospital consultant, it is the GP who will organise the referral. Getting registered with a GP is simple. It just requires the completion of a few forms, discussing your healthcare insurance with the administrator, and showing your identity documents. Many GPs will speak English, and you can ask about this before getting registered.

Poland spends more than 6% of GDP on its healthcare system. Everyone who works in Poland is required to contribute towards the National Health Fund ( Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia or NFZ), which provides them with a level of health insurance. Employers will pay the NFZ costs for their employees, whilst the self-employed cover their own payments. Close family members in the same household are also covered by the head of household’s NFZ insurance. Refugees and special status foreigners with legal permission to temporarily remain are covered by the state, as are the unemployed regularly attending unemployment centres. If you are staying in Poland illegally, only children who attend school may receive state medical treatment.

If you have moved to Poland from the UK or another country in the EEA, your EHIC card will provide a minimal level of insurance cover. This means you will receive free emergency treatment, but most of the time you will be asked to make a contribution for part of the cost. This cover will include pre-existing conditions and for maternity care, as long as you did not enter the country with the specific aim to give birth there. If you want to be fully covered for all costs, then you either pay NFZ contributions or pay for private medical insurance.

If you don’t qualify for the NFZ scheme and have moved from a non-EEA country, you can arrange to join the scheme and make payments voluntarily. To do this you must file paperwork with the National Insurance Service office and provide proof that you are living legally in Poland. Your family members can also be added to this application. The NIS office will advise you of the payments you must make by the 15th of each month.

There are fewer doctors per head of population than many other European countries, and they are most likely to work in a city. Rural areas can therefore have more limited access to medical services. Doctors and nurses will often have at least a basic working knowledge of English.

There are a number of private hospitals across the country who will provide treatment to fee paying patients, and a higher percentage of Polish residents use private healthcare insurance schemes than in many other European countries. Healthcare insurance covers the full cost of the treatment, without additional costs charged to the patient, although the costs are affordable to most people on a decent income should you not have adequate cover. The private hospitals do not have the waiting lists associated with public hospitals. However, treatment for complicated conditions, such as cancer, will normally occur in state hospitals.

It is normal to pay for dental care in Poland, which is an industry with a good reputation within the country and internationally.

Male life expectancy in Poland is 73.6 years, and for women it is 81.3 years. This is lower than many other European countries but similar to that in nearby Eastern European countries. The average 76.80 years is 41st in the list of global average life expectancy.

On average, Polish women give birth to their first child shortly after they have celebrated their 27th birthday. The size of families is quite small, with an average of 1.34 children for each woman of child rearing age. Infant mortality is at the high end of the OECD averages, but is several places below that of the US.

An important health crisis affecting Poland is the significant rise in obesity levels over the past few decades, especially amongst women and children. Affecting 27% of the population, obesity is now at an equivalent rate of other western nations. Two generations ago obesity was rare, but free market arrival in Poland and the same lifestyle and food changes that have happened elsewhere have made obesity a common problem across the country.

Just over 30% of Polish territory is covered in forests. That makes it the 4th most forested country in Europe. Tickborne encephalitis is therefore a risk. Two out of three people affected by the virus don’t suffer symptoms, and many of those who do will recover quickly. A small minority of those bitten will develop very serious complications and about 1% may die. If you have not been vaccinated against TBE and suffer flu like symptoms, you should seek medical attention urgently.

Approximately 37% of men and 24% of women in Poland smoke cigarettes, and forty billion cigarettes are sold in the country each year. Duty free cigarettes may be brought into the country as long as the personal limits are respected. Since 2010 it has been illegal to smoke in enclosed public places and places where people will gather. You will be fined for smoking at a bus or train station, and for smoking on public transport. Some hotels will offer smoking rooms, and some shopping centres have designated smoking spaces out of the way of other shoppers. Bars, clubs and restaurants can offer smoking spaces if they have separate well ventilated rooms. There has been criticism of the lack of penalty for those establishments which instead create small rooms for non-smokers and dedicate the larger space as smoking rooms, but the majority of these social businesses are completely non-smoking spaces.

Following the ban on smoking in public places, sales associated with vaping increased significantly. In 2016, following concern from a variety of sources, it became illegal to sell vaping products to children, and to vape in public places. Advertising of e-cigarettes, and their sale from vending machines and over the internet, have all been banned.

Nearly all areas of Poland have clean drinking water and good access to sanitation facilities. Some rural areas depend on local water sources such as a well, for which water testing is advised. However, bottled water is readily available for sale to those who would prefer to use it.

If you are bringing medicines into Poland following a trip elsewhere, make sure all drugs and syringes are still in their original packaging, with pharmacist labels that identify you as the patient in the same name as your passport.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts you can seek help from the following organisations, where someone on duty may be able to speak to you in English:

Tupalo Tel: 226 544 041 (depression help)
TVPTel: 116123
• Befrienders Worldwide have international centres, including one in Poland; they help people requiring emotional support.

Alternatively, you could call The Samaritans in the UK on (+44) 116 123 although international call charges apply when calling from Poland.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

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