If you are living and working in Poland, you will have a number of options when it comes to healthcare. Firstly, there’s cover under the national health insurance scheme. Secondly, you can opt to pay for treatment out of pocket. And thirdly, you can take out private health insurance, whether you arrange this yourself or benefit from group cover through your employer. Furthermore, if you are from an EU nation, you will be able to use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Poland.You should also check to see whether your home nation has a bilateral healthcare agreement with Poland. The UK has such an agreement, for example, so you will be entitled to healthcare in Poland if you are resident there but from the UK.
How does the Polish state health insurance system work?
Poland has a two tier health insurance system, based on the public scheme of Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia (NFZ) and the private sector. As an expat worker, you will be covered by the NFZ if you and your employer are paying (compulsory) contributions into the system. Health insurance in Poland is on a reimbursement basis, i.e. it is not free at the point of delivery, so you will need to make some upfront costs.
Once you are registered with the NFZ, you will be able to access primary and secondary public healthcare services and will be able to register with your local GP. You may need a referral from your GP for certain specialist consultations. However, you can go to the following specialists without one:
You will need to take either your own insurance card, an insurance card belonging to family members, or a pension card. You will also need to check that you have the documentation that you need to put in a claim for reimbursement. Make sure the clinic gives you the paperwork for any treatments or prescriptions that you need.
You must register family members with the NFZ if they have no medical insurance (e.g. they are not working). In order to register a family member, their personal details must be given to your employer. Your family includes:
• Children (your own child, your spouse’s child, your adopted child, your grandchild, a child for whom you are the legal representative or surrogate parent) – until the child turns 18 or, if the child is continuing education, until they turn 26; if the child is certified as severely disabled then there is no age limit
• Parents and grandparents – if they form part of the same household
You can also register with the NFZ on a voluntary basis. If you do so, you will need to register any uninsured family members with the ZUS, after signing a voluntary health insurance agreement with the voivodship (your local branch of the NFZ). You will need to supply any of the following documentation that is relevant to you:
• A visa for work
• A temporary residency permit
• A permit to settle in Poland
• A long-term EU resident permit
• A permit for tolerated stay
• Proof of refugee status issued in Poland or proof of temporary protection in Poland
After signing a contract with the NFZ, you must fill out and submit the ZUS ZZA form at an appropriate ZUS branch or inspectorate.
Expats may also take out voluntary insurance with another insurance company. For example, PZU offers wojażer (voyager) insurance for foreigners coming to Poland for a holiday, to study or work.
The national scheme covers some basic dental treatment, but this is extremely limited. There is also private provision available, for which you will need to take out private insurance or pay out-of-pocket.
Private health insurance in Poland
Healthcare in Poland is often of a high standard. Indeed, the country is a destination for medical, as well as dental, tourism, especially in the areas of cosmetic surgery, orthopaedic, gynaecology and cardiac surgery. The standard is especially good in urban areas, but hospitals can have long waiting lists.
Many expats opt for private health cover. If you would like to do this, then remember to check whether your potential clinic accepts your private cover and which form of payment they would prefer. It is a good plan to seek word of mouth recommendations from friends or colleagues. Do not be afraid to shop around, and feel free to ask for testimonials and references.