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An Overview of Healthcare in Poland

Healthcare in Poland
Poland is an eastern European country between Belarus and Ukraine. As a member of the European Union, Poland enjoys many benefits and privileges. Many consider the eastern European country’s economy one of the most developed in Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, its Human Development Index (HDI) score is around .872, which is very high. Additionally, Poland has a successful universal healthcare system, although it has experienced challenges. Here is some information about healthcare in Poland.

Universal Healthcare

Nearly all European countries have free and universal healthcare, and Poland is no exception. The country offers a free public healthcare system in which every Polish and E.U. resident has the right to accessible healthcare, supported by the National Health Fund. The organization’s funding consists of a mandatory contribution from every Polish citizen: an 8.5% deduction from individual income. These deductions are the main source of funding for public and free health insurance. However, Poland does offer private health insurance as well. As of 2017, 91% of Poland’s population has insurance.

Flaws in Polish Healthcare 

Although Poland’s healthcare coverage is impressive, organizational problems, politics, underfunding and outdated technology still plague the system. The percentage of the population that has insurance is high, at 91%, but this is still lower than in many other European countries. Poland’s organizational structure is also incredibly understaffed in physicians, and especially specialists. Under the current Polish government, funding for the National Health Fund is also converting into a federal budget funding system, further complicating the bureaucracy of Polish healthcare. 

Income Inequality and Health

Another problem that plagues healthcare in Poland is the disparity of health between high income- and low-income groups. According to Poland’s 2017 health profile, 71% of high-income citizens report that they are in good health while only 53% of low-income citizens state the same. This 18 point difference is sizeable, considering Poland’s population. Poland’s life expectancy rate is also lower than most European countries, ranking 24th in the E.U. at around 77.5 years. With the improvement of its healthcare system, Poland has the potential to increase its life expectancy and decrease the health gap.

Poland’s healthcare system is effective in providing basic primary care to its residents. One can attribute this to both the improved treatment for cardiovascular disease– the leading cause of death in Poland–and the centralization of Poland’s healthcare system since 1999. However, the nation must prioritize the improvement of its organizational structure and funding system to continue to benefit its citizens.

Poland’s healthcare system is keeping most citizens healthy, but there are further improvements necessary in order for the current system to increase efficiency and reach beyond-average higher standards of health. Healthcare in Poland may not currently live up to the standards of other western European countries, but it has the potential to improve its healthcare structure to compete with and possibly surpass them in the future, considering its relative economic stability. In pursuit of this goal, Poland is taking steps to improve its healthcare system. The Polish Ministry of Health has begun using electronic prescriptions and other e-health technologies to improve coordination between hospitals, physicians and patients. The Ministry is also working on plans to further increase the number of physicians and specialists available in the public sector. Such reforms are essential to remaining competitive with other European countries.

Sadat Tashin
Photo: Flickr