Did you know that the tiny country of Poland, situated in Eastern Europe, has been voted as the second-best country in the world for people looking to start a career? This is definitely the best time to say hello (or “Cześć”) to this land of opportunities.
So, while you are busy short-listing residential facilities, visa procedures, and things to pack, don’t forget to purchase Poland expat health insurance. These expat insurance plans ensure uninterrupted health facilities for you and your family.
Before you buy an expat health insurance plan, understand the Polish healthcare system. This will help you get a better understanding of what you have and what you need. Poland's healthcare system consists of both public and private hospitals and clinics.
Public Healthcare in Poland
The public healthcare system in Poland is known as the Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia (NFZ), or the National Health Fund. The NFZ is financed, managed, and controlled by the Ministry of Health of Poland.
Since 2004, all Polish individuals who pay contributions to the Polish ZUS (Social Insurance Institution) are eligible for health insurance under the NFZ. All EU/EEA citizens can take advantage of health solutions under the NFZ with their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).
If you are relocating to Poland as an expatriate on a work permit, your employer is required to pay the ZUS contribution on your behalf. Students and self-employed or business expatriates need to pay for the ZUS to be eligible for the NFZ healthcare facilities and services.
Registration for the NFZ is a two-step process:
- Report to the local NFZ branch and submit your visa documents, passport, and other important documents.
- Fill in an application form known as the ‘ZUS ZUA’, and pay the contribution fees required under the ZUS.
Expatriates can also add their family members to the ZUS plan to provide them with healthcare opportunities, also.
The ZUS grants you access to public hospitals, clinics, medical infrastructure, and medical professionals who have signed a contract with the NFZ. These include:
- General Practitioners: Most GP services are included under the Polish public health insurance plan. You need to consult a GP registered with the NFZ. Also, most specialist consultations, medical treatments, and hospital admissions to public healthcare in Poland require a referral from your GP. However, consultations with dentists, gynecologists, obstetricians, oncologists, psychiatrists, and venereologists (specialists of sexually transmitted diseases) may not require a GP referral.
- Specialist Doctors: Under the NFZ guidelines, ZUS policy-holders can go to specialist doctors only after obtaining a referral from your GP. However, specialist consultation in emergencies doesn’t require a GP referral.
- Hospitalization and In-Patient Treatment: Services include doctor consultation, diagnosis, medical examinations, comprehensive treatments, surgeries, and follow up consultations.
- Dentists: The NFZ provides limited health insurance coverage for dental services.
Problems Associated With the NFZ
The NFZ runs on the principles of “equal treatment and access to healthcare services”. Unfortunately, it’s plagued with several problems.
- The NFZ services are not free. To access NFZ services, you need to pay the ZUS fees. In the case of most expat employees, your employer shall deduct the ZUS fees from your salary.
- Another drawback of the NFZ is that it doesn’t offer cashless services. They will only provide a reimbursement of your health expenses.
- To access specialist treatments, you need a GP referral, which leads to delay in treatments.
- There is a shortage of specialist doctors registered with the NFZ, causing long delays and waiting times for treatments.
- A lot of public hospitals lack up-to-date medical equipment and have little access to modern medication.
- Also, several diseases, illnesses, injuries, and medical treatments are not covered under the basic NFZ plan. You may need to pay extra contribution fees to be eligible for these extra services.
Polish Expat Health Insurance Plans
The Polish public healthcare system was ranked as low as 32nd of 35 countries under the European Health Consumer Index (EHCI). Most expatriates moving to Poland prefer to purchase a Polish expatriate insurance coverage plan instead of the NFZ.
A Poland expat health insurance plan is especially suited for expatriates relocating to Poland for career opportunities, business, study, or even as long-term tourists. Polish expat health insurance is the easiest way of gaining access to private healthcare in Poland along with several other facilities.
Along with providing medical facilities and financial coverage to health-related problems, a Poland expat medical insurance plan may also provide extra services like:
- Medical evacuations with Poland as well as to other countries in case of an emergency
- Ambulance and related emergency services
Benefits of Expatriate Health Insurance
Usually, expats travelling to Poland prefer a Polish expat private health insurance plan over the NFZ for the following reasons.
- A private expat health insurance in Poland is a cost-effective insurance coverage, as compared to the extra contribution fees involved in the ZUS.
- It provides the option of buying several add-on services including medical evacuations and comprehensive dental, optical, rehabilitation, and physiotherapy treatments.
- Along with medical facilities in Poland, expat health insurance also provides medical insurance coverage in Europe, North America, and other parts of the world to suit your requirements.
- Can there be anything more frustrating than not being able to understand your doctor while you are ill in a foreign country? A Poland expat healthcare plan safeguards you against the problems associated with the language barrier and gives you access to English-speaking healthcare services.
- And last but not least, a private expat health insurance in Poland means that you do not need a GP referral for medical treatments.
Don’t buy the first plan you see. Compare several different plans, select the one that best fits your personal needs, and ensure comprehensive coverage with Poland expatriate health insurance during your stay.