If you’re planning on moving to Poland, gratulacje (congratulations)!

This historically fascinating country has emerged from the shadows of Nazi and Soviet occupation to become a thriving democracy with beautiful mountains, beaches, and cities.

But before you become one more of the 36,585 British expats enjoying life in Poland, you’ll want to understand what kind of healthcare you’ll have access to once you arrive.

And if you want to join the 2.6 million people in Poland who have private health insurance, we recommend Cigna.

The company helps more than 95 million customers all over the world, and has the know-how to get you the right cover, too.

Start building a customised plan with a free quote to protect your most important assets – you and your family.

Polish healthcare: key stats

  • 0
    % of the population have private healthcare
  • 0
    average life expectancy
  • 0
    doctors per 10,000 people
the Tatras Mountains in poland

The Tatras Mountains form one of many stunning natural attractions in Poland

How does Poland’s healthcare system work?

Since passing its 1997 constitution, Poland has had a universal healthcare system, like the UK and most other countries in the world.

This means everyone who’s registered can receive a variety of free health services, along with their dependents – so your children will also be covered if you are.

There are also private insurance companies, which 6.8% of the population currently use.

In 2004, the public healthcare system was centralised under one governmental organisation: the Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia, or NFZ (National Health Fund).

Companies arrange the healthcare coverage of their employees, and pay their monthly contributions to the NFZ. Self-employed people have to sign up themselves, and manage their own monthly payments.

Once you’ve registered with the NFZ, you’ll have access to the following services, which are free unless otherwise indicated:

  • Visits to your GP
  • Specialist services
  • Gynaecologist and obstetrician services
  • Venereologist services
  • Oncologist services
  • Psychiatrist services
  • Hospital care (including all treatments, surgeries, examinations, and medicines)
  • Dentist services (including three checkups per year, surgeries, disease treatments, prosthetics, and emergency care)
  • Partial or full refunds for all medications included on the government’s official list

Is healthcare free in Poland?

No. In the same way as other universal health systems, you can usually only receive care if you pay the monthly tax that funds the system.

If you’re employed, your company will pay the tax with 7.75% of your monthly salary, while also contributing 1.25% of its net income. You won’t have to lift a finger.

Self-employed residents will have to pay 4.9% of their monthly income, after the government bowed to criticism that a higher rate would damage small businesses.

Quality of healthcare in Poland

Poland’s healthcare system ranks 39th in the world, according to a 2018 study published in The Lancet and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

That puts it 16 places below the UK, which sits in 23rd.

Poland’s healthcare offering is better than all of its neighbours to the east, including Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, and Ukraine – but worse than most European nations to the west, including the UK.

On the surface, the numbers look good – Poland’s maternal mortality rate is 3.5 times lower than the UK’s, it has 6.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people (compared to the UK’s 2.5 beds), and its under-five mortality rate of 4 per 1,000 is the same as the UK’s.

But these statistics paper over the cracks. Proportionally speaking, Poland has fewer physicians, nurses, midwives, and specialist surgeons than the UK – in fact, it has roughly half the number of specialist surgeons found in the UK.

There’s a reason why the average life expectancy in Poland is 78.3 – a substantial 3.1 years less than in the UK.

This situation isn’t helped by the Polish government’s lack of healthcare spending – it currently adds up to just 6.33% of Poland’s GDP, according to the World Bank.

It was this lack of healthcare expenditure that led doctors to go on a hunger strike in 2018, and to take to the streets in a mass strike in 2019.

They went on strike again in 2021, with 30,000 healthcare workers marching in Warsaw while calling for – among other things – a rise in healthcare spending to 8% of the country’s GDP.

Poland’s current 6.33% figure is significantly lower than the UK’s 10% figure, but it’s also less than the percentage spent on healthcare by relatively poor nations like Eswatini, Dominica, and Tajikistan.

It’s also worth noting that in 2021, abortion was banned in Poland in every case, except when the pregnancy is the result of a criminal act, or when the pregnant person’s life or physical health is at risk.

Healthcare in Poland for foreigners

First, you need to become a Polish resident. Then, you can register with the national healthcare system.

If you’re employed, your company should do this for you, but check with them just in case.

If you’re self-employed but would still like to sign up to the public healthcare system, just visit a regional NFZ office to sign up.

6.8% of residents in Poland – that’s 2.6 million people – have private medical insurance. If you want to join them, then we recommend Cigna.

Start building a customised plan with a free quote to protect your most important assets – you and your family.

Do I need health insurance in Poland?

Legally, you’re not compelled to have health insurance when you move to Poland.

However, if you don’t sign up to the public healthcare system – perhaps because you’re not currently a resident – you should acquire private medical insurance.

If you don’t, and you need any kind of medical care, you’ll have to choose between paying the unsubsidised rate for public healthcare, or paying out of pocket for private healthcare.

Going public may leave you on a waiting list, while going private without insurance will be even more expensive.

This means the most sensible option is to get a private policy – especially if you can’t sign up for public healthcare.

Benefits of private medical cover in Poland

  • You’ll enjoy shorter waiting times
  • It covers more of your potential costs
  • You’ll have more peace of mind
  • You’ll receive the highest level of care possible
  • Medical equipment is more up to date
  • Having fewer unexpected expenses means you can budget your healthcare in advance
  • Staff will be more likely to speak English
  • The paperwork is also more likely to be in English

How much does health insurance cost in Poland?

For an individual

You should expect to pay around £454 per year for private cover in Poland, which comes to £38 per month.

It’s worth getting a few different quotes though, as prices can vary massively.

For a family

To cover a family of four in Poland, it’ll cost you around £1,440 per year.

That means you’ll pay about 99p per day, per person to secure peace of mind – and a better level of care, if you ever need it.

Advice for expats moving to Poland

  • The exchange rate for Brits is excellent, so if you bring some savings to supplement your salary, you should be comfortable
  • The Polish language is difficult to learn, but well worth it, as English isn’t as widely spoken here as it is in many other European countries
  • Expect freezing winters and warm – though not hot – summers
  • Go exploring. Warsaw and Wrocław are pretty and inviting, there are some gorgeous, sandy beaches, and Tatra National Park is perfect for hiking
  • Poland has some unique, must-see sites. The Crooked Forest is breathtaking, the Wieliczka salt mine is beautiful, and Auschwitz defies description
  • The legal drinking age is 18, and it’s illegal to drink in public places – so keep your delicious Polish beer inside
  • The political atmosphere in Poland has turned decidedly anti-migrant, anti-free speech, and nationalist in recent years – so be careful what you say

What’s next?

If you want to protect yourself and your family with private health insurance in Poland, we recommend Cigna.

With four levels of annual cover to choose from and extra modules for more flexibility, Cigna will sort you out with a plan that suits your needs. Start building a customised plan today, complete with a free quote.