Poland is a central European state which shares its borders with no fewer than 7 countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. A member of the European Union since 2004, it is the 9th largest and most densely populated country in Europe. The Polish territory, bordered by the Baltic Sea in the north, is a contrast of lush plains, mountain ranges, huge forests and lakes.
Discover how the Polish healthcare system works
Like many European countries, Poland has an efficient and modern healthcare system. Public healthcare is free of charge for everyone who is enrolled in the National Health Insurance scheme.
As a citizen of an EU member state, you can use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) while in Poland, whether you are traveling or living abroad. To do this, you need to apply to your health insurance scheme at least 15 days before your departure. By using this card, you will be covered for most of your medical expenses in Poland (basic healthcare; specialized outpatient care; hospital treatment; dental care, etc.) under the same conditions as local people who are enrolled in the scheme.
If you are working under a local contract in Poland, your employer will enroll you in the Polish Social Security system.
Even so, it is strongly recommended to take out private international health insurance for your stay in Poland. This will allow you to benefit from excellent medical coverage in the public and private sectors, as well as providing you with repatriation assistance.
Visiting a doctor
For a medical consultation in Poland, make an appointment with a doctor who has a contract with the National Health Fund (NFZ). This will allow you to benefit from the direct billing system on presentation of your European health insurance card.
You can consult general practitioners freely, but for the vast majority of specialists, you need to get a prescription from your treating doctor beforehand.
The average cost of a medical consultation is between 80 and 200 PLN (17 to 40 euros), depending on the type of healthcare service.
Being admitted to hospital
To be admitted to hospital, you will need a prescription from a doctor, except in an emergency. If the hospital is affiliated to the NFZ, you will not have to pay the hospital charges in advance on presentation of your EHIC.
Hospitals in Poland are well equipped and the medical personnel is highly qualified. On the other hand, there are long waits and delays are frequent in public hospitals. Waiting times are shorter in the private sector (which accounts for 30% of the healthcare budget in Poland), but the costs are higher.
Vaccinations to be carried out
There are no vaccination requirements for traveling to Poland. However, it is advisable to be up to date with your vaccination schedule (measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, etc.).
If you go to rural or wooded areas in endemic regions at altitudes of up to 1,500 meters in spring, summer or autumn, it is also advisable to be vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis.
While in Poland, you will have no trouble finding a pharmacy, wherever you are. Many medicines are available over the counter in the country. Some medicines are fully reimbursed by the local health insurance scheme. To find out if your medication will be reimbursed, you can consult the list on the Polish Ministry of Health website.
There are no particular health risks to be aware of before traveling to Poland. However, you should take precautions to protect yourself from tick bites, which carry diseases such as tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease.
You should also be aware that levels of fine particle pollution can be high in some areas of the country, especially in Silesia, Katowice, Krakow and Warsaw.
It is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during a stay in Poland.
Lastly, follow the protective and hygiene measures against coronavirus, as well as the regulations in force in Poland when you leave (vaccination, mask wearing etc.).
Good to know
European emergency number: 112
Fire service: 998
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