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Accessing healthcare in Poland

Poland is one of the most beautiful European countries to travel to – whether for a holiday or part of a larger trip – and it has plenty to offer, whether you’re looking to kick back and relax or you’re more of an adventure type! If you’re soon to be jetting off to Poland, you’ll be sure to have a checklist of items to take with you – among the shoes and sunglasses should be an EHIC, to ensure you are medically covered abroad. Understanding the healthcare system of the country you’re paying a visit to is an important part of your travel prep and should not be ignored, as running into medical problems abroad can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds if the right paperwork isn’t in place.

What is the healthcare system like in Poland?

Poland’s standard state healthcare system is very advanced, and Polish doctors – although few and far between – are praised for being exceptionally knowledgeable and well trained. The system is funded through government allocations and also through compulsory deductions from pay and benefits, with no resident of Poland being exempt. The amount to be paid differs depending on income and status, but every Polish resident must contribute to the healthcare system. Most healthcare in Poland is free, although similar to the UK there is often a token fee for prescriptions. Owing to the shortage of doctors in Poland, it is common for sly cash-in-hand transactions to take place in order to secure a faster service or to have an element of control in other situations. Emergency care is available for everyone in Poland free of charge, regardless of whether they fail to meet the standards for state health insurance, but this emergency service does not compare to the UK service and is criticised for being slow, leading to further health problems. A vast amount of Polish residents opt for private healthcare to avoid the very long wait times associated with the state care.

What cover is offered to visitors?

Visitors to Poland should be covered by the healthcare system and minimal charges should be incurred, although wait times are long and any discrepancies with paperwork indicating that you’re covered as an EU citizen could lead to even further delays. To avoid issues, it is advisable to have an EHIC card offering you free medical treatment and ensuring that any treatment and medication you need before returning to the UK is given to you promptly and without significant charge. As with many EU countries, the number to call in an emergency is 112, but the Polish ambulance service can be contacted directly via 999.

If you’re planning a trip to Poland, fill in a quick and easy form to obtain your free EHIC card and avoid nasty surprise costs abroad. It is also important to remember that an EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance, and getting this is a necessity before you travel.

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