The EHIC is one of the most important travel documents tourists should carry with them, as it entitles them to free or reduced cost medical treatment while they’re abroad.
Poland is one of the European Economic Area countries, which means that if tourists get ill or are in an accident while travelling in Poland they’ll get access to the nation’s public healthcare.
How the EHIC works in Poland
The EHIC should not be seen as an alternative to travel insurance, even though in many cases tourists who carry the card will not have to pay a penny for their healthcare while travelling in Europe.
Holding the card also entitles people to treatment of pre-existing medical conditions during their time in Poland.
Private treatment is not covered by an EHIC, so tourists must make sure that their healthcare provider in Poland has a contract with the Polish National Health Fund.
Hospital treatment in Poland requires being referred by a GP, with the system working in much the same way as the NHS does in the UK. Doctors surgeries are usually open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and various health units also offer a 24-hour medical service.
EHIC holders will not have to pay for any operations, diagnostic tests and medicines that are needed during a stay in hospital in Poland.
Dentist treatment is also available to EHIC holders travelling to Poland, but as many Polish dentists work both privately and for the health service care must be taken when arranging.
Prescriptions can be issued to EHIC holders by doctors in Poland who are registered with the national health service.
A lump-sum price of 3,20 zł is payable in order to access prescriptions in Poland. Supplementary medicines are charged at either 30% or 50% of the cost of a medicine.
Some medicines that are not included in the reimbursed drugs list must be paid for in full.
Poland is one of the many countries enjoying a growing reputation for medical tourism.
However, an EHIC cannot be used for this purpose and no free or reduced cost healthcare will be given to people who are travelling to Poland for medical reasons alone.
For example, anyone who heads to Poland to give birth will not get access to free maternity care, but if a pregnant woman goes into labour while travelling in the country, she will.
Arranging healthcare in advance
Travellers with pre-existing medical conditions may need to arrange medical treatment in advance before travelling to Poland.
Provision of oxygen is among the healthcare available to EHIC holders, as well as renal dialysis and routine medical care.
As no private healthcare is covered by the EHIC, travellers going to Poland need to make sure any medical care or treatment providers they use have a contract with the Polish health service. Particular care should be taken by anyone relying on medical care that has been arranged by a travel representative or hotel, as they may have selected a private healthcare provider.