The Polish healthcare system is based on an insurance model. This means that in order to receive medical aid (also at a hospital emergency department), and avoid medical treatment costs, you must have a health insurance. There are only a few exceptions to the rule (for example holders of Pole’s card may receive emergency medical aid free-of-charge).
As part of the National Health Fund, anyone who belongs to one of the following groups is insured:
- persons covered by obligatory health insurance (e.g. employees, self-employed persons, old-age pensioners, disability pensioners, unemployed persons);
- family members of the insured person, registered for insurance.
In some cases, the family member status is an exemption from the obligation of health insurance coverage. For instance, students under 26 years old should be registered for health insurance as a person pursuing education only if they cannot be registered as family members.
You are registered for health insurance by the payer of your health insurance contributions. The payers of health insurance contribution include, for example,:
● employers - registering their employees,
● schools - registering pupils,
● employment offices - registering unemployed persons.
If you are self-employed, you are obliged to register for health insurance independently. The payer files a registration request with the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS - Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych).
You may take out a voluntary health insurance for you and your family members, which is subject to fee payment. Submit an application at the provincial branch of the National Health Fund with a jurisdiction over your place of residence, or in one of its local offices.
For more information about obligatory health insurance, go to the ZUS website. You may also use the services provided by insurance companies, but remember to carefully read the terms & conditions of the insurance package you decide to take out.