How to Enroll in the Public Healthcare System in Poland

A primer on how to enroll in the public healthcare system in Poland.
|-How to Enroll in the Public Healthcare System in Poland

If you’re planning to enroll in the public healthcare system in Poland, this article covers the requirements for foreigners to be able enroll in the public healthcare system, the steps involved and more.

The public healthcare system in Poland is known as the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia, or NFZ). It is funded by mandatory contributions from all residents, deducted from their salaries. The quality of healthcare provided by the NFZ can vary. While it covers a wide range of services, including hospital stays, specialist consultations, and certain medications, it is often criticized for long waiting times for non-emergency procedures. Despite this, most Polish residents use the NFZ due to its affordability.

Eligibility for Foreigners

Foreigners are eligible to enroll in the NFZ if they are legally residing in Poland and are either employed or self-employed, paying social security contributions. This includes those on temporary residence permits, long-term EU resident permits, or permanent residence permits. Students and those on work visas are also eligible. EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for temporary stays.

Steps to Enroll in the NFZ

  1. Obtain legal residence: Before you can enroll in the NFZ, you must first have legal residence in Poland. This could be a temporary residence permit, a long-term EU resident permit, or a permanent residence permit.
  2. Obtain employment or self-employment: You must be either employed or self-employed in Poland and paying social security contributions to be eligible for the NFZ.
  3. Register with the NFZ: Once you have legal residence and employment or self-employment, you can register with the NFZ. This involves filling out a form and providing proof of your residence and employment status.
  4. Pay contributions: Once registered, you will need to pay regular contributions to the NFZ. These are typically deducted from your salary if you are employed.

It’s important to note that while the NFZ covers a wide range of services, it does not cover everything. Some services, such as certain dental procedures and medications, may require out-of-pocket payment. It’s also worth noting that while the NFZ is generally affordable, the quality of care can vary, and there can be long waiting times for non-emergency procedures.

Alternatives to the NFZ

If you’re not satisfied with the quality of care provided by the NFZ, or if you’re not eligible to enroll, there are alternatives. Many people in Poland choose to take out private health insurance, which can offer quicker access to specialists and a wider range of services. There are many private insurance companies to choose from, so it’s worth shopping around to find the best deal for you.

Another option is to pay for healthcare services out-of-pocket. While this can be expensive, it can also offer the quickest access to care. Many private healthcare providers in Poland offer high-quality care, and some even have English-speaking staff.

Whether you choose to use the NFZ, private insurance, or out-of-pocket payment, it’s important to ensure that you have access to healthcare while living in Poland. This will give you peace of mind and ensure that you can get the care you need when you need it.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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