Poland is the largest country in CEE region. It borders Germany to the west, Czech and Slovakia to the south and Belarus and Ukraine to the east and Baltic Sea and part of Russia (Kaliningrad region) to the north. Poland has been a member of the European union since 2004 and is classified by the World Bank as a relatively high-income economy. Poland is a democratic republic with legislative power represented by a Parliament. The official language is Polish and Catholic is a national religion.

Healthcare budget

$29.2 billion


38.4 million

GDP per capita



PLN (1 PLN = 0,22 euro)

World Ranking

GDP 22nd

Statistics as April 21st 2021

Polish healthcare

Poland is a parliamentary republic with the legislative power represented by Parliament. Poland is an EU member since 2004. Official language being Polish.

Health care in Poland is based on a system of universal health insurance. The National Health Insurance Fund (NHF) has been the sole purchaser in the system through its 16 district branches.

Despite support from European funds, health spending remains comparatively low. The share of GDP that Poland devotes to healthcare is 6.5% which is significantly lower than the EU average (9.8%). Per person, healthcare expenditure amounts to EUR 1 507 (adjusted for differences in purchasing power), the sixth lowest in the EU. Most health expenditure is funded from health insurance contributions via an earmarked payroll tax.

Polish pharmaceutical environment

Despite the systematical increase, the number of medicines reimbursed from public funds in Poland is among the lowest in the EU. Access to medicines, especially new, innovative therapies, is determined by the level of funding.

The main reimbursement instruments are as follows.

  • 64% reimbursement through pharmacies (therapies addressed to large patient populations, mainly generic)

  • 26% drug programs (highly specialized therapies generally used for inpatient care, addressed to the smaller patient populations)

  • 5% chemotherapy (products used for inpatient care in oncology, generally having equivalents).

In recent years Poland has introduced new exemption mechanisms, e.g., since 2016 granting free access to a broad range of medicines for older people to protect these vulnerable populations from high out of pocket spending on medicines.

Todays challenges

The Polish healthcare system is affected by large imbalances in the provision of services, with too much infrastructure in the hospital sector, insufficient provision of outpatient and long-term care (including poor access to diagnostics), combined with weak coordination between inpatient and outpatient care.

The overall strategic planning of the health workforce is still not well developed, leading to shortages of healthcare professionals and difficulties accessing care services. Healthcare workforce shortages have become even more acute since Poland’s accession to the EU in 2004, which has facilitated a large outflow of healthcare professionals from the country. The number of doctors per 1 000 population is 2.4 which is the lowest among all the countries in the EU.

The healthcare system in Poland is an area for effective reform to address these challenges. Current reform priorities include improving the coordination of care, rationalizing hospital care and strengthening the provision of ambulatory care.

The expert in Poland

Jiri Hermanek

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