Health insurance and care
Foreign researchers and their families visitting and living in Poland can access the Polish healthcare services:
- as employees when healthcare contributions are paid by the employer,
- as doctoral students with the health insurance covered by the university/institute,
- having a voluntary insurance in NFZ or from a private insurance provider,
- during temporary stays/visits based on the European Health Insurance Card,
- registering the S1 document issued by another EU country (e.g. posted workers, family members),
- when insured as family members of employees in Poland.
In Poland having health insurance is obligatory. When applying for a visa to Poland and legalising your stay in Poland, you always need to present an insurance coverage document.
Persons insured in the National Health Fund (NFZ) can use state-funded healthcare services mostly free-of-charge, with some exceptions for example in case of dentistry services.
Insurance of employees
As a general rule, persons working in Poland on the basis of an employment contract (pl. umowa o pracę) and free-for-task contract (pl. umowa zlecenia), regardless of their nationality, are subject to compulsory health insurance. This means that the monthly insurance contributions are paid by the employer in the rate of 9% of the salary basis, subtracted each month.
In case of persons having a specific-task contract (pl. umowa o dzieło) the employer is not obliged to cover their insurance so they have to buy their insurance individually either in NFZ or in a private insurance company (more information below). The same situation applies to certain research fellowships.
Insurance of doctoral students
PhD candidates are insured by their university or other higher education institution unless they are insured on another basis, for instance as employees or family members. The insurance coverage starts from the day of first term and ends with the last day of the doctoral education.
Insurance of family members
In Poland, an insured employee has an obligation to report his/her family members to be covered by the health insurance under their employment contract, provided that the family member is not insured on a different basis. The family members are children and spouses, as well as parents and grandparents on condition that they live in a common household with the employee. In order to register your family members, you need to give their personal data to your employer. If you change employers, you have to report your family members to the new employer. Adding family members does not result in paying additional or higher contributions.
In case you are not covered by the compulsory health insurance, you have to sign an individual insurance agreement either with the National Health Fund or with a private insurance company/medical service provider. It should be stressed though that the NFZ option is the most beneficial as it covers all state-funded medical services and any related hospital treatment.
However, only certain groups of foreigners can sign the voluntary NFZ agreement and these are among others:
- European Union, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland nationals,
- third country nationals who have: visa for the purpose of work (D-6 visa), temporary residence permit, permanent residence permit, EU long-term residence permit,
- students and doctoral candidates.
This means that foreigners who have a visa for the purpose of conducting scientific research (D-13) cannot sign the voluntary NFZ agreement so they have to buy insurance at a private insurance provider.
In case of NFZ the payment (for last quarter of 2020) amounts to PLN 483 monthly. The rate may change each quarter as it is related to the average salary in Poland.
Students and doctoral students pay a lower amount of PLN 55.80 monthly. The contributions should be paid up to 15th day each month to a given bank account.
Note: If you were insured in Poland or in another EU/EFTA country before, you also need to show a document confirming the last period of insurance. In case there was a gap between your insurance periods of at least 3 months, you will have to pay an additional fee (students, incl. doctoral students, are exempted from the fee) whose amount depends on the length of this gap period.
Evidence of insurance, which can be useful in some circumstances (e.g. when visitting a doctor), is a copy of the signed agreement between you and the NFZ together with the proof of payment of the last month’s contribution.
Private insurance providers
Numerous private insurance companies or medical centres offer various customised policies. You need to know that private insurance policies do not provide the same general and equal access to medical services as the public NFZ scheme.
The scope of the private services and the resulting payments depend on the policy you buy and on the contract you sign. The cheapest options only include basic services, for instance visits at general practitioners' or certain specialist doctors. More advanced services, e.g. more complicated dentistry treatment, giving birth, operations or hospitalisation, are of course more expensive.
Also note that private policies often set delay periods meaning that you cannot benefit from certain services, usually the most expensive ones, before a certain period of time passes, e.g. you only can use rehabilitation or small surgery treatment after 60 or 120 days of paying the insurance contributions.
Some emloyers in Poland do offer private healthcare package to their employees in addition to the public coverage. Sometimes also individual citizens decide to buy the private insurance in order to have faster access to medical services.
the above-mentioned documents, you will be required to pay for the medical services. However, if you later prove your health insurance, your expenses will be reimbursed.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you access to necessary medical services for free when you travel temporarily in the European Union as well as to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the UK (until the end of 2020 due to Brexit) for tourist or work purpose.
It works both ways meaning that anyone covered in Poland by the state-funded NFZ insurance can obtain such a card - for free in the NFZ office competent for the place of residence.
It is important to know, however, that based on EHIC one can use the medical services on the same conditions as residents of a given country. This means that if a certain service is free-of-charge in Poland it may not be so abroad.
When you move your habitual residence to another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland or the UK (before end of 2020) you should obtain a S1 document instead of using the EHIC to receive medical care in the new country of residence. S1 entitles you to healthcare if you don't live in the country where you are insured. It may be useful for posted workers, cross-border workers, pensioners and their family members.
In order to obtain the S1 document in Poland, you need to apply to NFZ.
The document should be registered in health insurance institution in the country of the new habitual residence.
Useful links - Brexit:
Polish National Health Fund: Information on Brexit and healhcare services after 2020
UK Government: Healthcare for UK nationals in Poland