Health insurance and care

Living in Europe | Health insurance, Medical care | Poland

Stomatology, Medical University of Lodz, author: Promotion Department

The healthcare system in Poland is based on the principles of equal treatment and access to medical services. It relies on a number of general rules which are applicable unless a specific legislation or international agreement provides otherwise.

The main institution responsible for the management of public funds for healthcare, and the pillar of the entire health insurance system, is the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia, NFZ).

The national health policy is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.


Foreign researchers and their families visitting and living in Poland can access the Polish state-funded 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.



Medical Biology Centre, Poznan University of Medical Sciences

In Poland a medical doctor providing primary health care (general practitioner, GP) is commonly called “a first-contact doctor” or a "family doctor". This is because you need to obtain a referral from your general practitioner in order to have access to more specialised medical services, e.g. to neurologists, eye specialists, to hospital treatment or medical rehabilitation.

The referral is not required in the event of emergency or for services provided by the following medical doctors: oncologist, gynecologist, psychiatrist, venereologist and dentist, which means that you can register for the visit whenever necessary.

In order to visit your family doctor, you first need to register at one of the out-patient clinics, preferably near the place of your stay. You should present your identity card or passport and a proof of insurance (e.g. a document called RMUA received from your employer or doctoral school).

When you are registered, you can sign up for an appointment with a doctor or visit him/her straight away, if he/she is not occupied.



Centre for Medical Simulation, Poznan University of Medical Sciences


A range of free dental services provided to an insured person is limited. Children and young people of up to 18 years of age and pregnant women are covered by better arrangements. Moreover, you should remember that only basic dental materials are financed by public funds, and thus you need to pay for any more advanced products used in treatment. As a result, many Poles choose private dental services.



Pharmacy Training, Pharmacy Department of the Medical University of Warsaw, author: Dział Fotomedyczny WUM


Medicines are available only in pharmacies, except for some painkillers. Some medicines can be obtained only on the basis of a prescription given by an authorised medical doctor. Most of precrptions are given in an electronic format (via text message - SMS with code or via an e-mail in pdf file). You can always ask the doctor for a printed version, if it is more convinient for you.

Note that most prescriptions are valid for 30 days.

The rates charged for medicines vary as some of them are reimbursed from public funds. In the case of reimbursed medicines, patients pay a flat-rate amount or only a specific portion of the price.

Some pharmacies are open 24 hours and during the night can charge an additional fee for selling medicines.


Source: Pixabay


In Poland the national vaccination programme includes the following obligatory vaccines free of charge:



Vaccine against

within 24 hours after birth

tuberculosis, hepatitis B

month 2

hepatitis B, diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis, hib, pneumococci

month 3-4

diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis, polio IPV, hib, pneumococci

month 5-6

diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis, hib, polio IPV

month 7

hepatitis B

month 13-14

pneumococci, measles/mumps/rubella

month 16-18

diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis, hib, polio IPV

year 6

diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DTaP), polio IPV

year 14

diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (dTap)

year 19

diphtheria/tetanus (dT)



Apart from the above mandatory vaccinations, there are recommended vaccines that are paid:

  • rotavirus infection - babies between month 2 and 6
  • meningococcal disease - children between month 2 and 18 years old;
  • human papillomavirus infection (HPV) - girsl after 12 years of age;
  • varicella - after month 13;
  • influenza - recommended for everyone (after month 6) before and during the flu season (autumn/winter) and especially for children (between month 6 until year 18) and adults after 65 years of age (for these 2 groups the vaccine may be free-of-charge), as well for high-risk groups e.g. people with weakened immune system or pregnant women;
  • tick-borne encephalitis - after month 13;
  • hepatitis A - after month 13.

In order to receive the additional vaccines you need to talk to your doctor in advance.

More about vaccination in Poland

See vaccination schedules in all EU countries


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.

More about EHIC


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

See also:

Pregnancy and Family