880 million Polish zlotys, or 12 percent more than a year ago – According to the latest data from the Polish Chamber of Insurance (PIU), we spent on private health insurance in the first nine months of this year. During this time, the number of people covered by this insurance increased by 10.6 percent. It amounted to 4.08 million.
Why these increases? The chamber representing the interests of insurers indicates, on the one hand, that there is a growing need to supplement the overall system with additional healthcare-enhancing solutions. On the other hand, private policies cover an increasingly wide range of services. Therefore, in addition to basic outpatient health care, they also include access to comprehensive screening and prevention.
We spend more than PLN 30 billion annually on health services outside the public system, not counting medicines and pharmaceuticals. This year, we will spend more than 1 billion PLN on private health insurance. Spending on health insurance compared to how much we spend specifically on health is minuscule. Efforts should be made to turn that ratio around, says Dorota M. Fall, advisor to the PIU Board of Directors.
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According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (GUS) Total spending on health care (including the National Health Fund, budget and private portfolios) In 2021 it amounted to PLN 172.9 billion It accounted for 6.6 percent. Gross domestic product. This is about PLN 21 billion more than the previous year. Expenditure increases were observed in both public and private spending.
According to the announcement of the National Health Fund (last year it amounted to PLN 122 billion), expenditures will continue to grow. However, this will not translate into a greater number of benefits or an improvement in the health of Poles, as it is also growing Medical inflation – exceeded 20 percent. According to insurance companies, the cure for health debt is private insurance.
Considering the relatively small spending on the public health care system, it saves quite a lot. There is no doubt that this spending is manifestly inadequate, given how much money we spend on health is outside the system and how huge our health debt is. The PIU expert believes that out-of-pocket expenses have always been needed and will increase.
It is important – our interlocutor emphasizes – that the money is spent effectively. Furthermore, according to Dorota M. Val, health care must stand on two legs: public and private. However, it is not.
– For many years we have not been able to combine these two systems on a functional level – For example, we cannot go to a public hospital and pay with private insurance. This may need to be combined on a financial level – For example by offering exemptions to employers who finance private insurance for employees – suggests our interlocutor.
This is the case in many countries, including Spain or Romania. According to her, such solutions will improve the health of employees in Poland. In addition, private insurance provides, according to the PIU expert, protective measures that are clearly weak in the public system.
A health crisis is on the horizon
It’s never so bad that it couldn’t be worse. According to the insurance companies The health system will not be cured by the law allowing funding for some services to be transferred from the state budget to the National Health Fund. This includes eg for highly specialized procedures, medical rescue or medicines for pregnant women and people over 75 years of age. The National Health Fund budget is also linked to GDP, the growth of which, according to NBP forecasts, will decrease to 0.7% in 2023.
Dorota M says: An ineffective public health care system, lack of support for additional insurance, growing health debt, as well as inflation, waves of refugees and many other recent disasters are a recipe for a health crisis in society.
According to the expert The situation is further complicated by a shortage of medical staff, professional burnout and post-pandemic stress syndrome Increasingly common in this professional group.
Public funds are not enough to reform the system. Therefore, it is no coincidence that health insurance is becoming more popular, although it is not yet included in the Polish health care system, says the PIU expert.
The snag is that private health care leaves a lot to be desired. As we reported on money.pl at the end of July this year, the availability of services as part of special medical packages is … fiction. The behind-the-scenes details of the dates we’ve been able to find disturbing. Patients without a subscription can access doctors and tests easier than those with a package.
Health is the most important
Our health has always been a source of fear in us. This is confirmed by the results of PIU research. In this year’s edition of Risk Maps for Poles, fear of disease and loss of health ranked first among the biggest fears. Furthermore it Seven out of ten respondents today fear a lack of medical care, and 79 percent. Respondents fear cancer.
The concerns are valid. In Poland, the death rate is increasing due to diseases of civilization: cardiovascular diseases, malignant tumors, and diabetes. And according to the Central Statistical Office, they are the most common cause of death in the country (65%). Another challenge is the growing obesity problem in society. Data from the National Health Fund and the Central Bureau of Statistics show that about 60 percent. Poles are overweight, and 25 per cent. obesity.
The mental state of Poles, which has been greatly affected by the pandemic, is also of concern. Almost 40 percent of Poles admit that their mental health deteriorated during the war. Recent years have also seen an increase in unmet medical research needs. According to the analysis of PZUW (mutual insurance TUW PZUW), in 2019 this proportion was 4.2%, and in the spring of 2022 it reached 30%.
Karolina Wisota, money.pl journalist
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