AT THE END OF Q3 2021, POLES SPENT OVER PLN 760 MILLION ON PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE. THIS IS BY NEARLY 15 PER CENT MORE THAN A YEAR EARLIER, ACCORDING TO DATA FROM THE POLISH CHAMBER OF INSURANCE. NEARLY 3.7 MILLION POLES HAD PURCHASED HEALTH INSURANCE POLICIES, A YEAR-ON-YEAR INCREASE OF 17 PER CENT. BASIC MEDICAL PACKAGES IN PARTICULAR HAVE GAINED IN POPULARITY.
RISING HEALTH DEBT INCREASES INTEREST IN PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
The packages that are most popular among Poles are those that include access to basic healthcare and several specialists. The main criterion for choosing such policies is their attractive price, as well as the ease of making an appointment with a general practitioner and fast diagnostics. More and more people outside the big cities are covered by supplementary insurance. The number of group policies is also increasing. At the same time, the number of benefits provided under private health insurance is increasing, which is evidence of the deepening health debt in Poland.
“There are two main trends in the health insurance market today. The first is an increase in interest in policies in response to the growing health debt. In the autumn, the number of sick people increased, not only because of the coronavirus, but also because of isolation and the resulting lack of natural immunity. Poles were then most likely to visit internists and paediatricians. In addition, we are seeing a deteriorating health status of the population as a whole, resulting in a greater need for specialists and examinations. The second noticeable trend is inflation, which is not bypassing health services,” concludes Dorota M. Fal, advisor to the management board of the Polish Chamber of Insurance.
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE – THE CHALLENGES OF THE “FOURTH WAVE”
The next wave of the pandemic brings with it a renewed increase in hospitalisations, deaths and a general deterioration in the health of Poles. The medical industry is once again going into “covid mode”, for which patients struggling with various illnesses must also be prepared. One solution, guaranteeing access to qualified specialists and therapies in the first place, could be hospital insurance. According to the report “Map of the risks of Poles”, the fear of not having enough money for specialist treatment of a serious illness is the second biggest fear we have. This is confirmed by as many as 80 per cent of those surveyed.
“We are seeing the emergence of complementary insurance offerings that finance hard-to-reach services, not only during a pandemic crisis. These include, for example, expensive, unreimbursed therapies. We are still waiting for hospital insurance with comprehensive coverage, while our main need today is access to a GP and specialist medical care. Depending on developments, new types of insurance may also gain in popularity,” adds Dorota M. Fal.
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE – WORRYING STATISTICS
According to a survey conducted in October 2021 by the Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS), as many as 2 in 3 respondents are dissatisfied with the functioning of healthcare in Poland, and only 29 per cent rate it positively. In addition, by far the largest number of respondents believe that it is difficult to get to a specialist under the National Health Fund and that hospitals are understaffed. The problem of staff shortages is also noted by the European Commission, which, in a report prepared together with the OECD, points out that the Polish public healthcare system is struggling with a shortage of medical staff, the availability of specialist doctors and the high costs incurred by patients receiving private treatment. Among the most positive findings related to the situation in the medical sector is the dynamic development of telemedicine.