POLAND: 2.6 million Poles chose private health insurance in 2018

By the end of 2018, there were 2.6 million Poles, who purchased private health insurance, a number exceeding 2.5 million for the first time in history, Polish Insurance Association (PIU) reports.

2018 preliminary figures for Polish insurance market show that the non-life accident segment grew by 0.26% in GWP terms, while non-life insurance for sickness increased by almost 30% in GWP last year. While health insurance specific to the non-life sector held about a 4% share in total market GWP, health insurance in the life sector reached almost 10% weight in total market GWP.

PIU says that interest in private health insurance will continue to grow in the future and the main reasons Poles choose a private health insurance plan in the first place is the faster access to a doctor and the better conditions offered by private hospitals compared to public health facilities (which have previously received media attention for irregularities). Also, a majority of big companies operating in Poland offer their employees private health insurance, private hospital subscriptions or coupons for medical care as a benefit, and this trend will continue to arise.

In September 2018, PIU conducted a study under the name "Financing the Healthcare of Employees" (original title: "Finansowanie opieki zdrowotnej pracownikow"), and found valuable information about Polish views of the healthcare system and private health insurance products. Here are a few of the study results:

  • Despite the favorable situation in the labor market, Poles leave their professional activity early. The effective retirement age in Poland is around 61 years, compared to the OECD average of 64+ years. About 31% of study participants said they will retire because of poor health conditions due to aging.
  • According to data from the National Health Account, private spending on healthcare in 2015 amounted to over PLN 34 billion, or 1.9% of GDP. In 2017, this spending increased, reaching PLN 49 billion.
  • In 2015, 30% of medical expenditure was sustained by private funds. OECD estimates that in some CEE countries, like Poland, Czechia and Hungary, people pay more than half the cost of medications from their own pocket.
  • Over 68% of respondents are dissatisfied with public healthcare, while 61% said they have purchased a private health care plan in addition to the public one. More than 36% of those who answered said they pay less than PLN 100 for benefits.
  • It is estimated that an increase of 10% in life expectancy will lead to an increase of 0.3 percentage points in GDP. Forecasts say that Polish women born in 2017 will on average live to the age of 81.8 (6.6 years more than current life expectancy) while Polish men will live up to 74 years on average (7.8 years more).

The PIU study, accompanied by methodology and sources, can be found here (Polish only):

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