Health and social insurance in Poland – a Guide for Expats

Relocating to a different country inveitably involves challenges, with one of the most crucial being the need to understand th health and social security systems. Below is a detailed guide to health and social security in Poland to help you understand how to get health insurance, what your options are as an Expat in Poland and how the healthcare system works here.

How do I get health insurance?

Registration with ZUS (Social Insurance Institution):

  • Employees: If you are employed in Poland, your employer is obliged to register you with the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) and pay health and social security contributions. These contributions are automatically deducted from your salary.
  • Self-employed persons: If you are self-employed, you must register yourself with ZUS and pay your contributions regularly.


  • Students from EU/EFTA countries: They can use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles them to public healthcare on the same basis as Polish citizens.
  • Non-EU/EFTA students: They must take out private health insurance or register with the National Health Fund (NFZ) and pay premiums.


  • If you are registered as unemployed at the labour office, you can obtain health insurance through the labour office.

Insurance options for Expats

Public health insurance (NFZ):

  • This is the primary option for those legally residing and working in Poland. Premiums are compulsory and paid by the employer or independently by self-employed persons.
  • It entitles you to use public medical facilities, visits to general practitioners and specialists, as well as hospitalisation.

Private health insurance:

  • This is a popular option among Expats who want to avoid long queues at public facilities and value a higher standard of care, which at the same time involves paid health care.
  • Private health insurance can be purchased from a variety of insurance companies.
  • Policies can cover a wide range of services, from primary care to specialised treatment and hospitalisation.

Health care system in Poland

Structure of the system:

  • The Polish healthcare system is mainly financed by public health contributions. The National Health Fund (NFZ) manages the funds and contracts services with public and private medical facilities.
  • There are both public and private health facilities. Public ones are usually funded by the National Health Fund, while private ones operate on a commercial basis.

Primary care:

  • Every insured person has the right to choose a general practitioner (family doctor), who is the first point of contact for health problems.
  • The GP can make referrals to specialists if necessary.

Specialist and hospital care:

  • GP referrals are required to access specialist care and hospitalisation within the public system
  • Private insurance often offers direct access to specialists without the need for a referral.

Emergency medical care:

  • Emergency services can be used in the event of an emergency. The emergency number is 112, which is available throughout the European Union.

Medicines and pharmacies:

  • Prescriptions issued by doctors are filled in pharmacies. Some medicines are reimbursed by the National Health Service, which means lower costs for the patient.

Obtaining health insurance in Poland is mandatory and relatively simple if you are employed or self-employed. The healthcare system offers a variety of both public and private options, giving you the flexibility to choose the right level of care.

As an Expat, it is worth considering taking out private health insurance so that you have easier and quicker access to specialist medical care and, for more serious accidents and illnesses, have the protection of a public health fund.

At Harveo we have as many as 7 top insurance companies. We offer a consultation with our experts, which is of course free of charge. This will enable you to learn about and compare all the current options for extending your private insurance to make an informed choice based on statements and data.