Poland at a Glance
Living in PolandFotolia
Are you ready for that Eastern fervor? Life in Poland is significantly shaped by its people.
Living in Poland has not always been a picnic. After all, the country looks back on a long line of invasions from neighboring countries. Today, however, life in Poland is very pleasant, with people who are nothing but gregarious and welcoming.
Living in Poland: Culture and People
The majority of all people living in Poland (about 60%) have settled in the country’s urban areas. There are quite a few bigger towns in Poland, with life in Poland focusing on five of them which qualify as major cities. Warsaw, the country’s capital, alone has about 1.7 million inhabitants. Most people living in Poland are of a Polish descent. In fact, there is only a small minority of Germans, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Lithuanians, and Belorussians.
The country’s many traditions and local customs emerged from Latin and Byzantine influences and were strongly shaped by various European occupiers. As mentioned above, life in Poland is majorly influenced by the geniality of the Polish people: the culture is a rather welcoming one. Even if you do not speak the language fluently yet, you will probably be quickly included and find new friends during your life in Poland.
Life in Poland: Healthcare
In 1989, Poland saw a number of reforms with the purpose of reviving the healthcare system of the country. The life expectancy increased by four years, hospitals were restructured, and primary healthcare improved greatly in quality and availability. In the late 1990s, additional reforms were introduced to remove prevalent negative aspects of Poland’s healthcare system. Thus, the general health insurance act came into force in 1999, followed by the National Health Fund in 2003.The majority of people living in Poland receives basic healthcare under the National Health Fund. Expats living in Poland may also choose private healthcare, in order to avoid long waits.
Living in Poland: The National Health Fund
Unfortunately, the measures introduced in 1999 were not sufficient in providing everybody living in Poland with healthcare services. Thus, the National Health Fund was introduced in 2003, which is run by the Ministry of Health. The state healthcare system is supported by government contributions as well as compulsory individual contributions. The amount of these individual contributions depends on the status and income of each person.
The employer is obligated to register all foreign employees living in Poland with the health insurance fund at the beginning of their employment. You should be prepared to pay about 8.5% of your salary to the National Health Fund. The sum is deducted directly from your monthly salary. If you do not have a job yet but are getting ready for life in Poland, you need to prove that you have health insurance when applying for a residence permit. The health fund covers basic medical services, including treatment by specialists and emergency care.
Life in Poland: Medical Facilities and Services
Doctors and nurses living in Poland are generally well-trained, offering top-notch medical services. However, you should keep in mind that in remote areas, healthcare facilities may not always be widely available or well equipped. This is also where emergency services are often lacking. While younger doctors and nurses may speak English, especially in bigger cities like Warsaw, older staff may not do so. It is thus advisable to pick up some Polish before your move. If you suffer from any chronic diseases, try to look up the words to describe your disease and the medication you might need well in advance.
You are usually expected to pay in cash for your medical treatment. You can later submit the receipts to your health insurance for reimbursement. Anyway, under the table payments to doctors are also often made in order to speed up the process and ensure quick treatment. This is often necessary because there is a lower number of doctors and nurses living in Poland than in many other countries, making for long waiting times.