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Additional health insurance would strengthen public system


A press conference was held on 26 November together with an experts' debate on "Additional health insurance 2013". Additional health insurance would strengthen the public healthcare system, said experts, one of whom was Dr hab. Marcin Matczak, Head of the Life Sciences Practice at the DZP law firm. According to the specialists, a public debate is needed to work out the best form for the insurance.

During the press conference, national consultant on public health Prof. Bolesław Samoliński stressed that demographic changes and an aging population meant that sources would have to be found to strengthen healthcare system financing. According to Prof. Samolinski, one solution would be to introduce additional health insurance. As he said, it would mean that a patient becomes attractive for healthcare providers and this in turn would lead to an increase in the quality of healthcare services. In Prof. Samoliński's opinion, an additional health insurance system would reduce queues for financed services only in the NFH, as patients who are treated within additional insurance would exit this system.

Marcin Matczak then said that although discussions on additional health insurance in Poland have been underway for a long time, to date no statutory solution has been worked out. "This is due to fears that additional health insurance would overturn the principle of equal access to healthcare, that society would be split into those who can afford it and those who can't," he said.

"What we need is a public discussion on the shape of additional insurance as its introduction is necessary given the growing number of older persons whose treatment is very costly," remarked the director of the Polish branch of the analytical firm IMS Health, Michał Pilkiewicz. In his opinion, the system is ready to accept more patients but it does not do so due to NHF financing limits.

Former health minister Marek Balicki assessed, however, that building an additional health insurance system would not repair the efficiency of the public healthcare system and would only supplement it. He said that Poles currently spend approx. PLN 2-3 billion on medical subscriptions but queues are also growing there too. According to Mr Balicki, when legal regulations on additional insurance are created, special attention should be paid to guaranteeing equal access to patients regardless of the type of insurance they have.

The editor-in-chief of the magazine "Świat Lekarzy", Dr Waldemar Wierzba, said that medical environment supported the introduction of additional insurance though he had numerous doubts arising primarily from lack of knowledge of the subject. According to Dr Wierzba, if additional insurance is to support and supplement the public system it must be for the masses. And if it is for the masses, then it should be attractive for clients, i.e. cheap and ensuring speedy access to better quality care.

During the conference, a report was also presented on additional health insurance containing expert opinions. It also included definitions of the various types of additional insurance, e.g. supplementing or duplicating services from the basket of guaranteed services, and a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of the different forms. The document also contains recommendations, one of which was the need to develop broad public access to this type of insurance and to run a wide-ranging educational and information campaign. 

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