On Wednesday, August 27 the second reading of the draft amendments to the law on cross-border healthcare took place. – Poland is almost a year late with its implementation – reminds Vice President of Employers of Poland, Andrzej Mądrala.
The main objective of cross-border directive is a first step towards opening the health services market within the European community. More numerous lawsuits against the National Health Fund filed by patients who demand reimbursement of medical expenses abroad are likely to be the spur to implement it.
Undoubtedly, this directive is both a great opportunity and a threat to Polish hospitals. On the one hand - based on EU calculations - we can expect quite a large number of additional "commercial" foreign patients - which can bring Polish health care system tens of millions of zlotys. On the other hand we must assume that some of our patients will choose treatment outside the country, which means outflow of money from our country.
Since the beginning of the negotiations of the Directive the Polish government considered that it is primarily a threat to the budget and did not try to take advantage of its benefits. Yet Poland - with a relatively lower costs of treatment, and great potential, as well as staff that is renowned and respected in Europe - has a chance to become the biggest beneficiary of medical tourism. It is necessary to create a national contact point, which would collect offers from hospitals and present them to patients from the European Union. The institution should also analyze how the directive has been implemented in other countries and give Polish hospitals information on it in order to facilitate networking.
Given the fact that the Ministry of Economy has placed health care among priority areas of the economy that require promotion, we need a plan for promoting Polish medicine and create a well-functioning national contact point. For now the function is performed by one person - Iwona Grabowska from the National Helth Fund (NFZ) – as sated on DG SANCO web page. I am sure that this investment will pay off quickly and patients will benefit from that.
Andrzej Mądrala, Vice President of Employers of Poland