Communist Era Beliefs Are Constraining Privatisation Of Health In Poland

Brisbane, Australia – Research by the Chief Executive Officer of the Wesley Research Institute, Professor Christian Gericke, and a team of Polish academics led by Dr. Krzysztof Kaczmarek has found that while privatised health services are perceived in Poland to be of a higher standard than state-run services, strong public opposition based on entrenched communist-era beliefs of health as a non-profit making public service are constraining privatisation of health.

In a Value in Health Regional Issues 2013 paper entitled “The Process of Privatisation of Health Care Provision in Poland,” the researchers report that since the dissolution of state socialism, private financing of health care services has increased substantially, filling an important role in meeting rising consumer demand in some areas of health care and encouraging a more efficient use of scarce resources through competition and private initiative for public health services. A free health care market does not exist in Poland, however, nor is such a market planned.

The pharmaceutical industry is now fully privatised, and dental and ambulatory (outpatient) services are more than 70% privatised.

The role of private hospitals in Poland remains comparatively limited, however, despite the increase in the number of private hospitals; only 22.7% of hospitals are private and 5.8% of hospital beds are private. The main reasons for the slower development of the private sector in in-patient care versus other areas of health care are the higher financial risk and investment required, widespread political beliefs opposing the privatisation of hospitals, and complicated and unclear legal regulations. This lack of regulatory clarity has resulted in a grey area between public and private health care where informal payments impede the intended function of the system. In a survey of corruption in 2007, 9% of respondents declared that they had made informal payments in the last year, 52% of which were in health care.

Prof. Christian Gericke, MD, PhD from the Wesley Research Institute and the University of Queensland School of Population Health concludes that: “If the present situation is left unchanged, the official public health care sector in Poland is likely to become an increasingly residual service for the worst-off, who are unable to afford the legal private sector, or the informal payments which guarantee a higher quality service in the public sector.” The full study, “The Process of Privatisation of Health Care Provision in Poland,” is published in Value in Health Regional Issues.

Value in Health Regional Issues  (ISSN 2212-1099) is a scientific journal that encourages and enhances the science of pharmacoeconomic/health economic and health outcomes research and its use in health care decisions. The journal is published up to three times a year with one issue focusing on the Asia region, one issue focusing on the Latin America region, and one issue focusing on the Central & Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Africa regions.

The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

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