Unfortunately, after looking through the statistics for particular countries, which are available at OECD page, I noticed that my country – Poland – is in the very end in almost all of the “health categories”.
The total health expenditure in Poland in 2010 amounted to 7% of GDP, while the average spending of OECD countries was more than 2 percentage points higher. Comparing to other European countries like e.g. Netherlands (12%), France or Germany (both 11,6%), the situation of Poland in this field seems to be really alarming. What comes to the total health spending per capita, Poland is also below the OECD average (which accounted for 3268 USD), having spent 1389 USD per capita in 2010 – which is less than the half of OECD average and about one fourth of Norway’s spending per capita. In my opinion, even relying on those two indicators, we can make some conclusions regarding the poor situation of Health Care in Poland. Although the health expenditure in Poland increased by 7% within 2000-2009, this rate was slowed down by the crisis to 0.6% in 2010.
Moreover, low health spending were accompanied by low number of physicians and nurses – in 2010 there were 2.2 physicians and 5.3 nurses for 1000 people, whereas the OECD average amounted to accordingly: 3.1 physicians and 8.7 nurses.
Who suffers most because of such a situation are the polish patients. There is even a kind of dictum in Poland, which is “Polish Health Care – death faster than a diagnosis”, which is sometimes unfortunately true. My friend had lately an “interesting” situation – she went to the doctor who sent her to certain examination, for which she had to wait in a special queue for 3 months (such a long time of waiting is normal in Poland in case of some kinds of check-ups) and straight after that she went with the result to the doctor, who told her that the needed an urgent surgery, however, if she came to him 2 months ago, everything would be all right. That is a paradox of Polish Health Care System. I really do not understand this because it is obvious that the savings which are tried to be made are only illusory, because non-treating the patient on time means in longer time higher expenditures, being a result of deepening illness.
In my opinion, if anything was done with that in a short time, the problems could only escalate. I only wonder how long people would stand the fact, that although they pay a lot of money for a public health care system, they do not receive proper treatment.
1. Health at a Glance 2011, OECD Indicators, p. 149 -200, http://www.oecd.org/health/healthpoliciesanddata/49105858.pdf
2. OECD Health Data 2012: How Does Poland Compare, June 2012, http://www.oecd.org/poland/BriefingNotePOLAND2012.pdf