This analysis of the Polish health system reviews recent developments in organization and governance, health financing, health care provision, health reforms and health system performance. In late 2017, the Polish government committed to increase the share of public expenditures on health to 6% of GDP by 2024. If the GDP continues to grow in the years to come, this will present an opportunity to tackle mounting health challenges such as socioeconomic inequalities in health, high rates of obesity, rising burden of mental disorders and population ageing that put strain on health care resources. It is also an opportunity to tackle certain longstanding imbalances in the health sector, including overreliance on acute hospital care compared with other types of care, including ambulatory care and long-term care; shortages of human resources; the negligible role of health promotion and disease prevention vis-à-vis curative care; and poor financial situation in the hospital sector.
Finally, the additional resources are much needed to implement important ongoing reforms, including the reform of primary care. The resources have to be spent wisely and waste should be minimized. The introduction, in 2016, of a special system (IOWISZ) of assessing investments in the health sector that require public financing (including from the EU funds) as well as the work undertaken by the Polish health technology assessment (HTA) agency (AOTMiT), which evaluates health technologies and publicly-financed health policy programmes as well as sets prices of goods and services, should help ensure that these goals are achieved. Recent reforms, such as the ongoing reform of primary care that seeks to improve coordination of care and the introduction of the hospital network, go in the right direction; however, a number of longstanding unresolved problems, such as hospital indebtedness, need to be tackled.