Which would you prefer? 1. Paying for public health care, being fully covered, but waiting in long queues when you need to use it? 2. Choosing your own private health care plan, getting good service, and paying only once, albeit at a higher rate but possibly not being fully covered? Hard to say, really. Let’s take a closer look.
Health insurance is a private industry in America and that means you can choose your plan and basically pay more or less depending on what you need. A couple I know pays upwards of $600 a month for their plan in the U.S. In Poland, health care is public and costs per month are about 290 zl ($76) for individuals, which is actually a lot if you’re a Pole earning the average wage. And, in fact, you often have to pay out-of-pocket for a private doctor anyway. That means you have to pay twice. Funny how that works. You’ll often hear people calling public health care “free”, which is silly. Of course you pay, just not individually for each visit or procedure. One great thing about public health care, though, is that you won’t die on the street if you can’t pay for treatment and don’t have insurance. Or start a Gofundme page to pay your medical bills like some Americans have to do. That’s great. The question is though, how long will you have to wait for said treatment in Poland and at what standard will it be?
I recently had a friend in the hospital and when I visited him I was kind of appalled by the conditions. I think I’d actually get sicker in a place like that. He had to bring his own spoon to eat the soup. They loaned him one the first day. Thanks a lot.. And the TV costs 2 zł for 1 hour. Although I think the conditions really just depend on the hospital you’re in. I’ve personally had good experiences with doctors and hospitals in Poland, so I can’t complain too much about it. Other than the fact that I have to go private for everything except GP visits, it’s not a big issue when you really need something important done. Both times I was in the hospital I didn’t even have to fill out paperwork. I just went, got some treatment, and went home after a few hours. It was so simple and easy and I’m really grateful for that. I know it’s not that easy in the States. There you never know what will be covered by your insurance so in that case it’s a little scary. You could end up having to pay for some procedure out-of-pocket because your insurance just won’t cover it – it’s private so they can essentially do whatever they want. Here’s a fascinating video about a guy who tried to find out how much his baby’s birth was going to cost. It’s a good representation of our health care system.
Another cool thing about the health care system here is that even when you do pay out-of-pocket the price is relatively low. For example, in America if you’d like your hip replaced, it’s about $30,000 on average (although it depends on which state you’re in, weirdly. Could be much more or much less). In Poland, my husband’s grandmother had hers done for 12,000 zł. Kind of a big difference, hm? It’s the same with dental care as well. Prices are dramatically cheaper here. They should start advertising trips to Poland with medical procedures. I bet more people would visit. All this means that even though we have to pay twice, we still probably pay less but we also get less, like my friend in the hospital. This is a good example of you get what you pay for.
All in all, it’s hard to say which system is better. At least in Poland you’ll be treated eventually and the bills won’t ruin your life. However, in the American system you’ll get better treatment and possibly faster if you have or pay for great insurance, it’s just gonna cost you.
What’s your experience?