Medical assistance in Poland: A guide for Ukrainian citizens

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People using medical services in Poland enjoy special legal protection. Whatever their nationality, all patients have the same rights. Below we discuss the main patient rights and legal solutions for Ukrainian citizens.

Planned legislative changes

The Polish government is preparing special legal solutions allowing the settlement of the costs of medical services provided to Ukrainian citizens arriving in Poland in connection with Russia’s military aggression.

These solutions will apply to citizens of Ukraine who have a certificate issued by Polish Border Guards or a Border Guard stamp in their travel document, confirming their legal stay in Poland after crossing the border on or after February 24, 2022 in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine.

The regulations will cover medical institutions that have signed a contract with the National Health Fund. The legislative changes will be retroactive to February 24, 2022.

The rules for the provision of medical services to Ukrainian citizens and the settlement of the costs of such services will be identical to those applicable to Polish patients. Citizens of Ukraine will have an additional basis entitling them to health benefits in Poland.

The National Health Fund will pay for services with funds from the state budget. The basis of payment will be the rates included in the contracts with the National Health Fund.

A Ukrainian patient – how medical institutions should act

Special legal solutions are being worked out, but even now, when a Ukrainian patient presents to healthcare providers, they:

  • Shouldn’t refuse to help
  • Should not refer the patient to another provider
  • Should not require the patient to pay for services rendered and should not charge the patient for services
  • Should separately register each case of assistance to a citizen of Ukraine, based on data from the patient’s passport or other travel document or a certificate issued by Polish border guards.

Reporting and settlement of health services provided to citizens of Ukraine under contracts with the National Health Fund will be possible as soon as a special law is adopted and settlement solutions are defined.

Patient rights

APPROPRIATE QUALITY OF CARE

All patients are entitled to medical services that meet the requirements of modern medicine and are diligently provided by healthcare providers under conditions that meet the professional and health requirements defined by specific regulations. This means that although the quality of care may vary, it must meet at least a minimum acceptable standard.

UNDERSTANDABLE MEDICAL INFORMATION

As part of the medical services rendered by a doctor, every patient has the right to obtain from the doctor accessible information on:

  • His health
  • Diagnostic
  • Proposed and possible methods of diagnosis and treatment
  • Anticipated consequences of the application or non-application of such methods
  • Results of treatment
  • Prognosis.

If anything is unclear, ask your doctor or other healthcare professional about it. Note that medical facilities are not required to provide an interpreter. However, you may be able to get

help from family or friends, volunteers or professional interpreters.

MEDICAL CARE ONLY WITH YOUR CONSENT

Every patient has the right to give informed consent to receive certain medical services or to refuse such consent. This means that no one should be treated with force. Medical care is not provided without your consent. Consent must be informed, and therefore preceded by the information mentioned above. You have the right to know what you are agreeing to.

MEDICAL PRIVACY

Medical practitioners, including those who provide medical services, have a duty to keep confidential all patient information obtained in the course of the practice of medicine. This means that no one other than you, your delegates or other authorized persons will receive information about your health.

APPROPRIATE CONDITIONS

All patients have the right to respect for their privacy and dignity, particularly when receiving medical care. This means that while healthcare facilities may vary, they must provide a sense of privacy and appropriate handling. At your request, a loved one may be present during the medical services.

ACCESS TO MEDICAL RECORDS

Every patient has the right to access medical records concerning their condition and the medical services provided to them. This means that the medical services provided must be documented. You can also get prescriptions, referrals and other medical records. You will also be able to use these documents for further processing, even if it is not prosecuted in Poland.

Medication

If you do not have refugee status, you will pay the full price of prescription drugs. Persons arriving from Ukraine as part of the ongoing armed conflict are not entitled to reimbursement for medicines. If you have refugee status, you have the right to use publicly funded healthcare services in Poland, including reimbursed medicines. The prescription must bear the symbol “BW”. You will also need to provide proof of refugee status.

In the event of a vital or health emergency, you can obtain a prescription directly from the pharmacy. This is called a pharmaceutical prescription, which is issued by a licensed pharmacist. Full price is paid for these prescription drugs.

You can also fill a prescription issued in Ukraine, paid for in full at a Polish pharmacy, if it contains the following information:

  • The patient’s name
  • Patient address
  • Common (international) name or trade name of the medicine
  • Form of the drug
  • Drug strength
  • Amount of drug
  • Date the prescription was issued
  • The details of the person issuing the prescription in the form of an imprint or stamp and the signature of the person issuing the prescription.

Covid-19

Since February 25, 2022, an amendment to the regulations establishing certain restrictions, orders and prohibitions in connection with the outbreak of an epidemic has entered into force. Under the amendment, people crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border amid the armed conflict do not have to undergo quarantine or present a negative Covid test result. In addition, they can get vaccinated against Covid-19 and get tested for free.

Special law

On March 7, 2022, the Polish government adopted a special draft law on assistance to Ukrainian citizens in connection with the armed conflict in this country. The main points of the special law in the field of health are as follows:

  • Access to free medical care under the same rules and in the same scope as people covered by compulsory or voluntary health insurance in Poland
  • The costs of health services will be covered by the National Health Fund
  • Simplification of the rules for the employment of health professionals (doctors and nurses) from Ukraine and their orientation to work, for example in health centers or temporary hospitals.
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