Much Ado about Nothing? The Responsiveness of the Healthcare System in Poland through Patients’ Eyes

from Health Policy at on September 30, 2019 at 11:27AM

Publication date: Available online 30 September 2019

Source: Health Policy

Author(s): Paulina Polak, Maria Świątkiewicz-Mośny, Aleksandra Wagner


This article analyzes the outcomes of the key healthcare reforms undertaken in Poland and assesses how successful they have been. Contrary to the governmental perspective on success, understood in terms of economic efficiency, we define it in terms of patient satisfaction. As such, health policy is treated as a political system’s response to the problems emerging in the public agenda. The analysis therefore focuses on the responsiveness of the healthcare system through patients’ eyes.

This analysis takes three main reforms undertaken in post-1989 Poland as reference points. These were: Regional Sickness Funds (Kasy Chorych, 1999); the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia, 2003/2004); and the waiting lists package and the oncological package (pakiet kolejkowy and pakiet onkologiczny, 2015). Each introduced key institutional changes, but also sparked media interest, public attention, and mass discourse. The article presents the main goals and the most important consequences of the reforms for patients.

For the purposes of the analysis, the following patient-oriented indicators of reform success were chosen: (1) public satisfaction with healthcare, (2) waiting times, (3) number of health professionals. The assembled data from national and international databases leads to the conclusion that the reforms have not succeeded.