It is estimated that at the moment cancer is the second leading cause of death in Poland. It is most likely that in a few years’ time it will move to the first position on that inglorious list. Approximately 160 000 people are given the cancer diagnosis each year, out of which nearly 95 000 die. 175 000 Poles will be given this diagnosis by 2025.
With cancer—irrespective of the type or the stage of advancement—time is key in treatment of the disease. The earlier a diagnosis is provided and the sooner treatment begins, the higher the chance of achieving a best possible outcome. Unfortunately, the Polish state healthcare system frequently fails in this respect.
As per the policy objectives set by Poland’s Ministry of Health, a maximum of 8 weeks should pass between the patient coming to see a doctor and a diagnosis being provided. However, the cumulative average time for cancer diagnosis exceeds this limit, with patients sometimes having to wait in line for months to begin their therapy.
Statistics say that the level of healthcare expenditure is of enormous consequence as far as the effectiveness of treatment is concerned. Amongst the 27 EU states, Poland holds a distant 24th position here. Countries with a high level of healthcare expenditure are successfully treating as many as one-third of cancer patients more than those with the lowest expenditure.
STATE-OF-THE-ART TREATMENT STILL ONLY AVAILABLE ABROAD
Doctors admit that Poland’s state healthcare system fails to provide cancer patients with access to the latest therapies available. As stated by the Alivia Foundation— which analyses data collected from the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia), the National Cancer Registry (Krajowy Rejestr Nowotworów) and the Agency for Healthy Technology Assessment and Tariff System (Agencja Oceny Technologii Medycznych i Taryfikacji) —it is only in the case of malignant ovarian cancer that treatment provided in Poland meets the latest medical standards. This means that patients undergoing treatment for the remaining 99 diseases classed as cancer are still forced to make do with the now somewhat outdated therapies.
A 2017 report by the Supreme Audit Office (Najwyższa Izba Kontroli) revealed that up to 70% of cancer drugs are not available to patients in Poland. This mainly refers to the state-of-the-art therapies.
On average, innovative cancer drugs become available in Poland as late as 2 years following their introduction to the market. For the sake of comparison, patients in Germany will usually have to wait for them for up to 3 months, while in Austria it will be up to 5 months.
Even when a given medication is included on the list of reimbursable drugs, its availability in Poland tends to be much lower than in the remaining EU states. This is mainly due to the fact that the very restrictive rules on who—and to what extent—is eligible to use them are set by the Ministry of Health as opposed to consultants.
CANCER INSURANCE POLICIES ARE THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM
Cancer treatment means expenses of a mammoth scale. For instance, one monthly chemotherapy cycle applying drugs for lymphocytic leukemia represents a cost of as much as PLN 80 000. It is not surprising then that the vast majority of patients rely on treatment funded by the National Health Fund.
This is the reason why cancer insurance policies are becoming increasingly popular—they cover the cost of treatment at medical facilities (state-run and private) located in Poland and across Europe. Treatment abroad means access to the latest therapies and drugs for the insured person.
This in turn translates into a better prognosis and a greater peace of mind, which can be additionally improved by undergoing therapy with a psychologist—also funded under the policy.
MediSky cancer insurance coverage is provided under three different policy options, each of them ensuring access to treatment by the best consultants in Poland and abroad.
In addition to doctor consultations, the insured person has access to—without incurring any extra cost—laboratory tests, cancer surgical treatment, as well as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
The full range of benefits available under the individual policies can be found here: https://www.medisky.pl/anti-cancer-living/light-plan-for-cancer-coverage/