POLISH HEALTHCARE SPENDING TRAILS OECD NATIONS

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Poland has one of the lowest levels of expenditure on healthcare among OECD nations, according to the recent report OECD Health Indicators 2005. The study claims that Poland's total health spending was PLN47bn (US$14.38bn) in 2002, a significant increase over 1990 levels, when it was under PLN3bn (US$917.84mn), but still relatively low compared to other countries.

The report goes on to state that health spending as percentage of GDP has risen dramatically over the past five years in most OECD countries. In 1997, the average ratio was 7.8%, while in 2002 this had reached 8.5%. This compares to the period of 1992-1997 when the proportion of GDP allocated for health remained static.

In Poland this upward trend has not been recognised. In 2002, health expenditure as a percentage of GDP stood at 6.0%, while in 1992 it was 6.2%. As a result of poor public provision, the private healthcare market in Poland is growing rapidly. An estimated 56% of Poles, predominately from higher income groups, use private insurance, with 10% of the population opting out of the state sector entirely.

However, industry sources indicate the OECD statistics can be misleading, pointing to the fact that in most of the markets studied, actual health spending did not increase. Lower economic growth has also been blamed for healthcare's rising share of GDP.