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NIK: Free toothache treatment can give you a headache.... headache

MedExpress Team


Published May 7, 2024 09:00

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Every person who pays a health contribution in Poland is entitled to free dental care under the National Health Fund, but as an audit by the Supreme Audit Office (NIK) has shown, for some treatments this is only theory. It turns out that at the root of the problem were small outlays for free dental treatment, which in real terms, taking into account the level of inflation, had not been increased for a decade. A significant increase - by almost 25 percent. - occurred only in 2022, and yet the cost of services reimbursed by the National Health Service at that time per capita amounted to about PLN 60. As a result, only a handful of surgeries sign a contract with the NFZ, and even few patients choose to receive care under guaranteed services.

Valuations of these services, which are out of line with reality, caused the number of dental clinics accepting patients under the contract signed with the NFZ to drop by 13 percent during the period covered by the audit (2021-Q1 2023), and by as much as more than 38 percent compared to 2009, which was covered by the previous NFZ audit. The NFZ data shows that during the period covered by the audit, queues of people waiting for dental advice lengthened in most clinics across the country, and in some clinics the waiting time also increased. As a result, there were situations in which even patients with a toothache who should have been admitted on the day they reported to the dentist were sent away.

Another problem identified by the NIK was a significant reduction in the scope of publicly financed services. Adult patients, for example, could only receive free root canal treatment from "three to three" and only once, as the National Health Service did not pay for repeated root canal treatment of the same teeth. Meanwhile, the lack of reimbursement for root canal treatment of lateral teeth (premolars and molars) and the high cost of the procedure mean that instead of undergoing treatment, Poles often opt for tooth extractio...

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