Health care costs are on the rise. Patients will have to spend more on medical care.

Health care costs are on the rise. Patients will have to spend more on medical care.

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An aging society and increased demand for medical services, lack of doctors and nurses, which forces an increase in salaries, and the need to invest in modern technologies and diagnostic equipment - these are the main reasons for the rising costs of health care. This applies to both public health care and the increasingly popular private sector in Poland. Private entities are increasingly more often deciding to valorise the prices of medical services in order to maintain high quality of care.

The biggest challenge for the health sector, both for private and public entities, is the rising cost of providing medical care. This is due to many factors, but aging society is one of the main reasons. With age, we become more and more susceptible to various types of diseases or health-related problems, which is why we often go to the doctor and undergo diagnostics.

Artur Białkowski, Vice President at Medicover Polska

By 2030, the medical sector will face a major challenge related to health care costs. The main reason for this is demography - according to CSO data, in 1988 only 14 percent of Poland’s population was over the age of 65, while in 2016 this number was 24 percent, and by the end of the next decade it is expected to increase to 30 percent.

Another reason is that we are developing systems and technologies for providing high-quality medical care. Years ago when we had a health problem we would get an X-ray. Today, people rarely do that anymore and instead undergo an ultrasound or magnetic resonance. These technologies are much more expensive than X-rays, thus providing high-quality medical care simply becomes more expensive.

Artur Białkowski, Vice President at Medicover Polska

For example, in 2016 Medicover patients received more than one million more consultations than in 2015 and underwent half a million more tests. This translates into an increase in diagnostics costs. Last year they were 6 percent higher than in 2016.

Increased expenditures for diagnostic tests require investing in modern equipment.

By the end of 2018 we are looking to open more medical centres and update our services. We are also looking for innovative methods of providing medical care, for example through telemedicine or e-patient services. We offer a modern mobile application through which patients can book appointments, check test results and use many other features.

Artur Białkowski, Vice President at Medicover Polska

Another factor that increases the cost of medical care is the shortage of doctors and nurses. These recruitment problems force higher wages and, consequently, increase the cost of services.

According to OECD statistics, for every 10,000 people in Poland there are 23 doctors and 52 nurses. Meanwhile, the average for OECD countries is 34 doctors and 90 nurses. It is predicted that over the next decade the number of doctors specialising in fields such as paediatrics, dermatology and gynaecology will drastically decrease in Poland.

Compared to other European countries, Poland has the least number of doctors and nurses per 100,000 residents. This means that employing a good doctor simply costs more.

Artur Białkowski, Vice President at Medicover Polska

The Vice President of Medicover Polska believes that the problems faced by the health care industry mean that the patients themselves should expect to pay more for medical care. Maintaining high quality services and meeting the increased costs of medical services requires the private sector to valorise prices. Currently, about 30 percent of all services are financed from private budgets (subscriptions, medical and individual insurance, private doctor visits).

There are many ways in which we are trying to cope with these challenges: we try to modernise our services and provide various ways of obtaining medical care. Medicover offers a coordinated medical care model, thanks to which we are able to provide better quality within a shorter period of time, while generating lower costs.

Artur Białkowski, Vice President at Medicover Polska

The growing costs of health care are not just a problem for Poland. On a global scale, health care spending will increase from 7 trillion USD in 2015 to 8.7 trillion USD in 2020 – as apparent from last year's Deloitte report ("Global health care outlook 2017").

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