Healthy smile designers

Doctor in Poland. Long trip, half the price.

Article for the DPA (German Press Agency)
23th of August 2004

When Horst Schild goes for treatment to his dentist, he spends almost six hours in a train, crossing boundaries of the former European Union. Despite the fact that in his home town of Minden in Westphalia is enough dentists’ offices, he decides to take this exhausting journey. Schild treats his teeth in Szczecin. In HAHS Dental Clinic, the services of which he regularly uses. He is not the only German patient. One fifth of the Clinic’s patients come from Federal Republic of Germany.

"Welcome", one may read on the Website of the Clinic, located in a 600 m2 villa. “To us, the most important is the patient. Attention of dentists and other members of our staff is focused on him” says Marcin Gaborski, an economist and a son-in-law of the Clinic’s owner. The thirty-year-old manages the staff: eleven English and German speaking dentists, eight dental assistants and seven dental technicians.

He shows us the dental units with pride „We may treat eight patients simultaneously but since the number of units is often insufficient, we plan to purchase another two.” Only every second each of the 25 year old Clinic is a Pole. “In Szczecin, where approx. 3000 dentist’s offices are located, we are a luxurious clinic” says Gaborski. Every fifth patient is German and every fourth comes from Denmark. “Here I pay only half the price” says 59-year-old Dane, who combined his dental treatment with a vacation.

Also Horst Schild, who sat in the dental chair everyday for a week and a half in June at the HAHS Clinic, saved half of what he would have to pay in Germany for dental treatment. For foreigners, prices are lower than in their mother states because Polish doctors are less burdened with rental charges, taxes and other fees. “At the beginning, we attracted foreign patients with low prices. Now, we wish to earn their loyalty with the high quality of our services”, says Gaborski.

Medical research conducted by Mainz University and Rheinland-Pfalz Medical Services show that undergoing treatment abroad is connected with risk. Only every fourth respondent was satisfied with service provided by foreign doctor. Most of the must have repeat treatment in Germany, which was connected with increase of cost of this treatment. Among Clinic’s patients one may find citizens of Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. Not many patients come from a borderland Mecklenburg – Pomerania. „No mass trips in order to treat teeth were stated after May 1”, says the spokesman of Land’s Doctor’s Chamber. Fellow doctors feel insecure, though. They take into account that dental tourism phenomenon will increase together with planned removal of dental services from the catalogue of benefits financed by German state health-insurance funds.

One way or another: Westphalia citizen Schild is so satisfied with results of treatment that he recommended Polish dentists also to his partner. He searched for inexpensive dentists in Eastern Europe and that is how he found the clinic in Szczecin. “From the moment of Poland’s access to European Union, our Website is very popular among foreigners: says Gaborski. “Poland’s access to the EU was very favorable for the Clinic. Since May 1, more Germans come to us. They are not afraid of coming to Poland anymore.”

German Press Agency (dpa)