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Austria Healthcare
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General

Austria is well known for a generous social system. Although spending has been reduced in recent years, you will still find very good healthcare and a strong social security system. There is an extensive network of hospitals and doctors covering even the remotest areas of Austria.

If you are a tourist or just staying temporarily in Austria coming from a European Union country you are automatically entitled to free basic health care due to reciprocal agreements among EU countries. You need to have the E111-form that is available from your home country’s health insurance authorities. Alternatively, you may be issued with the European Health Insurance Card, which is in the process of being introduced at different speeds in different countries and is an equivalent replacing the E111-form.

Everyone living and working in Austria must make health insurance contributions. Health insurance is part of the social security insurance system. Depending on the type of employment, there are different fee and payment scales. The social security system can also include accident, pension and unemployment insurances. Basic healthcare and dental treatment care in public hospitals and medication are covered, as well as visits at specialists. The cost for an insured person depends on their income and therefore varies a lot.

Getting Insured

If you have found a job, you are almost automatically enrolled in the public health system. Without a job, this can be a costly undertaking. Make sure you know how to be properly insured.

Within seven days of starting a new job, both employees and independent contractors must be enrolled in one or more insurance programmes within the social insurance system. The employee then receives a green Social Insurance Card ( Sozialversicherungskarte), which shows your social insurance number and date of birth. It is recommended you always carry this card with you.

There are basically two ways to enroll:

  • If you are an employee, this is straightforward because your employer is required to process your enrolment at the district health insurance fund ( Gebietskrankenkasse).
  • If you are working as an independent contractor, you have to register yourself with the Social Insurance for the Industrial Economy - Sozialversicherung der gewerblichen Wirtschaft’.

Dependants

All family dependants of an employed person (e.g. wife/husband and children) are covered by their social security insurance. If you are self-employed, you need to get additional insurance to cover members of your family.

Medical help

With health insurance you can visit most doctors in Austria and be sure of getting treatment in the case illness or accidents. On the presentation of your insurance voucher, you can be sure that you will receive the proper treatment.

It is always recommended to make an appointment (Termin) as waiting times can be long. If you need urgent help, you go without an appointment during office hours, but expect to wait. Otherwise you may have to wait several days or even weeks, especially to consult a dentist or specialist. Even with an appointment, you will find you probably have to spend some time waiting. Normal surgery hours and appointment times can differ considerably but are usually every morning, but not every afternoon. Few surgeries open on Saturdays and on Sunday. During holiday times most doctors have a locum in to cover for them.

Insurance Voucher

To see a doctor you need to have a health insurance voucher (Krankenschein). Vouchers are issued by your health insurance fund. There are different vouchers for general physicians, specialists or dentists. There is a cost of about €3.63 per voucher to be paid by the insured person. In some Austrian districts the number of vouchers per calendar quarter is limited. There are exemptions from the person voucher fee or drug prescription fees, e.g. for children or exempt persons. Holiday health vouchers, as well as exchanged, corrected or unused vouchers are not charged for. When you are looking for a doctor be aware that only those having contracts with the insurance fund are free to visit. Note that some doctors only treat privately insured clients. If you have state insurance, make sure you check this when making an appointment. Doctors who accept state payments generally display a sign Kassenarzt or Alle Kassen in their surgery. If you're treated by anyone other than a Kassenarzt, you will not be reimbursed by the state insurance scheme.

In case of an emergency, don’t worry about insurance issues and just head directly to the nearest emergency room. Under Austrian law, any health organisation, public or private, is required to treat patients in an emergency situation regardless of their insurance status. However, they might want to charge you for their services afterwards, so don’t think you get everything for free.

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