Healthcare system and insurance in Austria

Regardless of the country, you are moving to, healthcare is a major concern. Austria has a very good healthcare system that is based on the principle of solidarity. Employed people possess statutory or public insurance. The Austrian healthcare system is very affordable and accessible also for people with low incomes. Nearly 100% of people living in Austria possess statutory medical insurance. In this article, you will learn all you should know about the Austrian healthcare system and medical insurance.

Is healthcare in Austria good?

Yes, healthcare in Austria is very good. Austrian doctors and medical staff are well educated and professional. Austrian hospitals are modern and well equipped. Austrian healthcare system always has a good ranking in comparison to other countries and this ranking ranges between 14th and 25th place worldwide according to the different rankings.

The biggest advantage of the Austrian healthcare system is its accessibility. Almost 100% of people living in Austria have statutory or public health insurance which is very good and it is covering all your important needs. The main requirement for statutory insurance is to be employed. Around 3 million people in Austria possess private medical insurance on top of statutory insurance. Private insurance provides you with additional benefits such as lower waiting hours at doctors, better treatment, and access to private doctors and hospitals.

In addition to the global Corona crisis, there is a crisis in the health care system. Currently, Austria’s good health system is being tested. However, its supply of hospital beds with intensive care is high in comparison with other countries. Measured as a share of the gross domestic product, Austria is in a good position with its health system according to the OEGB.

How much does it cost to see a doctor in Austria?

A routine doctor’s visit in Austria costs from 50 EUR to 100 EUR depending on the federal state. This is a price which you have to pay if you are a visitor or tourist who doesn’t have valid medical insurance in Austria.

We recommend checking whether you have valid health insurance for Austria and buying medical insurance if you don’t have it. In case something bad happens and you don’t have valid health insurance your bill for medical treatment could be astronomic. 

To make use of medical services in Austria, EU citizens must fill out form E 111.

The following countries have signed social insurance agreements: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Norway, Sweden, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey. However, citizens of these nationals have to visit the doctor in their home country and get approval before traveling to Austria. The main requirement is that you have good health before visiting Austria.

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Does Austria and Vienna have free healthcare?

No, there is no free healthcare in Austria and Vienna. You can get statutory medical insurance only if you are employed and of course for additional private insurance you have to pay extra.

Is healthcare expensive in Austria? How much does health insurance cost in Austria?

Yes, healthcare is relatively expensive in Austria. There are two different medical insurances in Austria: Statutory (public) health insurance and private health insurance. All people who are employed in Austria have statutory health insurance and your contribution is automatically deducted from your gross salary which means that you don’t have to pay any extra fees for insurance once you receive your net salary.

The statutory health insurance costs 454.86 EUR in Austria if you are not working (value 2021). Depending on your financial situation, you can apply for a reduction of this fee. For example, if you don’t have any income it will cost you only around 115 EUR per month or if you are a regular student it costs only 64 EUR.

On top of that, you can buy private health insurance which costs between 200 EUR and 400 EUR per month for adults but this is an optional insurance. The actual price depends on your age, the insurance package, and the benefits which you choose, and on the insurance company.

Health System and Health Insurance in Austria

The health system in Austria

All Austrian citizens are required to have health insurance. The Austrian health system is financed through the contributions of citizens. Employees and employers are sharing these contributions equally. Therefore, solidarity is the cornerstone of the health care system. Your contributions to the public health system are based on your income and are not affected by age or health. Family members can also in many cases be insured free of charge. Almost all employees and self-employed people in Austria possess statutory medical insurance. 

Private health insurance could be selected as additional coverage in Austria, not as a replacement for statutory health insurance. The term supplementary insurance is often used to refer to private health insurance. Additional private insurance provides benefits such as lower waiting times at doctor, the opportunity to visit private doctors and hospitals, covering the costs of privileges such for example single room in the hospital, etc.

Austria has seen an increase in elective doctors in recent years, while the number of statutory insurance doctors has remained relatively constant. The number of people who use medical services is also increasing as the Austrian population ages. There are long waiting times in hospitals and ordinations as well as for certain treatments such as instance MRIs or surgeries. As a result of these developments, the number of people who are buying private health insurance has increased significantly over time. Around 3.3 million people in Austria possess private health insurance in addition to statutory insurance because private health insurance offers a lot of benefits according to the Krankenversichern.

For those people who seek the best possible medical protection and services and don’t have time to wait private health insurance is recommended.

What is covered by statutory health insurance?

The compulsory health insurance covers all necessary medical services and treatments for all doctors and hospitals which have contracts with public health insurance institutions. All general practitioners and specialists who have signed a contract with the public insurance institution called ÖGK are available for patients who possess statutory health insurance. 

Statutory health insurance represents basic medical coverage. This is enough to cover all your important needs and you should not have any worries if you have this insurance.

The statutory health insurance covers prescription drugs in full, except for the prescription fee. Currently, each drug costs around 6 euros. 

If you are an inpatient in the hospital, you will be able to use a communal room with others patients. Hospitals charge a flat rate for meals which is approximately 10 euros per day for a maximum of 28 days.

Statutory health insurance covers nonsurgical and surgical treatments at the dentist. The treatments which are covered include, among others, fillings and tooth removal. The dentist must inform the patient about the extra costs if these are preferred due to cosmetics reasons. These extra costs are billed directly to the insured person. In this case, the health insurers will only reimburse 80 percent of the costs for these services. For dentures, a maximum of 60 percent of the costs will be covered.

When it comes to psychotherapy, there is no charge for the first ten sessions. After ten sessions, subsidies are usually provided by health insurers to cover the additional costs. 

Continuity of wage and sick pay payments in Austria

Employees in Austria are also entitled to continue receiving their wages in case of illness. 

Initially, the sick pay is paid in full and then in half of your actual salary. 

In the first five years, employees are entitled to 6 full weeks and 4 half weeks. Employees who fall ill again within 6 months will receive another 6 weeks of 50 percent continuing payment and 4 weeks of 25 percent continuing payment.

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Who has a right to be insured by statutory or public health insurance?

Statutory health insurance also covers the relatives of insured individuals. As a co-insured, you will not have to pay any additional amount. You can also self-insure if you do not have statutory medical insurance. 

What is covered by private health insurance?

Private health insurance consists of different components. In other words, you can choose the insurance coverage according to your own needs which means that you are creating your package of medical services which this insurance should cover.

Classic components are for example special class insurance and private doctor insurance (Source: Durchblicker).

Private insurance offers benefits such as short waiting times and free choice of the doctor while special class insurance offers advantages such as free choice of hospital and single room when staying in the hospital.

How much does private health insurance cost in Austria?

The private health insurance for an adult in Austria costs between 200 EUR and 400 EUR. The actual price depends on your age, the insurance package, and the benefits which you choose, and on the insurance company.

By comparing offers of insurance companies you can save money. We recommend Durchblicker for finding the cheapest insurance offer.

These are the main advantages of private health insurance in Austria:

  • Fast doctor’s appointments
  • Quick hospital appointments
  • The option to choose which doctor to visit
  • The option to choose which hospital to go to
  • Access to the Private health care
  • Private health insurance is relatively affordable to anyone who has good health

These are the main disadvantages of private health insurance:

  • Pre-existing illness makes it difficult to be admitted for private health insurance
  • Criteria for admission are strict

When does it make sense to purchase private health insurance in Austria?

Buying private medical insurance makes sense for the following groups:

High earning employees – insurance is relatively cheap and tax deductible since it is a special expense

Self-employed people – lower contribution in comparison to other groups

Civil servants – lower contributions and special prices

Students – lower contributions since young people usually have a good health

Source: Praktischartz

How to find a doctor in Austria

You can find a doctor in Austria by searching at the Medical Association for Vienna This website provides information on doctors in all regions of Austria. Fortunately, there is a possibility to freely choose which doctor you would like to visit in Austria. Besides listing doctors by their specialties, Bookimed also provides information on their educational and professional backgrounds.

How to find English speaking doctor in Austria

Austrian doctors are generally fluent in English. 

The Praxisplan allows you to search specifically for a doctor who speaks English.

Also, the American Embassy hosts a list of English-speaking doctors in Vienna. If you have a basic knowledge of German great source is Docfinder.

Note that you might need to pay an additional fee if you want to see a particular doctor which depends on the insurance which you have. 

How to make an appointment with the doctor in Austria? How can I see a doctor in Austria?

As a foreigner, you might be surprised that in Austria patients should not go to the hospital unless they need serious medical treatment or surgery. General practitioners so-called Hausärzte usually provide treatment or refer patients to specialists if necessary. Therefore, the first thing you should do is finding a general practitioner in your neighborhood. There is also an opportunity to make your appointment with a specialist in his practice if you want to go directly to a specialist. However, in this case, you might be required to provide a referral from your general practitioner. Once you found your local general practitioner you should call and make an appointment to prevent long waiting times.

However, it’s important to be aware that certain specialists may require a referral from your GP. You can also book appointments online using the free service, Doctena.

In Austria, the standard of healthcare is high, but the wait times can belong. Generally, you will have to wait up to four days for an appointment with the general practitioner and several weeks for a specialist appointment. Once you arrive at your appointment, the wait time may vary. You can expect to wait between 10 and 20 minutes on average.

Before visiting doctor have a look on this Useful German medical vocabulary:

  • die Praxis – doctor’s office
  • der Termin – appointment
  • schmerz – pain
  • Ich habe Fieber – I have a fever
  • das Thermometer – thermometer
  • Kopfschmerz means “headache,” Bauchschmerz means “stomachache”, and Ruckenschmerz stands for “back pain”
  • der Schnupfen/die Erkältung – a cold
  • das schleimlösende Mittel – decongestant
  • das Schmerzmittel – painkiller
  • Das Rezept – prescription

Source: Fluentu

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Student health insurance in Austria

In Austria, students can take out inexpensive self-insurance. To qualify, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Permanent residence in Austria
  • It is prohibited to exceed the minimum duration of study plus one semester per study section by more than four semesters
  • A maximum of 5,814 euros is earned annually
  • No studies have been completed yet
  • A maximum of two times can the course of study be changed

Applicants for health insurance must submit their applications to their region’s health insurance fund.

Uninsured persons: What to do if I don’t have medical insurance in Austria?

If there is no acute need for medical treatment, medical care can be denied in case you don’t have valid health insurance for Austria and you are not willing to pay the price for medical treatment.

There is an obligation to care for patients in emergencies. However, the same applies to people who do not have a residence permit. For those without health insurance, there are free inpatient and outpatient facilities such as Amber-Med.

This facility of Diakonie Österreich in cooperation with the Austrian Red Cross offers outpatient medical care, social advice, and medication help for people without insurance protection (free of charge and without an e-card, (source Austrian Goverment).

How to register and get free medical insurance in Austria?

Once you get employed your employer is responsible for taking care of your medical insurance and registering you in the public health system. Your monthly contributions will be automatically deducted which means there are no additional fees you need to pay. Once you are registered, you will receive a so-called E-card, your health insurance card per post. Every time you have a medical appointment you should take your E-card with you a proof that you have health insurance and this card also has data about your medical history.

Healthcare comparison Austria vs Germany: Is healthcare better in Austria or in Germany?

When deciding whether to move to Austria or to Germany one of many factors to be considered is the healthcare system. Austria and Germany have very different health systems. We will explain how the two systems are organized and financed, and what advantages and problems each system offers.

Health care in Austria

Federal, state, local, and social security agencies administer the health system in Austria. Health care costs are mainly covered by public funds. Employment is associated with statutory health insurance. In this insurance, family members and partners can also be covered. In some cases, self-insurance is also an option.

Advantages

Most 100% of Austrian citizens have their health insurance due to compulsory health insurance. Due to Austria’s solidarity-based financing, everyone has equal and easy access to health care insurance. Factors such as age, place of residence, social status, income, and origin are irrelevant for statutory health insurance in Austria.

Disadvantages

The Austrian healthcare system has many advantages, such as equal medical care for all, but it also has some drawbacks. These are the most common problems:

  • High financial costs
  • Long waiting lists in the resident area
  • Little medical offspring
  • Austrians get seriously or permanently ill earlier
  • Overcrowded ambulances
  • Few pediatricians
  • The low number of birth hospitals

Source: Praktischartzt

Health care in Germany

In Germany, the healthcare system is organized around four core principles: compulsory insurance, contribution financing, co-determination, and self-determination.

A statutory health insurance is a requirement for all citizens. However, this depends on income. 

In principle, all employees whose gross wages do not exceed the current applicable annual income limit (compulsory insurance limit) are compulsorily insured in statutory health insurance. For the year 2021, this is 64,350 euros or 5,362.50 euros per month according to the Finanztip.

You can also purchase private insurance if you have a higher income.

Contribution financing refers to the fact that the health system is mainly financed by contributions from the population with health insurance, and by employers as well. 

The principle of solidarity supports the community of solidarity because all statutory insured persons have the right to medical care and continuing wages. The amount of the contribution depends on the respective income, so everyone is responsible for everyone.

Advantages

Medical care is financed stably and securely. The German health system is also particularly strong due to the adjusted insurance fees.

Disadvantages

Nevertheless, the system has some problems and these are:

  • Missing nurses
  • Insufficient salary for nurses and geriatric nurses
  • Aging of skilled workers
  • Rising costs for younger generations

Source: Praktischarzt


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