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Austria: healthcare system explained

Flag of Austria

Austria has been a member of the UN since December 1995 and an EU member state since January that same year.

In this guide, we’ll be walking you through the health system being used in this European country. By the time you are done reading this guide, you’ll be able to identify how the Austrian healthcare system works and use it to your advantage even as an expat.

Austrian healthcare services

The healthcare system in Austria is characterized by a unified state-funded structure and easily accessible facilities across the state. It is based on statutory social insurance, regulated by law, overseen by the General Social Insurance Act (ASVG).

The system provides excellent health services to Austrian residents and citizens. More than 89% of the people living in the country are insured by the public healthcare system while others purchase additional private health insurance.

Even though public and private coverage give you access to a countrywide quality health system, a “Special Class” or “Comfort Class” personal healthcare insurance plan allows you to get certain benefits like shorter waiting times, private hospital rooms, flexible visiting hours, and choosing your doctors.

The country has a network of state-maintained public and private hospitals. Most people opt for a General Hospital, which specializes in a wide variety of diseases and injuries.

All state and private hospitals are open to all insured patients. Patients are admitted to any hospital or clinic through the emergency department or doctor’s recommendation.

Once a patient is admitted, treatment is administered and supervised by one of the hospital doctors.

The quality of hospital rooms varies between healthcare subscriptions made by the patient. Privately insured patients may get a single room while state-insured patients will have to share with two or three other people.

Don’t be scared if you are in a public plan. There are no differences in the level of care or attention given to a patient no matter their healthcare subscription.

The system follows the principles are solidarity, affordability, and universality. All sick and injured people have a legal right to a lot of benefits and services including:

  • Primary healthcare services provided by the Austrian social insurance funds
  • Dental services
  • Ambulance services
  • Mobile and home care
  • Special in-patient and out-patient care
  • Emergency care
  • Maternity services
  • Psychotherapy
  • X-ray and laboratory tests
  • Physiotherapy, ergotherapy, speech therapy, and curative massage
  • Preventive health services
  • Rehabilitation and long term care services
  • Care for people with disabilities.

three people inside factory wearing masks and coats

These services are usually administered by medical practitioners in the country but as a patient, you can choose your family physician and have free access to other medical care.

Before you receive treatment, you must possess a health e-card. The e-card system contains your electronic signature, personal data including your date of birth and social security number, and health conditions. They are required upon arrival at the hospital.

Most of the costs for prescriptions and medicines are free and covered by the state health insurance program but in certain conditions, you will be required to pay a small fee for the prescription.

If you are in a private program, you will also have to pay for your medication and send the receipt to your insurance provider for reimbursement.

Overview of the Austrian public health service

The public healthcare system and insurance cover virtually all medical issues and protect all members of society.  Enrollment into this service is compulsory for all citizens and residents.

Getting enrolled in the Austrian public health system is super simple. Employers are obligated to register their employees and deduct the required insurance tax from their employees’ salaries.

The entire registration process is completed within seven days after the employee begins working in the company. While self-employed residents are not automatically enrolled, they are eligible and required to register in the public insurance scheme.

This insurance can also be extended to family members, spouses, and children. Pensioners, students, the disabled, and people receiving unemployment are also entitled to these benefits.

Overview of the Austrian private health insurance

The way private health insurance works are simple and similar to the system used in Germany and the USA. Even if you have public health insurance in Austria, you complement it with private health insurance.

This service offers you optimal expert care and life-long coverage. It is seen as a life-long contractual relationship, which means they cannot restrict or terminate the agreement.

There are three popular types of private health insurance plans: Inpatient Treatment, Special Class Treatment, and Outpatient Treatment

If you have private insurance, you can enjoy benefits like free dental care, travel insurance, subsidized gym memberships, and free health check-ups.

How much is private health insurance in Austria?

Private health insurance costs between €200 and €430 on average every month. The price may be higher or lower depending on your age, medical condition, and the features you included in your subscription.

Does Austria have free healthcare?

Healthcare in Austria is only free for pensioners, spouses of workers, unemployed people, and people who are unable to work because of certain extenuating conditions.

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