Staying healthy –Austrian health system

Staying Healthy - Austrian Health System:

Austria is well known for a generous social system including an efficient and extensive healthcare system. There are public hospitals in nearly every Viennese district, numerous private clinics and thousands of doctors.

Coming from an European Union member country and staying temporarily in Vienna you are automatically entitled to free basic health care due to reciprocal agreements among EU countries. The only requirement is having the E111-form which is provided by your home country’s health insurance authorities. Alternatively, you may be issued with the European Health Insurance Card. The European Health Insurance Card makes it easier for people from the European Union’s 27 Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland to access healthcare services during temporary visits abroad.

Possessing either the E-111 form or the card ensures that you will get the same access to public sector health care (e.g. a doctor, a pharmacy, a hospital or a health care center) as Austrians.

Everyone living, working and studying in Austria must assure and proof to be health insured. Since health insurance is part of the social security insurance system it is required by law for people staying in Austria to be insured. The social security system can also include accidents, invalid compensation, free Kindergartens since 2009,  unemployment insurances and retirement payments. The basis for this comprehensive social welfare system was given in 1955 with the passing of the “Allgemeine Sozialversicherungsgesetz (ASVG)”.

Basic healthcare and dental treatment care in public hospitals and medication are covered, as well as visits at specialists. The Austrian health insurance covers fully or partially all treatment costs.

In Austria there are two types of health insurance:

  1. 1.Compulsory insurance, which guarantees necessarytreatments and is not for profit.
  2. 2.or private insurance, which provides additional benefits such as single rooms in hospitals etc. are for profit, as offered by private insurance companies.

The cost for an insured person depends on their income and therefore varies a lot.

However, under Austrian law, any health organization, public or private, is required to treat patients in an emergency situation regardless of their insurance status.


Any employee is insured automatically by law, if the salary exceeds a certain amount of money per month (In 2011 € 374.02 / month or € 28.72 / day).

The insurance contributions of employees are deducted directly from their wage or salary. It is paid together with the amount of money the employer has to deposit at the health insurance.

In addition to the compulsory insurance, everyone can sign up for private insurance at an insurance company of choice. There are many different offered packages which vary in price and service:

Better hospital service which should ensure greater comfort, policies which include paying additional costs for doctor’s visits, or paying for alternative healing methods just to mention a few.

Visiting doctors:

You always should make an appointment since otherwise waiting points could be very long. For urgent help you can go to a public hospital but also to a doctor during her/his office hours, but expect to wait either way.

To get an appointment it could take several days or in unusual circumstances even weeks.

To see a doctor you always need to have a health insurance voucher (Krankenschein) and your E-card. Vouchers are issued by your health insurance fund. There are different vouchers for general physicians, specialists or dentists. Please note that there is a cost of almost €4 per voucher which has to be paid by the insured person.

The e-card is a digital and much more convenient alternative to health insurance vouchers. It is a smart card which substitutes most health insurance vouchers. For the cardholder medical treatment is accessible with low administrative barriers and without any paper documents.

Each insured person who received compulsory insurance receives such a card.

Note that some doctors only treat privately insured clients.

Generally doctors who accept state payments display a sign Kassenarzt or Alle Kassen in their surgery and have a note on their website.

However, never take anything for granted and think that every treatment is for free. Even in the case of an emergency, there is no such thing as free, non-charged treatment.


Austria is one of the European leaders in medical care:


A yearly study shows that Austria has one of the World’s best health care systems.

The study is compiled by Health Consumer Powerhouse, a renowned Swedish organization, which monitors and compares healthcare systems of 35 countries, including all EU members. Every year, they compile a ranking list of the best health care systems in the EU member states plus Switzerland and Norway. Austria is consistently under the top 4 spots since years.

The reason: "A generous health care system with excellent access to doctors for patients and very good medical results." Austria for example has the best cancer survival rates in the whole of Europe and achieved great results in categories such as patient rights and information, short waiting times and access to medications.

According to this expert study, Austria not only has one of the most consumer-friendly health care systems in the world, but also spends considerably less money on medical care than countries which can be found behind Austria in the Euro Health Consumer index.

Key factors in Austria's well-organized and effective health care system are short waiting periods for visits to the doctor and emergency operations, direct access to doctors and good treatment results.

The chances of surviving a heart attack or cancer are also good in Austria: for heart attacks, they are more than 92%, and 60% of cancer patients survive longer than five years.


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