Health care in Austria
- In Austria you only visit the hospital in case of an emergency, in case of people usually go to a general practitioner (physician).
- Your health insurance pays for most of the health services.
- To visit a doctor you need to be covered by a health insurance and you need to bring your insurance card (e-card) with you.
- The emergency numbers in Austria are: fire brigade 122 , police 133, ambulance 144, 112 European emergency number.
How do I receive health insurance?
As a refugee you need to get registered in Austria as an asylum applicant in order to get health insurance. You will have your initial medical examination as an asylum seeker after your initial admission to a reception center usually conducted within 24 hours. As a registered asylum applicant you are automatically health insured. Hence you shall receive the same services from health insurance as Austrians; furthermore, you are exempt from prescription charges. In some federal provinces such as Vienna, asylum seekers receive an insurance card (e-card) in the same way as other insured persons and can thus access health care with your insurance contracts without complications. In other federal provinces like Styria or Salzburg, you must first request a document which will replace your insurance card (e-card) for the time being in order to visit doctors.
For information regarding finding a General Practitioner or Specialist in your community see chapter 1.3 Types of Health Care Services.
Persons with granted international protection
When you are granted international protection, you get a valid working permit.
It is your employers’ obligation to sign you up for health insurance.
As a self-employed worker it is your responsibility to register for social insurance including health insurance. More information for self-employed workers: self-employment and social insurance in Austria.
As long as you are not having any income, you are able to apply for demand-oriented basic care. Anybody who is getting basic care is automatically health insured and will receive an e-card.
For information regarding finding a General Practitioner or Specialist in your community see chapter 1.3 Types of Health Care Services.
Family member of person granted protection
Insured persons and their family members can make use of healthcare services. This concerns
- Wives, husbands, registered partners and under certain circumstances persons in life partnership
- Children until the age of 18
- Children until the age of 21, as long they are not employed
- Children until the age of 26, as long as they are in education (apprenticeship or study at university)
Can I receive health care without a health insurance?
Persons without health insurance (e.g. asylum seekers who don’t register themselves as asylum applicants) can receive medical services by the NGO-run health project AMBER MED (http://www.amber-med.at/en) with doctors providing treatment on a voluntary basis.
Where can I go if I need medical help?
There are hospitals and doctor´s practices in Austria. Just in case of an emergency you are going to seek for a hospital. In all other cases you´re going to see a General Practitioner (in German: AllgemeinmedizinerIn or Hausarzt/Hausärztin) first. Most of the time you can visit the doctor´s practice during office hours without an appointment. You are going to remain in the waiting room until your name will be called out. You can find a General Practitioner in your neighborhood online (Website: ww.aerztesuche.at). There are a few General Practitioners who speak Arabic, Farsi or English themselves, otherwise you should take care that an interpreter or another person for translation is with you.
If necessary, the General Practitioner will send you to a specialist or to the hospital.
What do I have to pay visiting a doctor?
Most of the treatment costs are settled directly between the doctor and the health insurance organization. That means you generally don’t have any costs visiting a doctor. Very seldom there will be additive costs for the patients. In case of specified treatments, extra services or certain confirmations you will have to pay something in addition. Some treatments won´t be covered at all or not to full extent by the health insurance organization. In case of uncertainty ask your doctor whether or not there are additional costs.
What do I have to bring with me visiting a doctor?
You will need to bring your insurance card ( e-card) to visit the doctor´s practice (in case of basic care in some federal states a proof of insurance). This e-card with the size of a credit card or the proof of insurance will be issued upon application by the social insurance and sent to you via mail. You will need to show the e-card or proof of insurance every single time you visit the doctor´s practice or the hospital. In addition to that you always ought to take a photo ID with you. All data the doctor will need from you are saved on the e-card.
What can I do in case of an emergency?
An emergency is a situation where human life is in danger.
In case of emergency, please call one of the following numbers:
- Ambulance: 144
- Police: 133
- Fire department: 122
- Women emergency number: 0800 222 555
- European emergency call, which is valid in any European country: 112
These numbers are free of charge wherever you find yourself in Austria and must not be dialed with an area code. You can reach the emergencies also from a payphone without paying and from mobile phones without a sim-card, sometimes even without a signal.
Please note that these numbers only should be called in case of an emergency. Misuse can get expensive! For example, driving with an ambulance to the hospital in an inappropriate situation can have quite a large bill as a result.
What do I have to consider visiting a specialist?
Appointments at specialists might have to be made well in advance. It is common appointments are assigned with a waiting period of some weeks. Austrians have to wait that long as well. In most cases you go to your General Practitioner first who then sends you to a specialist with a referral. But there are exceptions to that: for example, you can make an appointment directly with gynecologists, dentists or eye specialists. In case of uncertainty ask at the reception of the practitioner if you need a referral of your General Practitioner. Make sure the practitioner is in contract with your health insurance (panel doctor); otherwise in the case of a doctor of choice (German: Wahlarzt), you have to come up for the costs and only part of the costs will be reimbursed by your health insurance. You can find specialists in your community at the Homepage of the medical chamber.
Which dental services are covered by health insurance?
Some treatments won´t be covered at all or not to full extent by the health care organization. Special dental treatments have to be paid by the patient him/herself quite often. This concerns dental implants in particular: they won´t be paid by the health insurance and are quite expensive unfortunately. As a general rule, health care only covers treatments that are necessary from a medical point of view, but it will not cover treatments that are for aesthetic reasons. More information about dental care in Austria.
What do I have to consider concerning my children?
The mother-child-booklet serves as a health provision for pregnant women and infants. It includes the medical check-ups during pregnancy and until the 5th year of life of the child, which are intended by the mother-child-passport-program. All mandatory check-ups are important for both mother and child. The check-ups are only free of charge if panel doctors are consulted. In order to be eligible for childcare allowance (in German: Kinderbetreuungsgeld) you must have the five examinations during the pregnancy and the five examinations during the first 14 months after the child was born done correctly and obtain proof of it. Otherwise your childcare allowance will be shortened.
- For further information concerning the mother-child-booklet (German)
- For further information concerning the birth of a child (English)
What vaccinations for children are mandatory or recommended in Austria?
- Vaccination-brochure: The most important information concerning child vaccination
Is there a special health care service for woman?
You can get a yearly preventive check-up for cervical and breast cancer at the gynecologist (in German: Frauenarzt/Frauenärztin). The gynecologist is the adequate consultant for any health issue related to sexual evolvement, birth control, pregnancy and other similar matters. There are male and female gynecologists. There might occur long waiting times for an appointment at a gynecologist contractually partnered with your health insurance.
Pregnancy and birth
The health care organization only settles the costs of the childbirth, if the woman has entered Austria at least 8 weeks before the expected date of birth or enters Austria not before the birth. Otherwise it is possible that the costs of the birth have to be borne by the parents themselves.
Is there a special treatment if increased care is needed?
In the Basic Care systems of the federal provinces there are various possibilities of health care with increased care needed. In some federal provinces, asylum seekers are also cared for in regular special care facilities (see Special Reception Needs). “Increased care” for special needs must be requested by the asylum seeker. A prerequisite to receiving additional care is the submission of up-to-date specialist medical findings and assessments of need for care, as well as social reports not older than 3 months; these form part of the asylum seeker’s obligation to cooperate in the procedure. Reports from NGOs are also taken into account when examining the additional need for care.
More Information about special care.
Are there services particularly for traumatized persons and persons with torture experience?
In each federal province, one NGO provides treatment to victims of torture and traumatised asylum seekers. Among the biggest are Caritas www.caritas.at, Diakonie www.diakonie.at, and Hemayat http://www.hemayat.org/. In most cases psychotherapists work together with interpreters. However since demand of psychological treatment by far exceeds supply it can come to very long waiting times and unfortunately it is not possible to provide everyone who is in need of it with psychological treatment. Depending on the region and community you live in Austria offers of treatment (individual, group therapies), financial support of long term therapies etc may vary considerably. For detailed research of the local offers, information about psychological treatment, contact: Caritas, Diakonie, Hemayat…
The government provides a list of links of different associations offering consultation for refugees among others in psychosocial matters: https://www.help.gv.at/Portal.Node/hlpd/public/content/12/Seite.120218.html
Are there services particularly for HIV/Aids patients?
In terms of health services “Aidshilfe” is counselling and supporting HIV-infected patients. Aidshilfe also offers a free HIV-test. (https://www.aidshilfen.at/)
Are there services particularly for disabled persons?
The three most known organizations offering support for physically or mentally disabled persons are Caritas (www.caritas.at), Diakonie (www.diakonie.at) and Lebenshilfe (www.lebenshilfe.at). Apart from this there are other organizations operating on a regional level.
A list of links to organizations supporting disabled people:
Are there services particularly for persons with other sexual orientations?/LGBT people?
„Queer Base“operates as a contact point helping and supporting Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Trans*- and Inter- persons (LGBTIQ) who fled to Austria (www. Queerbase.at).
How is health insurance organized in Austria?
Basic Health insurance by law as part of the social insurance is a legal obligation in Austria. In other words, in case of sickness, accident at work or unemployment the social insurance system is taking over the costs of treatment, rehabilitation and for medicine.
Within the public insurance system in Austria, the health insurance providers are organized along territories and professional branches. As a consequence, the workers/employees don´t choose their public insurer themselves but location and profession of the employer are decisive for the health insurance providers. Most of the public insurance providers offer schemes for non-/unemployed persons in different life-phases (students, retired persons, family members etc.) so that a basic health service is accessible for all.
How can I find a doctor my health insurance covers for?
You and your family members can make use of general practice doctors, specialists or dentists, who have contract with the health insurance provider (=panel doctor). A register of the particular doctors will be on display at the health insurance provider. You can also go to a doctor and ask if he or she is has contract with your health insurance provider.
Are there any costs visiting a panel doctor?
A prescription charge of € 6,00 (2018) for each medication has to be paid.
In case of a hospital stay, every Patient has to pay between 12 and 19 € for each day he/she is staying.
What is the difference between health and accident insurance?
There is a distinction between
- Health insurance: The health insurance provider covers costs resulting from illness and inability to work resulting from illness or pregnancy. You have the right to claim treatment and care as well as financial compensation of salary in case of employment after 6 weeks (in the first 6 weeks of illness your employer keeps on paying the salary).
- Accident insurance: Covers accidents at work as well as occupational diseases.
Do I need supplementary private health care?
Beside the public insurance system there are also private health insurance systems available, which cover specific extra services, therapies and/or treatments. Usually basic health care services are covered by public insurance system and most people in Austria don’t have any supplementary health care. Only some people in Austria choose additional private insurance for extra services/treatments.
Supplementary health insurance offers services which go beyond mandatory health insurance, like single bed rooms at the hospital, free choice of doctors or treatments by alternative practitioners, additive services for dental prosthesis or stays at health resorts.
Sources, Further information & Links
AIDA Asylum Information Database. Health Care (English)
Amber Med Medical Care and Medication Assistance for people without insurance (English)
Main association of Austrian social insurance providers (English)
gv.at. Living and working in Austria (Ministry of social affairs/BMI)
Internationale Organisation für Migration Wien (2016): AUCO 2016.