Social security in Austria
The umbrella organisation for the Austrian social security system is the Hauptverband der Sozialversicherungsträger (SV). The following social insurance institutions are affiliated to this central body: Allgemeine Unfallversicherung, Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (previously: Krankenkasse), Sozialversicherungsanstalt der Selbständigen (SVS), Pensionsversicherungsanstalt (PVA), and Versicherungsanstalt öffentlich Bediensteter, Eisenbahnen und Bergbau (BVAEB).
Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (ÖGK)
The ÖGK, a product of the 2020 merger of nine regional health insurance funds, is the largest social health insurance organisation in Austria, providing insurance for about 82 per cent of the population. The insurance provided covers health care services, i.e. medical and therapeutic care provided by accredited doctors and therapists, hospitals and ÖGK health centres, sickness benefits, dental services, medicines and therapeutic appliances, and childbirth benefits.
Health insurance in Austria is compulsory. Employees with an income above the marginal earnings threshold (currently € 500.91 per month) are automatically covered by a national health insurance scheme. It is your employer’s responsibility to register you for health insurance, and that must be done before or at the commencement of employment. A choice between the various health insurance funds is not possible; employees are assigned to the fund that is responsible for their type of employment and location. Your immediate family members are insured with you, but an application must be made for this family cover.
Of course everyone is free to take out additional private insurance, which many people do.
In addition to compulsory insurance, it is possible to take out private supplementary insurance with a company of your choice. In addition to Special Class insurance, which guarantees the free choice of hospital and doctor as well as more comfort in the event of hospitalisation, such as a two-bed room with shower, WC, TV and telephone, many insurers now also offer policies that cover additional costs for dentistry or costs for residential health cures and alternative therapies.
For patients to identify themselves at doctors’ surgeries and hospitals, the health insurance funds issue e-cards in credit card format, which must be presented whenever medical assistance is required. (If the e-card is not presented, the doctor may charge you for the treatment!)
An extremely high standard of medical care and treatment is available in the Tyrol. In addition to the Innsbruck University Clinics, the Tyrol has hospitals in all districts and a dense network of general practitioners and specialists.
If you are unwell, first consult a general practitioner. The doctor will provide treatment and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist for further clarification or therapy. If you have a specific problem, however, you can also go directly to a specialist or to a hospital outpatients’ department. Check the opening hours of the doctor’s surgery or outpatients’ department before you go and enquire whether you need to make an appointment.
In an emergency, call 144 for the ambulance service or go straight to a hospital. Another useful telephone number is the 24-hour emergency number of the Poison Control Centre of the General Hospital in Vienna: +43 1 406 43 43. The toll-free European emergency number 112 also applies in Austria, of course.
In Austria you are basically free to choose your own doctor. However, you should enquire whether the doctor you have chosen has a contract with your health insurance company (Vertragsarzt/Vertragsärztin) or not (i.e. Wahlarzt or Wahlärztin). In the latter case you initially pay the doctor’s fee yourself and are subsequently reimbursed for part of the costs by your health insurance company. There is also the limitation that you will only be reimbursed for the fees of one specialist in any one quarter. Physiotherapy must normally be approved by the health insurance company in advance. If you have a frequent need to consult non-contract doctors or therapists or have special therapy requirements, it may be worth taking out additional private health insurance.
Information about doctors, medical practices and on-call services in the Tyrol is available on the website of Ärztekammer Tirol. You can use their list to find doctors who speak your language by going to “Arztsuche - Filter für Ordinationen - Fremdsprachen”.
hospitals and clinics
Landeskrankenhaus Innsbruck is the Innsbruck University hospital and is managed by Tirol Kliniken GmbH. With about 1,600 beds it is one of the largest hospitals in Austria. Information on all hospitals belonging to Tirol Klinken GmbH can be found here.
In addition to the Tirol Kliniken GmbH, with its facilities in and around Innsbruck, a large number of hospitals, private clinics and therapy facilities are available in all districts of the Tyrol. An overview of these facilities and their details is provided here.
The Tyrol has a dense network of pharmacies in both urban and rural areas. A late-night and weekend rota system, with a qualified pharmacist in attendance, ensures round-the-clock advice and access to pharmaceuticals seven days a week. The Apothekerkammer (Chamber of Pharmacists) offers you a pharmacy search to help you find your nearest pharmacy and those with late-night or weekend opening.
Many pharmacies even deliver medications to the patient’s bedside if necessary and also offer various health checks (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, weight).
pregnancy and childbirth
If you have any questions concerning pregnancy and childbirth, especially with regard to the obligatory preventive medical check-ups within the framework of the Mutter-Kind-Pass (Mother-Child Passport), your entitlement to maternity leave, and maternity and parental leave allowances, as well as your right to protection against dismissal, we will be happy to provide you with the relevant information in a personal consultation and put you in touch with the relevant contacts and information centres.