Austria holds a leading position in international quality of life and healthcare rankings. Legislation defines that social insurance is compulsory and based on the principle of solidarity. Income-based social insurance payments are made in return for benefits, regardless of the amount contributed. Once personal insurance is secured, a wide range of doctors and hospitals become available. Welcome2Upper Austria organises on a regular basis info events about social security services.
The e-card is a smartcard that can be used to obtain services (for example medical treatment and hospital care) without payment in cash. Panel doc - tors invoice the services directly with the social insurance authority on presentation of the e-card. The rear side of the e-card is the European health insurance card, and this provides insurance during a temporary residence (for example, a holiday) in EU member states, the EEA region as well as Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegowina, Montenegro and Switzerland. It is recommended to check in advance whether medical facilities at your destination accept the e-card. If the e-card is not accepted, it may be necessary to make a payment and recover the costs from the social insurance authority in Austria. Costs up to a maxi - mum of 80 % of standard Austrian rates can be refunded. Private travel insurance can be taken out to fully cover these costs. For more information about the e-card, an overview of your health insurance rights and other details, please visit: www.sozialversicherung.at
An e-card is given to all insured persons and serves as proof of insurance. It must be presented at every visit to a healthcare facility. The yearly service charge for the card is deducted from the salary in November and is indicated on the payslip.
Social insurance, with its emphasis on solidarity, is an important component in holding society together in the welfare state of Austria.
The registration to the responsible social insurance authority is performed by the employer for non-self-employed workers. The employer also takes care of the monthly payment of mandatory contributions, which include contributions from both employer and employee. The latter are deducted directly from the gross salary and indicated on the pay slip.
Those covered by social insurance receive an e-card. By presenting this card, it is possible to receive medical services at panel doctors without advance payment, provided the person is covered by the insurance. Services covered by the social health insurance are divided into four groups:
Dental treatment by panel doctors is only free in certain cases. Children under 18 years of age could be entitled to free braces in cases of severe teeth or jaw misalignment. Ask your dentist or social insurance authority for details.
The contributions paid are used to finance retirement and to maintain the standard of living in old age. Pension entitlements are dependent upon the period of insurance, the calculation basis and age.
Pension entitlements are available to those who:
Contribution periods from the EU/EEA region, Switzerland and countries which have bilateral social insurance agreements with Austria are recognised in the pension entitlement. Agreements with other countries can be found here: Pension (oesterreich.gv.at)
The Pension Insurance Institution (Pensionsversicherungsanstalt or PVA), as the responsible authority, recommends that, where there are plans to retire in Austria, an application for the determination of insurance periods (Antrag auf Feststellung von Versicherungszeiten) should be submitted as soon as possible.
Contributions to unemployment insurance are used for the payment of unemployment benefit. Those receiving unemployment benefit have health insurance.
Requirements for receiving unemployment benefit while looking for work are:
Job seekers claiming unemployment benefit must have been in an occupation making unemployment insurance contributions for a certain period of time. Insurance periods in other countries can be taken into account where applicable. The application for unemployment benefit is submitted to the local AMS office.
The GP is a general doctor and first point of contact for illnesses and complaints of all kinds. GPs are free to choose from and many provide house calls in the local area if necessary.
Referral: After confirmation of the complaint, the GP refers the patient, if necessary, with a written referral (called ‘Überweisung’) to an appropriate specialist or a Hospital.
So-called panel doctors (called ‘Kassenärzte’ or ‘Vertragsärzte’), independent of specialization, have contracts with one or multiple insurance funds and bill treatment costs directly to them. There are no costs for patients, unless a deductible is payable. To find out if a doctor has a contract with a health insurance fund, access https://arztsuche.aekooe.at/finder/search/land/OO,SA
+ Direct billing to the health insurance fund (without deductible in most cases)
- Potentially longer waiting times due to the high demand (appointments, visits) if the complaint is not acute, or shorter doctor-patient sessions.
A doctor of one’s choice (known as ‘Wahlarzt’) does not have a contract with a health insurance fund and bills the treatment costs directly to their patients. Up to 80 % of the costs which a panel doctor would receive for the same services can be claimed back from the health insurance, provided all requirements are met. As there are many exemptions, the actual reimbursement from the health insurance fund is often only 20 % to 30 % of the list price for the treatment.
+ Prompt allocation of appointments/short waiting times
+ More time for discussing the diagnosis
- Treatment costs are to be paid by the patient, and only partly reimbursed
All patients are entitled to admission to the ‘standard class’ of care in a public hospital. Please note the days of admission (‘Aufnahmetage’) of the respective public hospitals in Linz
Aufnahmekalender | Kepler Universitätsklinikum (kepleruniklinikum.at)
State hospitals in rural areas, on the other hand, always allow admission.
Generally speaking, only small fees are to be paid for the standard class of care in public hospitals. Higher fees are payable for the special class of care or care in private hospitals if the patient does not have private insurance.
For every medication listed on a prescription from a panel doctor, a prescription fee is payable at the time of purchase at the pharmacy for each package. Medication can be obtained directly from some doctors or from a pharmacy.
In Austria, it is possible to co-insure family members. Socially insured workers can co-insure the following persons at no extra cost:
For them, co-insurance is not free of charge. Co-insured persons are entitled to the same services as the main insurance holder and receive their own e-card. The first point of contact for an application is the social insurance authority of the main insurance holder, for example the spouse.
It is advisable to contact the chosen hospital as soon as possible regarding childbirth. The Kepler University Hospital (Med Campus IV) in Linz is the largest maternity hospital in Austria and accepts all expectant mothers. Other hospitals with maternity wards accept patients according to free capacity at the planned due date. Depending on the hospital, it may be possible to visit and get familiar with the facilities in advance. Many hospitals also offer prenatal classes. It is also possible to give birth as an outpatient or at home, although this should be agreed in consultation with a gynaecologist.
The mother-child pass (Mutter-KindPass) records precautionary health checks for expectant mothers and young children. It includes programme of medical examinations during pregnancy and until the child’s fifth birthday: five check-ups before, and five after birth, which are all free of charge if performed by panel doctors. If any check-ups are missed, this has an effect on the childcare allowance received. The mother-child pass is issued by the gynaecologist and should be carried with you at all times. All medical examinations until just before childbirth are performed by the gynaecologist, at which point the chosen hospital takes over. Learn more about the mother-child pass here: Mutter-Kind-Pass (sozialministerium.at)
A list of all specialists in gynaecology, obstetrics and midwifery (Frauenheilkunde und Geburtshilfe), and pediatric and adolescent medicine (Kinder-und Jugendheilkunde) in Upper Austria can be found here: www.gesund-in-ooe.at/de/main-navigation/arztsuche.html
Get in touch with a local parent-child centre (Eltern-Kind-Zentrum) – they offer training, a meeting place, advice and support for parents and children from pregnancy to puberty, along with information about play groups: www.elternkindzentrum-ooe.at
The first administrative procedures after childbirth can be completed at the civil registry office (Standesamt) local to the place of birth, situated at the municipal authority in Linz, Wels and Steyr, or otherwise at the local authority. Many hospitals have their own ‘babypoint’, where various registry office services are offered.
Immediately after childbirth, a notification to issue a birth certificate is made. Normally this is made by the hospital where the baby was delivered.
This usually happens automatically after the birth has been registered at the relevant civil registry office. Whether the parents are married or not, the child is co-insured with the parents and receives its own e-card after the registration. To accelerate the process and avoid any questions, a short letter or call to the relevant social insurance authority is recommended.
Based on the standard legal requirement to register a place of residence, newborn children must be registered at the municipal or local authority. This can take place at the same time as the registration of birth. Normally, the child should be registered with the authorities within three days of returning home from the medical facility.
Newborn children require a right of residence according to the Settlement and Residence Act, just as their parents do. Parents from third countries who are legally settled in Austria must apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) within six months of childbirth. Children of citizens from the EU/EEA and Switzerland who benefit from freedom of movement must obtain a registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung) within four months after birth. The responsible settlement bodies are always the district or municipal authorities (Bezirkshauptmannschaft or Magistrat). A valid right of residence is a prerequisite for receiving childcare and family allowance.
Citizenship laws are based on nationality, therefore the rules of the country of origin must be considered. It is recommended to also apply for a passport when applying for citizenship.
Everyone should decide for themselves which insurance fits best. There are insurances for all walks of life and situations, such as burglary insurance or hail insurance. Some are legally required, others recommended or voluntary. As there is great variation in the insurance rates, it is advisable to compare different insurance types and companies first under www.durchblicker.at > Versicherungen
As indicated in the chapter Housing, household insurance may be compulsory. Even if this is not the case, household insurance is still highly recommended. It covers, among other things, damage caused by fire, glass breakage, acts of nature as well as damage to objects, such as furniture or electronic devices, and home burglaries. It also includes liability insurance.
The purchase of car liability insurance is a legal requirement in Austria. This should cover both third parties and the insured and prevent financial ruin. In the case of a traffic accident caused by the insured person, the insurance pays for material damage, personal injury and financial loss up to the agreed insurance limit. The insured person is liable for damages beyond this limit. Comprehensive insurance is optional and can be taken out to cover high repair costs, for example in the case of vandalism or bad weather with hail (according to the chosen insurance).
The purchase of legal expenses insurance is voluntary. It covers lawyers’ and expert fees as well as procedural costs in case of a legal dispute. Most legal expenses insurances cover a range of legal areas such as labour, contract and tort law. Nevertheless, even the most expensive insurance policy does not offer complete protection. Therefore, extra insurances like legal expenses insurance, patient protection insurance or legal insurance for cars might be of interest. Some areas may already be covered by other insurances, for instance personal liability insurance.
There are different types of life insurance to choose from. It can be used as a pension scheme, benefit for surviving dependants in the event of death, repayment tool, or it can serve as collateral for loans. Life insurance is taken out voluntarily and on a longterm basis.