Expats moving to Austria can rest assured knowing that they will be moving to a country with one of the best healthcare systems in Europe. 

Expats in the country will be entitled to public healthcare as a result of contributions made through their taxes. Owing to the excellent standard of public healthcare in Austria, most people do not invest in private health insurance policies. However, those who have private health insurance as part of their employment package will have access to a greater number of services and shorter waiting times.

Public healthcare in Austria

The healthcare system in Austria provides free access to basic healthcare to all citizens and residents of Austria, as well as tourists and those staying in the country on a temporary basis. Basic healthcare in Austria includes treatment in public hospitals, medication, basic dental care and some specialist consultations. EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

Public health insurance

Expats working in Austria are required to pay into a health insurance scheme, which goes into a larger social security system. The system covers the contributor as well as their family for health, accident or pension insurance. The amount an individual has to pay is determined by their salary level, with health insurance, accident insurance and pension insurance all taking up a percentage of an individual's salary. The employer is also obliged to make a contribution.

Electronic health services, also known as E-services, form an important part of Austria's healthcare system. To access E-services, expats will be issued with an E-card upon registration. Through the E-card, the Austrian government processes healthcare claims electronically, significantly reducing queues, backlogs and bureaucracy. In addition, E-cards contain important information such as health records and prescribed medications.

Like most other state-funded healthcare systems, patients with E-cards can only consult medical professionals with which the state has a partnership. However, this is not limited to public healthcare providers; about 50 percent of private-practice doctors and 75 percent of private-practice dentists have a contract with social services that covers e-Card holders for all costs.

Healthcare providers who do not have any such contract are known as elective doctors. Though patients will have to pay to see elective doctors, 80 percent of the fee is reimbursed by social health insurance.

Private healthcare in Austria

Private health insurance in Austria is generally used to complement the public health services supplied by the state. Private insurance tends to either cover hospital costs or daily benefits, depending on the insurance plan preferred. Private insurance allows members easier access to elective doctors and medical professionals as well as smaller wards in state and private hospitals.

Pharmacies and medicines in Austria

Pharmacies, or Apotheke as they are known locally, are easily found in all towns and cities in Austria. 

The majority of the costs of prescription medicines are covered by the state health insurance programme apart from a small prescription fee in some cases. Those with private health insurance will need to pay for their drugs and then send the receipts to the company for reimbursement. 

Pharmacies in Austria are open from 8am to 6pm from Monday to Friday and 8am to 12pm on Saturdays. Pharmacies within a particular area will be open on Sundays according to a rotating schedule. There are also a few 24-hour pharmacies, which are useful if medication is unexpectedly needed after-hours. 

Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations for Austria

No special vaccinations are required for expats moving to Austria. However, routine vaccinations such as those for measles, mumps and rubella, tetanus and polio should be kept up to date.

Emergency services in Austria

In the event of a medical emergency, expats can dial any of the following numbers:

  • 144 (ambulance)
  • 141 (emergency medical service)
  • 112 (European emergency number)

Local authorities in Austria are responsible for the provision of emergency services, which means that standards of emergency medical services vary slightly across the country. Nevertheless, response times throughout Austria are generally excellent. Paramedics generally speak German, but some may also speak English.