Healthcare in Austria
Austria does not have a national health services (NHS) like in some other EU countries. Instead their health services is organised by region with regional authorities (Gebietskrankenkasse – GKK). The GKK list contains a list of these regions and their relevant authorities, including contact details.
Your EHIC does not cover private treatment, so make sure you are treated by a provider who has a contract with one of the GKK regional health insurance offices as their services are free. Doctors usually display a sign saying “Kassenarzt” (contracted doctor) or “Alle Kassen”, which means they operate under the state system.
You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.
Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund or reimbursement.
If you move to Austria long-term or plan to work in the country, you’ll need to be registered with one of the public health insurance providers. Nearly all employees in Austria pay into the social security system and are therefore covered by health insurance, which is mandatory.
It is usually the employer who is responsible for registering employees with a health insurance organisation. The provider you are registered with depends on the status of your employer and its location. For more information, see this list of Austrian health insurance organisations.
Once you are paying into the Austrian social security system and you have been registered with the relevant health insurance provider, you will receive your social insurance card, the e-card. You should always bring this card with you when visiting a doctor. For information, visit the Austrian Social Security website.
Dentists are called Zahnärzte in Austria. If you need dental treatment during your stay because of illness or an accident, you’ll have to present a valid EHIC or your e-card to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident. Only a limited range of dental treatment is available under the Austrian state healthcare system. Make sure you see a dentist that is contracted to one of the public health insurance funds. For more details, visit the dental health section on the Austrian Social Security website.
Hospitals are called Krankenhäuser in Austria. Just like in the UK, you’ll need a doctor’s referral for non-emergency hospital treatment. When you’re admitted to hospital, you’ll need to present either a valid EHIC or e-card to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident.
Standard treatment is free of charge if the hospital has a contract with the “Landesgesundheitsfonds” (such as university hospitals or regional hospitals). There is a daily charge (currently €11.60-19.40) for the first 28 days in hospital. You will be charged if you are treated by a private hospital.
Pharmacies are called Apotheken in Austria. You can get prescribed medicines from any pharmacy, which will be charged at a standard prescription rate (currently €5.40). You can search for local pharmacies, including pharmacies open at night or on bank holidays, on the Österreichische Apothekenkammer website (in German only).
You can search for local doctors, pharmacists, dentists, hospitals and other healthcare providers on the Austrian government health website (German only). The information provided includes whether or not the service is covered by public health insurance.
If you find yourself in an emergency during your stay in Austria, dial 144 or 112.
Other important numbers to note down:
112 – euro emergency
144 – rescue (rettung)
133 – police (polizei)
122 – fire department (feuerwehr)
Deaf Emergency: by fax or SMS to 0800 133 133 (Gehörlosen-Notruf)
The official language of Austria is German. Emergency calls are answered in German first, but in large tourist areas you’ll also find English speaking operators. If possible, have a local person assist you with your call.