You obtain information about medical care from the Österreichische Ärztekammer, Austrian Doctor's Chambers website, which also features an online guide in English. A great deal of useful information about healthcare and medical care in Austria can also be found on Austria´s health portal, in German. This health portal also provides information on cross-border healthcare in German and English.
Find a doctor (Vertragsarzt) who has a contract with one of Austria´s regional health insurance fund (Gebietskrankenkasse). You can find contact information of doctors through the above-mentioned guide. These doctors or dentists usually display a sign saying “Kassenarzt” (contracted doctor) or “Alle Kassen”, indicating they operate under the state system.
Present your European Health Insurance Card and ID at the appointment. You should receive treatment free of charge, as the local health insurance fund will reimburse your costs directly to the place of treatment, except possible patient’s contribution.
If you go to a private doctor who does not have a contract with health insurance fund, you will have to pay for treatment at the doctor office yourself. You can, however, obtain a partial reimbursement of treatment costs. Keep all receipts and apply for reimbursement either from the local health insurance fund or from Kela afterwards.
Only a limited range of dental treatment is available under the Austrian public healthcare system. Dental costs are reimbursed in cases of necessary treatment. Find a dentist (Zahnarzt) that is contracted to one of the health insurance funds. Show your European Health Insurance Card and ID. You will then receive certain treatment procedures either at a partially reduced rate or free of charge. You can also see a private dentist, but you must then pay for treatment at the appointment yourself first. On the basis of receipts, you can claim reimbursement afterwards from the local health insurance fund in the same way and on the same basis as for a visit to a general practitioner. In private treatment, the share you must pay depends on the prices of the doctor you choose.
A doctor that is contracted to one of the health insurance funds will prescribe medicines using a prescription entitling to reimbursement (Kassenrezept). When you go to collect your prescription medicines from a pharmacy, show your European Health Insurance Card and ID. You will get the medicines at a standard rate, i.e. for medicine you will pay a prescripton fee of €5740 (year 2016). If the original price of the medicine is lower than €5.70, you pay the equivalent of the original price.
If you have a prescription written by a private doctor (Privatrezept), you may have it accepted as a prescription entitling to reimbursements (Kassenrezept) either by a pharmacy or a regional health insurance fund, depending on the medicine. You always pay the full price of medicines collected with a private doctor´s prescription. Keep all pharmacy receipts anyway. You may be able to obtain a partial reimbursement from the local health insurance fund.
You can access hospital treatment with a general practitioner´s or specialist’s referral. If a doctor decides to send you to hospital for treatment, you will be given a voucher which entitles you to treatment at the co-payment rate. The doctor will recommend you a public hospital, as these have a contract with the regional health fund (Landesgesundheitsfonds). At the hospital, you will then pay in the general fee class (die allgemeine Gebührenklasse) approximately €11.60–19.40 per day, for a maximum of 28 calendar days a year. The amount of the co-payment varies slightly between Austria´s states.
In an emergency, you can also go directly to a public hospital´s emergency department. Show your European Health Insurance Card and ID and ask the hospital to check with the health insurance fund that your (general level) medical costs will be covered.
There are also private hospitals in Austria. If you are seeking treatment on your own initiative at a private hospital or you are sent, for example, in an emergency to one, you must pay the costs yourself first.
Emergency ambulance transport is usually free of charge, except rescue transports on the mountain regions in case of sports and leisure injuries. In this case patient is usually responsible for the costs of rescue transport by himself.
If you have to pay all costs yourself
If you have to pay the full price for treatment at a local public healthcare unit for which you would have been entitled to reimbursement with a European Health Insurance Card, you can apply for reimbursement retrospectively. You can apply for reimbursement either from the health insurance institution of the destination country or from Kela on form SV 128.
You can search for a healthcare service provider operating in Austria through the following search services:
- Service Suche service provider finder, which lists by area all doctors, pharmacies, dentists, hospitals rehabilitation facilities and other healthcare service providers in Austria
- Spitalskompass hospital finder, which has information about all public and private hospitals (contact information, information on ambulance services, data on numbers of treatments and procedures, etc.) in Austria
- Rehakompass rehabilitation service finder
The majority of the finder services are in German. If necessary, you can request assistance from the National Contact Point of Austria in finding a place of treatment or in interpreting the information in German.
Admittance practices in Austria vary widely. Hospital outpatient clinics often accept patients without a doctor´s referral. In recent years, however, a referral has been required by hospitals more frequently. The same applies to appointments with specialists. It is a good idea to ask the treatment provider in advance about what their practice is.
Costs of treatment
Private healthcare service providers set their own prices. A price comparison chart is not available, therefore you should ask the place of treatment directly. You can also ask about prices for medical care directly from hospitals.
Practices vary in how treatment costs are calculated. Hospitals that receive public funding treat foreign patients only against immediate payment. Payment must be made before receiving treatment in cash or by credit card. Private hospitals and other treatment providers may operate in a different way, and in many cases payment can be made afterwards by invoice. You should check the payment practice with the place of treatment in advance.
Quality and safety of treatment
The Ministry of Health of Austria distributes information about the standards of the quality of treatment provided by hospitals. The Ministry of Health of Austria website lists in German the statutory quality standards and other information concerning quality assurance. The standards apply to all healthcare service providers who, if requested by a patient or another party, are obliged to show that they fulfil the standards in question.
You can also find more information about quality standards for practioners from the Österreichische Ärztekammer, Austrian Doctor's Chambers website in German.