When you think of Austria, you probably think of The Sound of Music, Mozart, Chocolate and snowy Alps. There is so much to do in Austria, from exploring historic castles and palaces to skiing some of the world's finest alpine slopes. Austria is one of the world's premier skiing regions; it is also noted for its historical buildings, world-class museums and galleries, and breathtaking mountain scenery.
The medical system in Austria is excellent yet expensive. There is an extensive network of hospitals and doctors covering even the remotest areas of the country. For tourists who come from a European Union country and who are in possession of a European Health Insurance Card, free basic healthcare is provided. If you are working in Austria, mandatory public health insurance is automatically deducted from an individual’s salary and there are different fee and payment scales. In general, basic healthcare and dental treatment in public hospitals are covered; medications as well as visits to specialists are also included under the mandatory scheme. Hospitals and physicians generally do not accept credit cards. Private healthcare and insurance is also available as an option for protecting your health in the country.
The healthcare system in Austria is comprised of both the compulsory state funded healthcare sector and a private healthcare sector. Under the public system, both employers and employees make equal contribution to the system on a monthly basis, which is deducted directly from their salary. The amount of contribution varies according to the magnitude of the job employed. In general, the public healthcare system includes basic health and dental treatment, specialist consultations for the stay in public hospitals, and medication is also covered. Family dependants are automatically covered through the insurance of the employed family member. The State pays for the care of vulnerable groups like the disabled.
For people who are entitled to public healthcare, the State will issue them with an e-card. This e-card system allows the Austrian Social Security system to monitor all health claims electronically. An individual is required to present the e-card when visiting the doctor. If an individual is covered by public healthcare and receives treatment from a private doctor or private hospital, he may be entitled to a partial refund of payment from the public insurance provider.
Austria has a network of state-maintained public and privately owned hospitals. The quality of hospital rooms vary according to the quality of an individual’s health insurance scheme. Privately insured patients normally will get a single or double room. State insured patients may have to share a room with two or three other people. Hospital fees are expensive in Austria. If you are not entitled to public healthcare, it is important to put in place a private insurance scheme, otherwise an individual will be required to make an out-of-pocket payment. In case of an emergency, although free treatment is provided to stabilise the condition, however, as soon as the patient is admitted into hospital, fees will be incurred, patient will have a choice to opt for the stay in public or private hospitals. Visitors and foreign workers may wish to take out expat health insurance to ensure all costs are covered.
A major challenge facing the Austrian healthcare system is the reduction in healthcare expenditure. Currently, the total healthcare expenditure as a % of GDP in Austria is about 9.9%, compared to 2005 at 10.3%. Comparatively, the healthcare expenditure in Austria is much lower than 15.3% in the USA. Moreover, the country is facing an increasingly in ageing population and high utilisation of in-patient care. The average life expectancy at birth for citizens of Austria is 79.5 years, about 20% of the population is over 60 years of age. Hospital bed capacities and utilisation in Austria are high, it is about 76 beds per 10,000 population compared to 32 per 10,000 population in the USA.