Austria has a two-tier health care system in which virtually all individuals receive publicly funded care, but they also have the option to purchase supplementary private health insurance. Hauptverband der Österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger is responsible for all of the Austrian insurance funds. 99% of Austria’s inhabitants are covered under local medical insurance (Gebietskrankenkassen) in all nine federal states. Health insurance is part of the Social Security Insurance System. Depending on the type of employment you have, the fee and payment scales can very greatly. Though the social security system also includes pension, accident and unemployment insurances. Basic healthcare in public hospitals and medication are covered in the majority of cases, as well as visits at specialists.
What happens if you need to see a doctor?
If you need to see a doctor, you should make an appointment at the doctor’s office of your choice. Waiting times can be very long. There you will need your e-card (a smart card) which is not only an electronic health insurance voucher bun can also be used as Citizen Card. The costs for your visit depend on the doctor you choose and the insurance you have. Panel doctors (SHI-accredited doctors) offset the costs of the visit with health insurance. If you choose a non SHI-accredited doctor, you can get reimbursed for parts of the bill from your health insurance. Private doctors do not have contracts with health insurances so you would be fully charged for the costs.
Most of the medication in Austria is only available on prescription, which you get from a doctor. If you go to the pharmacy to get your medication you have to pay for the prescription charge (5,70 Euro since 2016). In any other cases you need a head physician’s approval of your health insurance. If the medication is available without prescription you have to pay the whole price out of your pocket.
Who decides what a doctor can prescribe?
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is responsible for the scientific evaluation of medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies for use in the European Union. The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety is also a medical regulatory body in Austria.
Practically, what is it like with type 1 diabetes in Austria?
Nearly all necessary medical supplies like blood glucose strips, syringes, insulin and insulin pumps are payed by the health insurances. However, CGM devices are only paid if there is a specific reason, for example regularly occuring hypos.
Appointments with your diabetes specialist (normally at a local hospital) are completely free and tend to be every 4-6 months for an adult. You will get your HbA1c test as well as talk about your blood sugar, therapy, etc. You should also have access to a dietician and psychological support.
What about getting admitted to hospital?
In case of a medical emergency you have to remember two important numbers: 144 (Ambulance) and 112 (EuropeanMobileEmergency). Both numbers are free of charge - you can even call without a SimCard. Medical service in case of an emergency is free. You do not have worry about insurance issues in an emergency; you can just head directly to your nearest emergency room. Under Austrian law, every health organization is required to treat patients in an emergency situation regardless of which insurance status they have.
If you need tests or are admitted to a public hospital the costs depend on which health insurance you have and how long you have to stay. Basically you have to pay between 12 to 19 Euro per day (including food). If you have to stay more than 28 days in a year, it is completely free after the 28th day.
How does diabetes care very throughout the country?
While everyone receives insulin for free, not everyone can get an Insulin Pump or a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). Additionally, test strips are often limited by doctors who cannot prescribe more than 600 strips per quarter.
Thanks to our Global Advocate Anna Pintsuk for providing this useful information about Austria.