Access to healthcare is universal even though it does not imply coverage for all people for everything. Health insurance is mandatory. As a refugee, you will enjoy basic care for 4 months after recognition of your status. As such, you will be entitled to health insurance. This will also be the case if you are considered without resources and receive needs-oriented minimum basic benefits. As soon as you start to work, the mandatory health insurance takes effect.
You will be given a social insurance card called E-Card which shows your social insurance number and date of birth. It is recommended you always carry this card with you.
Access to psychological therapy of traumatised refugees is possible as a transitional measure when the therapy was already begun during the asylum procedure. Other costs of psychological therapy are only partly covered by health insurances.
How can I access healthcare?
In case of illness, contact a general practitioner in your neighbourhood. General practitioners are your initial point of contact regarding your health; they carry out general examinations, also offer simple blood tests, heart examinations, physiotherapy, etc. You can find one of them online (ww.aerztesuche.at). There are only a few General Practitioners who speak Arabic, Farsi or English themselves, thus you should take an interpreter or another person for translation with you.
If necessary, the General Practitioner will send you to a specialist or to the hospital.
Before seeing your doctor for the very first time, you should clarify whether it is a private doctor or a doctor working with your social security institution in order to avoid extra fees.
Your initial medical examination will be conducted after your admission to a reception centre within 24 hours. That general examination is made through a physical examination including vital signs, skin lesions, injuries and diseases including Tuberculosis. You will be obliged to undergo this examination. If circumstances which require further examinationa become known, you will be transferred to specialist doctors or a hospital.
Every person in Austria aged 18 and over is entitled to a free medical check-up once a year.
Normally, you do not need to make an appointment with your general practitioner, however you may have to wait for some time for this check-up. Before visiting a doctor for the first time, call to make sure they accept new patients.
Always have your social security card (e-card) with you when visiting a doctor or staying at a hospital.
Doctors on call service can be reached Monday to Friday from 7 pm to 7 am, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays around the clock on the Austria-wide number 141. In emergencies call the ambulance on the Austria-wide number 144.
It takes you, free of charge, to the nearest hospital.
Other emergency numbers are:
- Police: 133
- Fire department: 122
- Women emergency number: 0800 222 555
- European emergency call: 112
These numbers are free of charge. They should be called only in case of emergency. Misuse is expensive, as you would be charged for the inconvenience. You can call them also from mobile phones without a sim-card.
Appointments at specialists might have to be made well in advance as there are long waiting lists for specialists.
Some treatments won´t be covered at all or not to full extent by the health care organization. Dental implants in particular, won´t be paid by the health insurance and are quite expensive.
There are several services dedicated to providing health assistance specifically to migrants, such as the women’s health centre ‘FEM Süd Gesundheitszentrum’ at Kaiser Franz Josef Hospital in Vienna, which offers consultations in several languages.
NGOs like “Diakonie” offer among other services, trauma-specific, culturally sensitive and interpreter-assisted psychotherapeutic treatments to refugees having experienced violence, war, torture and rape
Expectant mothers are entitled to get free counselling by a midwife for one hour between the 18th and the 22nd week of pregnancy within the framework of the mother-child-booklet.
The mother-child-booklet serves as a health provision for pregnant women and infants. It includes the medical check-ups during pregnancy and until the 5th year of life of the child. All mandatory check-ups are important for both mother and child. You will need to take them all, otherwise your childcare allowance will be shortened.
Where can I get medicine?
Medicines are available at pharmacies, hospital pharmacies and occasionally at general practitioners.
Each city has several pharmacies that work every day 00-24 hrs, in case of emergencies.
Prescription medicines are obtained at pharmacies for €6 per prescribed item.
Patient’s annual medication costs are limited to a maximum of two percent of their net income. When the medication costs exceed this amount then the patient is automatically exempt from prescription fees. Persons with low income can apply for exemption from prescription fees meaning that they no longer have to pay any prescription fees for the required prescription medicines.
How can I find a doctor?
The Austrian Medical Association or your provincial medical association offer listings of medical doctors by district, speciality field, sex, opening hours and foreign language skills, etc. www.aerztekammer.at
You can also use the telephone and online directories to find a doctor’s address. In smaller towns you can ask at the municipal office or city hall, or at the pharmacies whether they know any medical doctors practicing in the town.
Make sure the doctors you pick are in contract with your health insurance (panel doctor); otherwise you have to come up for the costs and only part or none of the costs will be reimbursed by your health insurance.
Basic health insurance is compulsory for all.
Social insurance in Austria is composed of health, pension and accident insurance. Your e-card will be your social insurance ID for all administrative services.
Insurance contributions are calculated on the basis of a person’s income. Social insurance contributions are deducted by the employer and paid over to the local tax office. Employers are also responsible for registering their employees with the relevant social insurance office.
Spouses/partners with children can be co-insured free of charge.
As a general rule, health care only covers treatments that are necessary from a medical point of view, but it will not cover treatments that are for aesthetic reasons. In case of uncertainty ask at the reception of the practitioner if you need a referral of your General Practitioner.