Healthcare for Travellers to Austria

Austria is a year round destination for UK visitors, and whether you’re visiting to enjoy the ski slopes in January or cakes and coffee in summer, health insurance is the one thing you should never scrimp on. Austria has a world class healthcare system, but there are some important issues to be aware of should you need to access it, whether you are using your EHIC cover or privately arranged travel insurance.

Using your EHIC card in Austria

As with all other European Union countries, it’s important to remember that an EHIC card allows you to access Austrian public healthcare on the same basis as an Austrian citizen. Austria has a higher number of doctors and hospital beds per head of population than we do in the UK, but the private sector is larger. EHIC will not cover you for treatment in a private hospital or by a private doctor, so make sure you are clear about which sort of hospital you are being treated in. If visiting a family doctor, look for the “Kassenarzt” or “Alle Kassen” sign which tells you that the doctor falls under the public healthcare system. If you are visiting the large Austrian cities, you should not have too many difficulties finding a public doctor or accessing a public hospital, although many of the website information is in German only.

You will not be charged to see a public system doctor in Austria, but if you are admitted to a public hospital you will be charged a small daily rate of around 12 euros. This will not be waived if you have an EHIC. Expect to pay a flat fee for prescriptions too, at a rate lower than charged in England. You will not be able to buy medication such as antibiotics over the counter from a pharmacist without a prescription from a doctor. Emergency dental treatment may also be available, but you may be expected to contribute towards this. Most doctors, dentists and pharmacists will speak good English although a German phrasebook may be useful outside urban centres.

Medical Insurance for Austria

Although good public hospitals and doctors are widely available in towns and cities, the same cannot be said for some of the smaller ski resorts and rural areas. If you are taken to a private hospital for treatment, your EHIC card will not be accepted, and you will have to get authorisation from your travel insurance company or hand over your credit card before being treated. Remember too that if you are skiing or doing other winter sports, the EHIC will not cover expenses such as helicopter transfers to hospital or repatriation flights to get home should you be unable to travel on a scheduled flight. You may also be expected to pay an excess; this varies according to policy so make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully. The quality of treatment in a private hospital in Austria is no better than the public sector – it really all depends on what is available close by.