Shortly after I moved to Vienna, a group of us sat around in an apartment agonising over one hefty document that claimed to tell us everything we needed to know about insurance. After an hour of pointing and reading and interrupting and arguing, I still came away utterly bamboozled. The following would have helped:
Austria has a national insurance programme, which covers health, pension, and accident insurance. If you’re working for a local organisation, you’ll automatically be registered for this mandatory insurance. National insurance has the distinct advantage of having no maximum pay-out, and you won’t be kicked out of the insurance programme if you develop a particular medical condition. However, it can be conservative when it comes to alternative treatments, such as chiropractors (it will only pay osteopaths, who are also medical doctors), and psychological or psychiatric treatment.
Some international organisations have their own private insurance programmes. If you are a private insurance customer, it pays to check carefully what you’re covered for – you may actually have to pay for a percentage of your medical treatment. It’s also worth checking whether your insurance covers burnout, or your own sports injuries; if you bowl into someone on the ski slope and break their legs, it’s good to know if you’ll be covered.
What if I’m self-employed?
If you’re self-employed, you can register for state insurance at a branch of the WGKK (Wiener Gebietskrankenkasse), the regional health insurance fund, or the SVA der gewerblichen Wirtschaft. However, because you don’t have an employer to contribute, you pay the whole fee yourself – and it’s pretty steep at €369.72 a month. If you can prove your income is especially low, or you have pressing family circumstances, you can apply to have the premium reduced. If you’re a student, you get the same service for €51.55 a month.
Self-employed people can also opt for private insurance – but again, it pays to check what you’re covered for.
Living without insurance
If you’re here illegally or don’t have insurance, medical help is still available if you need it. For a start, ambulance staff will take care of you. If it’s a life-threatening situation, any clinic has to treat you. If it’s not life-threatening, there will be a clinic in Vienna that will treat you – it may not be the exact one you wander into, but you will be taken care of.
For further questions – such as regarding co-insurance – you can contact the Expat Center. They’re very friendly and they have even more answers.
1., Schmerlingplatz 3,
More information in English:
WGKK -Wiener Gebietskrankenkasse
SVA der gewerblichen Wirtschaft
Free health care is available at the following places:
Ambermed: free clinic courtesy of the Red Cross, www.ambermed.at
Barmherzige Brüder: fully equipped hospital in the 2nd district
Luise-Bus: mobile treatment bus courtesy of Caritas charity and has been cited as an excellent resource for the homeless