Discover everything you need to know about visiting the doctor in Austria, so you can find the right care for you and your family.
Locating a doctor in Austria is hopefully not the first thing you will need to figure out upon relocating to the country. However, it is important to know how the healthcare system works as well as your private health insurance options. It’s also useful to know about local dental care to look after your pearly whites. You might also want to look into physical therapy or alternative medicine options, too. Knowing your sexual health, women’s healthcare, children’s healthcare, and mental healthcare options can also put the mind at ease when you need to access them.
To help you get to grips with how to find and see doctors in Austria, this helpful guide provides the following information:
- Doctors in Austria
- Who can access doctors in Austria?
- Finding a doctor in Austria
- Registering with a doctor in Austria
- Making an appointment with a doctor in Austria
- What to expect when visiting a doctor in Austria
- Medical specialists in Austria
- Cost of doctors in Austria
- Health insurance in Austria
- Private doctors in Austria
- Doctor prescriptions in Austria
- Medical tests in Austria
- Emergency doctors in Austria
- Making a complaint about doctors in Austria
- Useful Austrian medical phrases
- Useful resources
COVID-19 in Austria
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Many expats find themselves separated from family and loved ones in their home countries. As a foreigner, it is also sometimes difficult to find critical information regarding coronavirus infection rates, local measures, and restrictions, and now, thankfully, vaccinations.
For general coronavirus health information in Austria, including vaccination schedules and the latest government restrictions, consult our guide to the COVID-19 pandemic in Austria.
Doctors in Austria
Luckily for expats, Austria is recognized around the globe for its highly skilled doctors. In fact, the country boasts one of the best reputations in the world for its healthcare system, and doctors in Austria are the cream of the crop. Furthermore, Austria has the second-highest density of practicing physicians in the European Union after Greece.
Moreover, the density of doctors in Austria has increased in the past two decades, mostly with growth in the specialist sector. As of 2018, there are 46,300 physicians working in the country.
As Austria is a hotspot for winter sports, orthopedics and sports injury practices have also developed over the years. Impressively, Austria boasts some of the highest cancer survival rates in the EU.
In a nutshell, there is a dual system of medical training in Austria. Firstly, students must undertake a six-year medicine degree. They can study at one of three public universities and one private university. This includes the Medical University of Vienna, one of the most prestigious in the world. Secondly, doctors have to undergo three years of practical training in order to work as a GP. It takes another six years to train in a medical specialty.
Generally speaking, doctors in Austria have their own medical practices. However, they might also work in hospitals. Normal hours and appointment times can vary considerably from clinic to clinic. Often times, surgeries are open every morning, but not always in the afternoons. One important thing to note is that it is not usual for clinics to be open on weekends.
Who can access doctors in Austria?
Essentially, everyone in Austria has access to medical care. When you become a resident, you’ll receive your health insurance card. This e-card, along with a photo ID, is all you need for medical appointments.
Tourists and visitors may also access doctors in Austria. You will pay at the clinic and submit your receipt to your insurance company later. A routine doctor’s visit will cost anything between €50 and €100, however, this varies depending on the region. It’s important to note that serious injuries, such as ski accidents, will be incredibly expensive without travel insurance. Therefore, it is advisable to get covered before you leave for your trip. Companies like World Nomads offer simple and flexible travel insurance policies that you can buy at home or on the road; so, it’s worth looking into.
Finding a doctor in Austria
You can find a doctor through the Medical Association for Vienna. This comprehensive site provides information on doctors in all regions of the country as well as different medical subsections. Fortunately, in Austria, you can choose any doctor you wish to see.
Bookimed also provides details of doctors listed by their specialties, as well as some information on their backgrounds.
Finding English-speaking doctors in Austria
Generally, most doctors in Austria are proficient in English. However, you can search specifically for an English-speaking (or another foreign language) doctor at Praxisplan. Fortunately, this site also filters doctors by specialties and all-round services. In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Austria provides a list of English speaking doctors in Vienna.
Registering with a doctor in Austria
Once you’ve found a general practitioner in your area, you can book an appointment to have a check-up. This way you can set yourself, and your family, up and establish a relationship with your doctor. It isn’t necessary to register in advance in this way, but you may find it a comfort for when you do need to see a doctor. When you go to the doctor’s office, you’ll need to take the e-card and photo ID for each member of your family you are registering.
Making an appointment with a doctor in Austria
You can easily make an appointment to see a doctor in Austria with a quick phone call to the individual clinic. However, it’s important to be aware that certain specialists may require a referral from your GP. You can also book appointments online using the free service, Doctena.
Although the standard of healthcare in Austria is high, the wait times may be long. Generally, you can expect to wait up to four days to see a GP and several weeks to see a specialist. Once you’ve arrived at your appointment, the wait time can vary. However, on average, you can expect to wait between 10 and 20 minutes.
What to expect when visiting a doctor in Austria
Ensure you bring your e-card (health insurance) card with you when you visit any doctor in Austria. You should also bring along a photo ID. In the first instance, for non-emergency assistance, there is a handy healthcare phone number you can call – 1450. The hotline provides trained nursing staff to advise callers on their health concerns. The staff is also versed in recommending the appropriate clinic or hospital to visit or, if needed, which specialist to contact.
Additionally, most cities and counties run a service called the Ärztefunkdienst (medical radio service). Remarkably, this is where GPs make housecalls for those who cannot make it to a clinic. The radio service is available in the evenings from 19:00 to 07:00 during the week and all hours on the weekend. You can access the service through the emergency number – 141. As with most healthcare issues in Austria, the costs are generally covered by health insurance for emergency situations.
Medical specialists in Austria
Austria is known for its highly-qualified medical professionals across all disciplines. Furthermore, doctors in specialized fields are abundant throughout the country. As a result, the full spectrum of modern medicine is accessible and nearly all diseases can be treated.
However, wait times can be weeks long. As a result, appointments should generally be made in advance. For dentists, eye doctors, and gynecologists, you can easily make an appointment directly. For other specialties, you’ll likely need a referral from your GP. If you prefer not to get a referral from your GP, companies like Austrian Health can help with recommendations for the right medical specialists for you.
Most physicians in Austria hold their own medical practice, and may also work within a hospital as well. Generally speaking, all doctors hold contracts with state health insurance. Therefore, nearly all of Austria’s residents are entitled to treatment without additional fees.
Cost of doctors in Austria
Put simply, doctor’s fees will be covered by your insurance and taken directly from your wages. To this end, you do not need to pay any medical costs upfront. However, if you visit a private doctor without private insurance, this will incur fees as seen below.
Health insurance in Austria
In essence, everyone in Austria has access to hospital treatment. Working residents in Austria are automatically issued an e-card (health insurance card). This grants you access to medical services without needing to pay in advance. You can also purchase private healthcare insurance if you wish to ensure higher levels of comfort or prevent potential inconveniences. There are many private health insurance providers in Austria, all of which regulated by the Financial Market Authority.
The leading groups are Allianz Care and Cigna Global. Both offer a range of plans to suit all people and situations. Generally, the older you are the more you will pay. For example, a plan for children below 18 could cost around €30 per month. However, the same plan for someone above 65 may cost as much as €450 to €500 per month. Additional factors include both gender and pre-existing conditions.
Private doctors in Austria
Austria’s public healthcare system is comprehensive and covers all health care needs. This includes treatment in public hospitals and medication. It also includes basic dental services and even some specialist consultations.
As a result, it is rare for Austrians to use private doctors given the high standard of care in public clinics. But, of course, you have the option to purchase supplementary private insurance. Paying for a private doctor may offer a lower wait time for patients. You may also have increased levels of privacy and comfort during your treatment.
That said, the publicly insured can also consult private doctors. They simply need to pay the difference in the cost of the visit, which, for a short visit to a private doctor, can range from between €50 and €100. Those already holding a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may use it in Austria.
Doctor prescriptions in Austria
In Austria, you may fill your prescription at any Apotheke (pharmacy). Confusingly, Drogeries (drugstores) only sell toiletries. Typically, there is a small fee of around €5 for prescriptions and the rest is covered by insurance. However, you may need a prescription for some medications that are available over the counter in other countries. This includes antibiotics and high strength painkillers.
Unlike in many other countries, doctors in Austria are known for their hesitancy in prescribing antibiotics. Therefore, you are not likely to get a prescription for antibiotics unless it is absolutely necessary.
Generally, most pharmacies are open from 9:00 to 17:00 during the week. Some will also open on Saturday mornings. Most major cities in Austria have 24-hour pharmacies as well.
It’s essential to note that if you’re bringing prescription medication into Austria, you’ll need an explanation letter from your doctor. Asking your doctor to fill in this form will help. Also, make sure to leave the medication in its original packaging. You should also check that your medication isn’t banned in Austria. You are allowed to bring up to a five-day supply with you. However, you may also bring a ‘cross-border prescription’ from your doctor to fill for up to thirty days in Austria.
Importantly, the Austrian Federal Ministry provides information about restricted medications as well as herbal treatments in Austria. Medicinal marijuana is legal in the country, however, doctors do not prescribe it. Additionally, CBD products are prohibited except in the cases of children with epilepsy.
Medical tests in Austria
As part of preventative care in Austria, everyone over 18 gets an optional annual check-up. This includes a blood test, urine test, fecal occult blood test, body fat analysis, pulmonary function test, electrocardiogram (ECG), physical examination, blood pressure, ear, nose, and throat examination including a hearing test, gynecological examination and pap smear test for women, and cardiac stress test.
The health check is performed by your GP or at one of the day clinics run by public health services. The check-up is over two dates; the first for your blood and urine work, and the following for the other examinations. Your doctor will discuss your results and any recommendations on the second date. You can take all results home with you then.
Emergency doctors in Austria
In general, emergency response times across Austria are good. Paramedics speak German, principally. English is also widely spoken throughout the country.
Everyone in Austria is entitled to emergency medical care. This includes tourists and other visitors. You may receive treatment whether you have insurance or not.
In the event of a medical emergency, you should call:
- 144 – ambulance
- 141 – emergency medical service
- 112 – European emergency number
Making a complaint about doctors in Austria
If you have an incident with a doctor, The Austrian Ombudsman Board (AOB) is your first port of call. No matter where you are from, your age, or whether you actually reside in Austria, The AOB will handle any complaints. Subsequently, they will review and assess the complaint and decide whether to investigate it further.
It’s important to note that there are no costs involved in lodging a complaint. A complaint should clearly mark out the issue and the authority the complaint is concerning. The electronic complaint form clearly marks the necessary information.
It is also easy to reach the AOB by telephone on the free service number 0800/223 223 on weekdays from 8:00 to 16:00. Additionally, you can email [email protected].
The AOB also holds consultation days and you must register in advance. It’s important to note that investigative proceedings are conducted in German.
Useful Austrian medical phrases
As German is the official language of Austria, here are some basic German medical terms that may come in handy if you fall under the weather:
- die Praxis – doctor’s office
- der Termin – appointment
- Ich habe Fieber – I have a fever
- das Thermometer – thermometer
- schmerz – pain
- Kopfschmerz means “headache,” Bauchschmerz means “stomachache”, and Ruckenschmerz means “back pain”
- der Schnupfen/die Erkältung – a cold
- die Verschreibung/das Rezept – prescription
- das schleimlösende Mittel – decongestant
- das Schmerzmittel – painkiller