Health Insurance for Exchange Students in Vienna

First of all, the good news: Vienna, and Austria in general, is considered to be amongst the countries with the best health insurance coverage globally. Around 99% of citizens and residents are at least covered by basic healthcare. So you are moving to a place where getting sick or having an injury will not break your neck financially!

But how do you go about getting health insurance if you’re an incoming student? No worries, we have you covered here! Below you find the most important facts about Austrian health insurance:

Health Insurance – the Basics

Austria’s health service is -at least for the time being- organised by the nine countries, namely by the regional medical insurance companies (the Gebietskrankenkassen, GKK). Whose authority you fall under therefore depends on where you live or where the company you work for is registered.

Health insurance is mandatory for every person meeting one of the following criteria:

  • being employed (paid in employment)
  • being self-employed
  • claiming unemployment benefits
  • being a pensioner, a school -, or a university student
  • being dependent on a person belonging to either of these groups

Anyone entering into a paid employment or being paid by the state (benefits, pensions) will automatically be covered by health insurance. Employers register new employees with the relevant insurance office, who then will get issued a social insurance number (and card) once they are registered.

Insurance contributions are calculated according to a person’s income. Fees are deducted from the gross income and are automatically sent to the tax office by the employer.

Since 2005, all persons insured and their co-insured family members are issued the so-called e-card. This card verifies insurance coverage and will need to be produced at every doctor’s visit.

Additionally, anyone can choose to seek voluntary health insurance. This will provide you with further benefits (smaller, even private hospital rooms being a prime example).

Is Healthcare Insurance Mandatory?

Yes, health insurance is mandatory for any Austrian resident. The moment you stay in the country for longer than 6 months (or start renting a flat/house) you are considered a resident and will have to pay contributions for medical care to one of the local insurance institutions (Sozialversicherungsträger). You will then receive an e-card that will give you access to free healthcare when living in Austria. 

If your country of origin has a social insurance agreement with Austria, you will need to bring an A3 form for short stays (no longer than three month) and an A4 form for stays with a primary residents (Hauptwohnsitz).

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Being a holder of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) enables you to access state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost, sometimes even for free.

The card will cover costs of treatment for both acute and pre-existing/chronic illnesses. It also covers routine maternity care, provided that the main reason for visiting Austria isn’t to give birth.

If you are the holder of an EHIC, please make sure to check if the doctor you want to be seeing is operating under the state system as private health treatments are not covered by the card. A doctor who has a contract with the GKK, the regional health insurance office, typically states this on his door sign/website by using the signifiers “Kassenarzt” (contracted doctor) or “alle Kassen” (all insurers). You can, obviously, chose to visit a private doctor as well and pay the fee (typically ranging between 100 and 200€) from your own pocket.

It is worth noting that not all services provided by contracted doctors are completely free. A good example are dentists where some services are for free while others (certain types of fillings, etc.) will come at a cost. This cost is usually subsidised by the local health insurer, meaning that you may apply for (partial) refund.

Healthcare Insurance for Non-EU/EEA Citizens

If you are hailing from any country outside the EU/EEA area and are therefore not holders of the EHIC, it is mandatory for you to have private health insurance before taking up residence in Austria/applying for residency.

Once you have taken up residency in Austria, health care insurance must be applied for. Be aware that his application can be denied!

Student Self-Insurance

Degree students at universities may choose to take out self-insurance (Studierendenselbstversicherung). This is particularly of interest for those students who do not plan on working alongside their studies and therefore won’t be having access to health insurance via their job. The main requirements for student self-insurance are being registered as an Austrian resident, as well as a confirmation of admission or continuation of your studies (issued by your university). You can find a helpful online-guide for checking if you are eligible for student self-insurance here.

Cost of Student Healthcare

The cost for health insurance for students with access to the regional healthcare system comes in at roughly 60€ per month.