In the middle of the night, my brother’s heart stopped. Austrian healthcare saved his life. One of the fittest people I know, he has been doing tai chi and kung fu since he was a teenager. He runs nearly daily and skis in winter. In fact, he met his wife at a skiing holiday where she worked as a skiing instructor in her University holidays. My brother eats a very healthy diet, has ideal weight for his height and was told by a doctor that he has the pulse of a 20 year old.
That night, a blood clot blocked the blood supply to his heart and the organ stopped. Thankfully, as he fell over in the bathroom, his wife woke up and immediately called for help. The hospital inserted a stent, and regular check-ups show that he has fully recovered.
Austrian healthcare entitlement
What I found astonishing is the aftercare he has been receiving. After a two-day stay in hospital, a month after his discharge home he received three weeks of rehabilitation treatment in a specialist centre. This consisted of advice on diet, exercise and meditation to keep his heart healthy.
He has been on several so-called “cures” since then. Every Austrian with a condition which limits their quality of life or ability to work is entitled to such a cure paid for by the health insurance scheme they contribute to. The employer has to give time off work for the period of such a cure.
Mobility issues for one of my brother’s friends meant a cure consisting of massages, hot mud treatment and special physiotherapeutic exercises. All this takes place in centres which are like 4 star hotels. Depending on one’s wages and the insurance one pays, these treatments are free.
Contributing to healthcare
Contributions to a health insurance of one’s choice cost 12% of one’s income. The employer has to pay roughly the same percentage as the employee.
For anyone interested in finding out more detailed information in health provisions in Austria, specifically for people wanting to live in Austria, visit The healthcare system in Austria. The introduction is very reassuring:
“No matter where you are moving to, healthcare is a major priority. Fortunately for expats relocating to Austria, the country’s healthcare is excellent, affordable, and accessible. In fact, healthcare in Austria is renowned throughout Europe and the world for its high quality and universality. Covering nearly 100% of the population, it is broad and far-reaching; your biggest concern will likely be making sure someone at your doctor’s [surgery] speaks English.”
Latest Covid measures in Austria
Austria’s new measures putting unvaccinated people into lockdown has been in the news.
My sister-in-law is not vaccinated, as she has too many allergies and she is medically exempt. She is happy to keep to the restrictions which allow her to go to work, with a mask, and to do only essential shopping. Family visits with over six people are not allowed.
Austrians follow regulations
People have generally been very good at following government advice and restrictions. The wearing of masks in all shops, restaurants and on public transport is compulsory. So the country has to date been spared the sort of death rate per 100,000 the UK has suffered.
However, there is currently an unusual peak in infection rates and the government has reacted immediately.
The lockdown in my brother’s view might be extended to everybody if the infection rates grow. There are special arrangements in place to stop covid cases impacting on other health care provisions. A certain percentage of hospital beds are reserved and the government has brought in restrictions to avoid disturbing the balance.
Regular covid testing is encouraged and is freely available all over the country. Certificates and negative test results are required for many activities and work situations.