Health For Members

Reader question: Can I use my Austrian e-card for dental care?

The Local Austria
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Reader question: Can I use my Austrian e-card for dental care?
A dentist works on a patient. (Image by JOSEPH SHOHMELIAN from Pixabay)

Austria's healthcare system is comprehensive but also confusing, and it can be tricky figuring out what falls in the public system and what you need to pay privately.


Regarding Austria's health system, a few things always surprise foreigners, such as the requirement to have (and pay for) public health insurance - which will then give you the e-card, a credit card-looking document you can use to access the public healthcare system.

Enrolment to the insurance is generally automatic and linked to employment. ÖGK insures a vast majority of workers through their employer. Still, many, such as self-employed people, will have their insurance with SVS or BVAEB, in the case of public servants.  

Insurance is also guaranteed to co-insured persons, such as spouses and dependents, pensioners, students, disabled people, and those receiving unemployment benefits. However, it can get tricky to understand which healthcare treatments and services the public insurer covers.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about visiting a doctor in Austria

One question foreigners often ask is: Can I use my Austrian e-card for dental care in the country? In other words, can you visit a dentist and have the treatment costs covered by your public insurer? Is dental care free in Austria?

The answer is: it depends on the procedure.


What is free?

In Austria, basic dental treatments are covered by state care, including check-ups, x-ray images, amalgam fillings, and orthodontic treatments for children. They also include tooth replacement, dental treatment (such as preventive care), dental braces and oral hygiene for children and teens (also as preventive care). 

You can check a complete list of what is covered by ÖGK HERE, but it is also recommended to ask your dentist about the specific treatments they offer and what your insurance covers.

For most other procedures, you will have to pay. Each region in Austria organises its own health and dental care offerings. This means that for more extensive treatments and specialised care, travelling to bigger cities such as Vienna or Graz can be necessary.

READ ALSO: Five things you should know if you need a dentist in Austria

It is important to take into consideration that the advertising regulations of the Austrian Dental Association prohibit dentists from publishing prices for services. This means that you will only know how much a treatment costs after an examination by a dentist. This is because every procedure is different and adapted to each individual.


What do I have to pay for?

Private dental care often includes a broader range of services than basic public coverage. This can consist of specialised treatment, cosmetic dental care and a more extensive selection of dental procedures. Private care may also offer other advantages, such as treatments with the latest technology, advanced treatments, and shorter waiting times to increase comfort.

In some cases, you can submit your dentist's invoice to your public insurance to get a partial refund. This is tricky as the insurer decides how much to pay back to you, and there is a maximum refund of 80 percent of costs. 

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It's important to reiterate that this is 80 percent of the insurer's costs, something like how much they would've paid the professional for that procedure, not 80 percent of the private dentist fee, which is usually much higher than the insurance payment.


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