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Health For Members

Will my Austrian health insurance pay for medical expenses abroad?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Will my Austrian health insurance pay for medical expenses abroad?
Passengers at Charles de Gaulle airport on April 25, 2024. Photo: Thomas SAMSON/AFP.

If you plan on travelling, you might wonder if you can use your Austrian e-card or public health insurance abroad. Here's what you need to know.

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With the summer holidays approaching, many people might wonder if their statutory health insurance in Austria will cover them in case of illness or accident. The answer depends on your destination, the purpose of your trip, and the type of healthcare you need.

Inside Europe

If you travel within the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein Norway or Switzerland, your Austrian health insurance will provides coverage for certain type of "medically necessary" healthcare through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). 

The EHIC grants access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare under the same conditions as residents of that country. This applies to sudden illness, accidents, pre-existing conditions requiring urgent treatment, and even maternity care.

READ ALSO: Everything foreigners need to know about the Austrian healthcare system

As well as the countries mentioned above the EHIC is valid in Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the UK.

However, the EHIC is not an alternative to comprehensive travel insurance as it doesn’t cover private healthcare costs, a flight home, or lost/stolen property. While the coverage is limited to state-provided healthcare, it does mean a doctor will treat you, and you are not liable to pay non-resident medical fees.

In Austria, every e-card (the health insurance card used to visit a doctor) already contains an EHIC on the reverse, so there is no need to apply for it separately. 

However, if the data fields on the EHIC on the back of your e-card contain stars (***) instead of personal information such as name and date of birth, further documentation is required to access healthcare in another EU country. In this case, you need to contact your social security provider in Austria to receive a replacement card before you travel.

READ MORE: How do I get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Austria?

Austria's insurer website ÖGK will also cover costs for any medically necessary treatments in Turkey in the event of illness, but you will need a so-called "sickness certificate (certificate of entitlement to benefits in kind for temporary stays)". This can be issued by your employer or the ÖGK HERE and must be done before any treatment.

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Third countries

Your EHIC won't be valid in destinations outside the EU/EEA. Austrian health insurance will offer some reimbursement for emergency medical expenses and other medical consultations, but the extent of coverage varies depending on your specific provider's policy.

In principle, you must pay the medical and treatment costs yourself in other continents, according to Austria's insurer website ÖGK. You can submit the paid invoices for reimbursement, but not all treatment will be paid back, and you won't receive the total amount you paid either. 

ÖGK will reimburse certain costs, including consultations with private doctors abroad, but you must have certain documents, such as a detailed fee note and proof of payment. You can apply for reimbursement HERE.

ÖGK recommends taking out travel insurance for trips abroad and ensuring that repatriation is included - as the insurer does not cover repatriation costs.

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READ ALSO: Why getting rescued in the Austrian Alps could cost you thousands

It's also worth noting that ÖGK does not cover all accidents, even in Austria. If you plan on doing certain types of sports, like skiing, even in the Austrian Alps or in neighbouring countries within the EU, it's essential to take out a specific sports insurance that covers all possible costs, including mountain rescue. 

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