Useful tips on seeing the doctor in Austria
Moving to another country can be a tedious process and getting to the point, where you are settled in and comfortable with your new home, its people and the subtleties of society there, can take quite a while. Inevitably, at some point, you will have to deal with falling ill and then, usually, you will realize that there are some specifics about seeing the doctor that are a little bit different in just about every country. Familiarizing yourself a bit with how things work in your new home before you have to actually deal with a situation when you need medical aid, can be a good thing to do which might wind up saving you a lot of time and trouble. Now, before you get worried too much, it is worth noting that in Austria you will find a very high standard of health care and, as in many places in Europe, it is quite affordable or even free for the most part, due to compulsory health insurance. But even with this reassuring fact in mind, the process of seeking medical care can be overwhelming at times, so here are a few tips on how to get by while seeing the doctor in Austria.
Hospitals, general practitioners and specialists
One thing that might be surprising to expats moving to Austria is that, in the Austrian health care system, patients aren’t really meant to go to the hospital unless there is a somewhat severe injury to be taken care of or a serious surgery to be undertaken. For the most part, the medical system relies on patients seeking out a general practitioner who will be able to provide treatment in most cases or refers patients to a specialist if need be. A good way of getting acquainted with the system is to find a general practitioner in your area and book a medical check-up while in good health. This is usually covered by the insurance and makes for a good way to establish a trusting relationship to your doctor and get acquainted with how the system works. If you want to see a specialist right away, you can also seek out a specialist in his practice by making an appointment on your own. Be aware however that for some kinds of treatment and examinations you might be required to provide a referral note.
Finding an English speaking doctor in Vienna
While the majority of doctors possess a good command of the English language, you can search for doctors who list English or any other foreign language as a second language on praxisplan.at, the index of doctors practicing in Vienna, which is maintained by the Viennese medical association. You can use their search engine to filter doctors by specialties, provided services, languages spoken, association with health funds and other parameters. In regards to association with health funds, depending on which institution you are insured with, you might be restricted in your choices or be required to pay a coverage fee if you want to see a particular doctor. Also the American Embassy hosts a list of English Speaking doctors in Vienna.
More information on health insurance and social security in Austria
As health insurance is compulsory in Austria, you will be required to pay part of your income into social security. The institution you will be insured with differs depending on where you are employed, whether you are self-employed or are claiming unemployment benefits. The association of social security providers in Austria provides extensive information on the social security system in English on their website.