Austrian Social Medicine System . . .

Posted on February 21, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I have been wanting to post something about this for a while now, but can never find the words.  I think that Medical reform is big now in the states so I think many of you that read this could certainly benefit from hearing our experiences here in Vienna.

To start off, if you are not aware, Austria has a sort of hybrid of a social medicine system.  I think that a straight up social medicine system is where the doctors are paid by the system and this makes it so that the doctors get paid by the socialized medical insurance company this usually being a government run agency.  This allows the individual the peace of mind of knowing that they can walk into any doctor’s office and get the care that they need.  Now obviously this has advantages and disadvantages.  Austria has such a system in which there is socialized medicine, in our case run by the WGKK, Wiener Gebieten Kranken Kasse, or Viennese Health Insurance Company.  WGKK issues eCards to anyone that is legally employed in Austria and that means that all normal health care is covered.  This means that any sickness is something we can at least go to the doctor for as long as they take eCard.

Austria also has  some doctors that are only for private patients, usually catering to the international clientele that have private insurance companies.  This is what we used to have when we were covered by RCE’s insurance.  Now we are fully on eCard which means that we have all of our basic needs covered if we decide to go to your average everyday, run-of-the-mill doctor.  Since we need one that will speak ENglish our choices ae much slimmer as most doctors, though they almost certainly have a working knowledge of English, do not always have the desire to take English-speaking patients, so that is always a concern seeing as how our German is not that great.

Now that we have had our second child and had both of our little boys in the hospital all on eCard, the Socialized medicine system, I can say, without a doubt, that Austria has a great system for health care.  That doesn’t mean that there can’t be problems with it, but every time we have needed care it has been first rate.

One big difference I have found is the whole mindset about whether or not to call an ambulance or not for certain things.  In the States . . . one wouldn’t even think of calling an ambulance unless you are unconscious and even then some people might wait until they regain consciousness to decide knowing full well that the charges for the short ride to the nearest hospital would be astronomical and most likely not covered on insurance.  Here on the other hand, it is pretty much assumed that you call the ambulance if you have an urgent health need at any hour.  Most likely, once the paramedics arrive you will be taken to the hospital to be checked up.  If the problem is bad enough you may be admitted at once for an over night stay or a week long stay.  We experienced the peace of mind that this provides when Tobi and Izaak both woke in the middle of the night exactly a week apart with severe breathing/asthmatic symptoms.

In Tobi’s case the paramedics took me and Tobi to the nearest hospital all courtesy of eCard.  Upon arrival a doctor looked at him and released us in about an hour.  In Izaak’s case, a week later, he was admitted so that the doctors could keep an eye on him due to his being barely 3 weeks old at the time .  In both cases we were not made to feel bad for calling the paramedics and were even told that we had done the right thing.  In both cases, eCard covered EVERYTHING . . . we haven’t paid a cent out of pocket.  The monthly “premium” comes out of our “paycheck” every month and that covers our whole family.

That about sums up our experience with socialized medicine.  Tobi was in the hospital in Czech for a week a while back and that was a TOTALLY different story that I will leave for another time.  Hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of our socialist life!:)


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