The principle of compulsory insurance cover applies in Austria. This means that by law every person who is employed or self-employed and his/her specified family members are automatically covered by insurance. It is therefore not possible for insured persons, who fall under this compulsory insurance scheme, to choose whether they wish to be insured or not – nor is it possible to choose with which insurance institution they want to be insured. Persons who are not or who are only to some extent covered under the mandatory social insurance scheme may, however, join a voluntary insurance scheme.
Which insurance institution individuals are insured by under the compulsory scheme generally depends on his/her type of employment:
The Gebietskrankenkassen (Regional Health Insurance Funds) have “general competence”. This means that they are in principle always responsible for providing insurance cover, especially for workers, employees and pensioners covered by the General Social Insurance Act (Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz, ASVG), unless these individuals are already covered by another compulsory insurance institution. There is a separate Regional Health Insurance Fund for each federal province.
In addition to the Regional Health Insurance Funds there are also a number of special insurance schemes focusing on specific professions or vocational groups:
Sozialversicherungsanstalt der Bauern (SVB, the Austrian Farmers Social Security Authority): under the compulsory insurance scheme all self-employed male and female farmers and their family members who also work full-time in agriculture and forestry are covered by this insurance fund throughout Austria.
Sozialversicherungsanstalt der Gewerblichen Wirtschaft (SVA, the Austrian Social Insurance Authority for Business): under the compulsory insurance scheme mainly members of the Austrian Economic Chamber (business, trade and industry section), company shareholders, the “new” self-employed and pensioners covered by the Social Insurance Act for Self-Employed Persons in Trade and Industry (GSVG) are covered by this insurance fund throughout Austria.
Versicherungsanstalt für Eisenbahnen und Bergbau (VAEB, the Austrian Social Insurance Authority for the Austrian Railways and Mining Industry): under the compulsory insurance scheme all persons employed by public railways (i.e. the Austrian Federal Railways [ÖBB], private railways and funiculars) or in mining companies and pensioners who used to work in these professions and/or sectors are covered by this insurance fund throughout Austria.
Versicherungsanstalt öffentlich Bediensteter (BVA, the Austrian Social Insurance Authority for Civil and Public Servants): under the compulsory insurance scheme all persons employed in the public sector (by the federal government, the province governments, municipal authorities, universities, etc.) and politicians are covered by this insurance fund throughout Austria.
Some Austrian companies have also set up special Betriebskrankenkassen (company health insurance funds), which provide insurance cover exclusively for persons working in that particular company.
For more detailed questions on health insurance in Austria, please contact the individual insurance institutions.