They say everyone should visit Austria at least once in their lifetime. For many travellers, that first time is not enough, and they return regularly to enjoy all this country has to offer.
Whether you’re a frequent visitor or a first-time explorer, there’s always a chance you will need some sort of medical assistance during your stay. Previously, this would have involved applying for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) before your vacation. However, post-Brexit, you need an Austria UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
This guide will explain what an Austria GHIC Card is, why you need it, and how to use an Austria Health Insurance Card to access free or reduced-cost health services. We will also explain how to make an Austria GHIC application.
Difference between an EHIC and Austria UK GHIC Card
When the UK was part of the EU, it had a reciprocal health care agreement with other countries in Europe. Their citizens could access NHS help, and the British could use state-funded health services on their travels. This system has been replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This is part of a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the 27 EU members including Austria.
If you still have a valid EHIC, you can use that in Austria. If not, you must make an Austria GHIC application. You will then be able to use your card in other countries in the future. Bear in mind that travel insurance will still be required.
Reasons to apply for an Austria GHIC
It would be easy to imagine that going to the Republic of Austria for a holiday or business trip means you won’t use a new Austria UK Global Health Insurance Card. However, even with Belgium GHIC card, you can’t be sure that you won’t need medical assistance, and not all situations are covered by travel insurance.
For instance, one of the biggest draws is Vienna, Austria’s capital. Famed for its cultural innovation and names such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss, Vienna is scattered with grand Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture and blessed with an enviable Museum Quarter.
However, even trips to Vienna may require you to have an Austria GHIC Card, as you never know when a medical issue might arise in this busy city!
Exploring by road
Also, if you plan a road trip to visit Austria’s castles, palaces and other heritage buildings – including the Festung Hohensalzburg, Castle Liechtenstein, Burg Hohenwerfen and the Schloß Artstetten – sadly a road accident could send you off for medical treatment. Where would you go, and how would you pay?
The Austrian Lake District
There are superb lakes in Austria’s beautiful western and southern regions. Including Halstattersee, Bodensee (Lake Constance) and Wörthersee. The rolling hills and open roads make it a popular place for cycling holidays. Going on an activity holiday of any kind makes it particularly vital to apply for an Austria UK GHIC Card.
The biggest magnet for visitors to Austria is often its mountains. As it features such incredible – and accessible – peaks, it attracts extreme sport, skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering fans. Especially the highest peak, Grossglockner (3,798 metres). However, there are many places for family and leisure hiking, mountain climbing and skiing too. The Austrian Central Alps is picture book perfect, with unspoilt mountain villages and some of the best photo opportunities in Europe!
If you are heading for the alpine roads, rocky landscape and mountain-based activities, your Austria UK Global Health Insurance Card is especially vital for any trips, slips, falls or skiing accidents.
Using an Austria GHIC for healthcare services
How would you use your Austria Health Insurance Card?
Your Austria GHIC and Bulgaria GHIC cards cannot be used for private treatment. Only for the sort of state-funded health services that Austrian citizens are entitled to.
That means you must find a doctor under the umbrella of the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (Austrian Health Insurance Fund). Using your Austria UK GHIC Card, you have free health diagnosis and treatment. The word to look for is Kassenarzt or Alle Kassen.
The same applies to Dentists, but you may find some local charges apply even with your Austria GHIC Card.
What about hospital treatment with an Austria Health Insurance Card? Emergency and unavoidable general treatment in an Austrian hospital is free of charge, but not if it is a private facility. That includes when you need to arrange specialist care in advance, such as dialysis. Use university and regional hospitals funded by the federal healthcare fund (Landesgesundheitsfonds).
Please note, to use your Austria Health Insurance card for hospital treatment you would need a doctor’s referral unless you were taken there for emergency assistance. Also, there are often charges for staying in hospital, even when using your Austria GHIC Card. Plus, you will need to pay for prescriptions.
Having an Austria UK GHIC Card or Croatia GHIC Card entitles you to free ambulance transport, when medically necessary. However, there are circumstances – including air ambulances – when charges occur.
Applying for your Austria UK Global Health Insurance Card
You apply for the new Austria UK GHIC Card via the NHS website or using the services of a specialist service. You will need to provide evidence of your name, address and citizenship of the UK.
If you lose or forget your Austria GHIC card when travelling, you need to contact:
NHS Overseas Healthcare Services Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 1999
(Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm)
They will issue a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to show to Austrian medical professionals.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What if I get medical treatment not under the Austrian Health Insurance Fund?
It may be possible to use your Austria GHIC to claim up to 80% of the cost back. However, your application for reimbursement should be to the Austrian Health Insurance Fund, not the NHS. You must have receipts and other relevant documentation to support your claim. You may also be able to claim on your travel insurance.
Can my Austria UK GHIC Card help me get home from a skiing accident?
Your Austria GHIC helps you get free treatment while in the country but doesn’t cover the cost of rescuing you from the slopes, nor getting you back to the UK. This is why travel insurance is still vital.
Does my Austria GHIC Application help me get a free operation in an Austrian clinic?
Your Austria GHIC card is for unavoidable use of health services on your holiday or business trip. If you choose to travel abroad to have a procedure, operation or to give birth, you cannot use your GHIC to offset any charges you incur.