Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ouch! Healthcare in Austria

Despite your best plans, occasionally a trip might go a little pear-shaped. It's not uncommon in the skiing areas for an accident to happen, so it's good to be prepared and know about the Austrian healthcare system. Of course, accidents can happen anywhere, and you could sustain an injury from falling down your hotel stairs or by falling over in the street. Hopefully, none of this will happen to you, but at least you can be prepared if something does go wrong.

First, make sure you have some great healthcare insurance. This should cover you for whatever activities you are doing, so if you're going skiing, you may need to pay a little extra. If you're unsure about what your insurance covers, ask your insurance broker. The best policies cover medical evacuation in case of serious injury, and they normally cover expenses up to $3 million or £2 million. This should be the minimum that you need.

Because we travel a lot, we have an annual policy, which covers us wherever we go. However, depending on your circumstances, you may want to consider single trip or multitrip insurance. Single-trip cover is great if you only travel once a year, and multitrip cover may work out cheaper if you travel a few times a year. Again, it's best to consult with your insurance broker to ensure your specific needs are met.

If you are an EU national, make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC. This entitles you to state-funded care while traveling in Europe, although it doesn't cover other expenses such as repatriation. In addition, you may have to pay certain standard charges, similar to prescription charges.

The number for the Austrian emergency services is 144. When the operator answers, ask for the Rettung. If your German is poor, it may be best to ask for help from someone who knows the language, such as a hotel worker or your instructor or guide.

If you are covered by the European Health Insurance Card, make sure you're taken to a state-funded facility. This it is important if your hotel or guide is arranging for treatment. The EHIC only covers you for state-funded treatment. If you are covered by health insurance, make sure you inform your provider as soon as possible. They will be able to advise you on what to do.

Hopefully, though, your trip will go off without a hitch. Austria is a fantastic place to visit, but it does pay to be prepared.