Hannes Richter

From the Editor

Hannes Richter

Dear Readers,

This issue of Austrian Information not only introduces you to Austria’s health care system in more detail but focuses on what is and can be done to improve the quality of life for citizens around the globe.

From politics to science and technology, from charity and culture to agriculture, every aspect is covered. We hope you will enjoy reading the magazine as much as we enjoyed putting it together. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act and the discussion about mandatory health insurance coverage prompted us to reflect on our own health care system.

Austria and the U.S. differ significantly in their approaches to health care. So the whole debate on mandatory health care in the U.S. was something the people in Austria followed with curiosity because mandatory health care is rooted in their country’s history. In Austria, the mandatory, government-regulated health care insurance system dates back to the 1800s and is universally accepted by the people.

The system requires every employer to register their employees with the district health insurance fund within seven days of starting work. How much every employee then contributes to this fund depends on the job and salary. Altogether, Austria spends 11%of itsGDP onhealth care (theU.S. spends 17.4% of its GDP) and 76% of the system is publicly funded through this insurance and tax revenue.

This way basic health care services, from dental care to health treatments in public hospitals can be guaranteed for Austrian citizens. However, apart from basic health care insurance there is also the option to obtain private insurance for special class treatment such as private doctors or hospitals. So Austria has a mix of both; it is a two tier system which gives people a choice but also guarantees basic health care for everyone.

A survey on the quality of European health care carried out by the European Commission ranked Austria third in terms of best health care provided to citizens. On an international level, the World Trade Organization ranked Austria ninth. Many of the people in Austria take universal health care for granted, simply because they do not know anything different.

They accept higher taxes as the price for universal health care. Austrian Information is dedicated to further the understanding between the U.S. and Austria. The two countries might have different historical backgrounds, but they both share the same values and principles.

Happy reading!


Alice Irvin
Editor in Chief,
Director, Austrian Press & Information Service