Module 8 – 2 Health care for refugees in Austria

2  Health care for refugees in Austria

As soon as a person applies for asylum in Austria and is admitted to the asylum procedure, the person is insured in the common health insurance system and is entitled to receive health care equally to Austrian citizens.

The initial reception centres and distribution centres in Austria are intermediate facilities where refugees/asylum seekers are transferred to initially; they are operated by the Ministry of Interior. An initial health assessment is mandatory within 72 hours and primary health care is provided. The ORS service GmbH is commissioned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to conduct the initial medical assessment and is also responsible for the provision of primary health care in these facilities.

The initial health assessment focuses on acute and infectious diseases including a recommendation for vaccination to protect the refugees and the Austrian community for cross-border health threats (see module 2, chapter 2.2) [Link to Module 2, chapter 2.2]. Unfortunately, up to now there is no continuity of care possible between the initial health assessment and the regular health care system meaning that you as primary care provider have to start more or less from the beginning with the anamnesis. However, since the focus of the initial health assessment was on acute and infectious diseases including vaccination the focus of the first visit at the primary care system should focus, especially, on:

  • Dental health
  • Chronic diseases
  • Reproductive and sexual health including family planning
  • Psychosocial conditions

After the asylum seeker is admitted to the asylum procedure, he/she is transferred from the initial reception or distribution centre to a long-term facility operated by the provinces, herein referred to as refugee camp. Refugee camps can either be organized refugee camps, operated by an NGO or private refugee accommodations, where the asylum seeker sings a tenancy agreement and receives regular social service support by NGOs. In both of these refugee camps there are no provisions on additional health care and primary health care is provided within the conventional Austrian health care provision system. In some larger refugee camps additional medical service is available on-call or regularly, but largely asylum seekers have access to the conventional system. Depending on the respective Austrian province asylum seekers might receive e-cards (which is the personal electronic smart card with which one can access the health care system, indicating name and social security number) or e-card alternatives with which physicians and GPs can be visited.

Key facts on the asylum process in Austria:

UNHCR Flight and Asylum in Austria FAQ


Here find a glossary on the asylum process in Austria. []

Here find Key Facts on the Austrian health care system, in German [] and in English.


In the following you find basic information on the Austrian Health Care System by the Viennese Government

The Guidebook on the Austrian health care system is available in German, English, Arab, and Farsi


Free clinics for persons without health insurance in Austria are Amber-Med [] and all hospitals the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God (Barmherzige Brüder) in Vienna, Eisenstadt, Graz, St. Veit/ Glan, Linz, Salzburg []