Leigh Turner

Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

15th October 2019 Vienna, Austria

Healthcare for UK nationals in Austria after Brexit

The UK is preparing to leave the EU on 31st October. If there is a deal, your current rights as a resident of Austria will remain the same, as long as you remain resident in Austria. If there is no deal, your access to healthcare may change. The UK Government is working hard to secure healthcare arrangements if we leave the EU without a deal, but there are actions you should take now.

The first thing you need to do is to review your healthcare cover and make sure you understand how you are currently insured. After Brexit, the large majority of UK nationals living and working here in Austria will continue to be covered as before – for example anyone who works here and pays, or has paid, into an Austrian Krankenkasse. But, if you are insured by the UK via an S1 or A1 form and there is no Brexit deal, and no reciprocal arrangement in place with Austria, your automatic access to healthcare in Austria will stop.

An example of this would be a UK pensioner who retired in Austria having never worked here. This also applies to non-UK nationals who have paid into the UK system.

If this is you and the UK leaves without a deal on 31st October, you are advised to take out voluntary insurance with your regional health insurer – that’s the Gebietskrankenkasse – within 6 weeks of Brexit day at the latest. This is to avoid potential gaps in healthcare coverage and avoid being exposed to high costs for treatment.

This would mean making monthly payments to ensure you keep your healthcare coverage. Payments will be based on income, so you should get in touch with your local Gebietskrankenkasse now, before Brexit, to discuss your individual circumstances and to find out what your monthly contribution would be. You will be able to join the regional health insurer at any point within the first six weeks after a no-deal Brexit without being subject to the usual waiting periods.

As you may be aware, the UK government has made an announcement to pay for some healthcare services for six months after Brexit if there is a no-deal Brexit. These contingencies are short term and not a long-term solution, and may not cover all the costs that you face, so you should not delay joining an Austrian statutory health insurer as soon as possible and not later than six weeks after Brexit day if you intend to stay in Austria. You may face significant additional costs and delay in being admitted to the Austrian system if you wait longer than six weeks.

Healthcare for UK students studying in Austria

UK students studying in Austria need to think about healthcare too. If you are a student at an Austrian university relying on a UK issued EHIC for your medical care, you should look into taking out travel insurance, as is the case now. After Brexit day, you may wish to take out local voluntary insurance with your local Gebietskrankenkasse, which is available at a reduced rate for students. This is important because you may still face healthcare costs in Austria, unless there is a reciprocal healthcare arrangement in place.

Travel insurance after Brexit

Visitors to Austria should make sure they have comprehensive travel insurance if they are planning to visit on or after Brexit day. The UK Government always advises people to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas, both to the EU and non-EU destinations.

I appreciate this is a stressful time for many of you, but it is important to take action now so you are fully informed about what the changes mean for you. If you know anyone who is not online but may benefit from this information, please share it with them.

We continue to work with our Austrian colleagues on healthcare, as this is such an important topic. Subscribe to our Living in Austria guide and we will update you whenever more information becomes available.

10 comments on “Healthcare for UK nationals in Austria after Brexit

  1. Dear
    I have moved from the UK in August with my wife and son to St Polten. I have applied for S1 for all of us. I am still paying tax in the UK through my established business. However, S1 form takes up to 20 weeks to be approved in the UK. I cant wait 20 weeks to get my application approved so I believe I have to get my private medical insurance. I have no idea how to get a private insurance for me and my family in St Polten. Can you please specifically tell me what insurance cover I need and where to go?
    Having medical insurance is required to to apply for our residence permit in Austria.
    Your quick answer is highly appreciated.
    Fadi

  2. I am insured in Austria by the Dutch authorities, despite being British, as I worked for 41 years there, and have a Dutch pension. So I have a local EHIC for Austria, paid for by the Dutch, and a Dutch EHIC for the rest of the EU. If I understand your answers correctly, I would need to take out health insurance cover if I went to the UK on holiday

    1. Thanks for your comment Norval. As per my previous response, you should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK after Brexit if you are living in Austria and are not currently eligible for a UK-issued S1 form or EHIC. You should take out appropriate travel insurance when visiting the UK, as you would when visiting any other country.

  3. My wife and I have never worked in Austria so are currently covered by the S1 form. I know that ceases on 31st October under a no deal. We are constantly told to go to the local GKK as soon as possible but having been there with an Austrian speaking friend to ensure we understood everything we were told they can do nothing until they know what the type of Brexit is. We have a place booked on the meeting in Innsbruck on Friday 18th but as the TGKK and the local BZH say they cannot tell us anything until they know something definite it seems it is not worth going. We attended the one in Salzburg in January and we get all the news on Facebook and emails and nothing has changed since then. We are told that we should have a DauerAH but the local office said that out AnmeldeBSG was the better document to have. It seems until it actually happens, whichever way, there is nothing we can do to help ourselves which is not what this site suggests.

    1. Thanks for your comment David. The local GKK should be able to provide you an estimate for monthly insurance payments after Brexit, but we are aware that different Krankenkassen may respond to these enquiries differently. We have passed your comment on to the team dealing with healthcare.

  4. Will any lists of recommended insurers for Austria exist for students etc. for whom travel insurance is recommended? From personal experience of getting visas to travel to countries like the Russian Federation that not all travel insurance providers are considered equal. Worth also mentioning that people should check the smallprint about consecutive days coverage, since many travel insurance policies may only cover (by default) a six week trip in one go.

  5. What about Austrian insured Brits visiting UK after a no deal Brexit, I presume we would also need health cover for any visit to UK? Also, an international driving petmit to support an Austrian DL?

    1. Thanks for your comment. You should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK after Brexit if you are living in Austria and are not currently eligible for a UK-issued S1 form or EHIC. You should take out appropriate travel insurance when visiting the UK, as you would when visiting any other country. There will be no requirement for an International Driving Permit, but you may need to carry an insurance ‘green card’ if your vehicle is not insured in the UK.

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.

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