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June 2, 1993

Health Care in AustriaUniversal Access, National Health Insurance, and Private Health Care

Author Affiliations

Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Medicine, Duke University Durham, NC; Institute fur Sozialmedizin, Medical School University of Vienna, (Austria); Department of Urology, Medical School University of Vienna (Austria)

JAMA. 1993;269(21):2789-2794. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500210089039

Recent political and social changes in Central and Eastern Europe have resulted in the formation of many new health care systems. Austria, the former Czechoslovakia, and Hungary had similar political and social backgrounds until 1918 as part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. With World War I, separate political systems formed in these countries; however, they maintained comparable medical systems until 1938. The Austrian system has not changed substantially since 1938, whereas in the former Czechoslovakia and Hungary, communist ideology resulted in profound disintegration of the health care system. The health care in Austria is a national health care system with good access to care, few malpractice lawsuits, and little tendency toward overuse of medical resources.

Austria, a country of 7.5 million inhabitants, is made up of nine distinct states. Vienna, with a population of 1.7 million, is the most populated state and has the largest population of refugees and elderly. The