Austria is a country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $51,936 (2018 est.). The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2010 was ranked 25th in the world for its Human Development Index.
The nation of Austria has a two-tier health care system in which many individuals receive publicly-funded care, but they also have the option to purchase supplementary private health insurance. Some individuals choose to completely pay for their care privately. Austria’s health care system was given 9th place by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their mid-00s international ranking.
Health inequalities are implicitly addressed by the Austrian Government as there is no national integrated plan directly addressing the issue. Policies that impact on health inequalities are partially developed by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Landers (regions). Strengthening primary care is a key objective of the 2017 health reform package. It aims to enhance primary care through the establishment of new multidisciplinary care units.
Behavioural risk factors are a major public health issue in Austria. More than a quarter of the entire burden of disease is related to unhealthy lifestyles with wide inequalities in the prevalence of chronic conditions by education level. The Austrian health targets consider the focus on social determinants of health as a basic principle. However, smoking rates are 83% higher in the lowest-educated population than in the highest-educated population and obesity rates are more than twice as high in the population with the lowest level of education.
An overview of policy responses addressing health inequalities in Austria can be found in our Policy Database.
An overview of projects and initiatives that are currently taking place in Austria or that have successfully been finalized, and that are addressing health inequality issues, can be found in our Project Database.
Please find below an overview of key actors in Austria working on health inequality issues:
- Bundesministerium für Gesundheit – Federal Ministry of Health
- Fonds Gesundes Österreich – Austrian Health Promotion Foundation. FGÖ promotes projects, develop activities and campaigns and act as a catalyst to set up collaborations. The purpose of all these efforts is to make healthy life styles and healthy life settings available to as many people in Austria as possible. It is a business unit of Gesundheit Österreich GmbH. Their website also provides extensive information on health promotion, prevention, and self-help initiatives.
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Please find below an overview of relevant documents addressing health inequality issues in Austria. Further publications can be found in our Publications Database.
- The Austrian Health Care System – Key Facts (2010) The publication describes the health care system in Austria. A chapter is dedicated to health promotion and lifestyle choices (p. 24). It does not explicitly mention health inequalities or social determinants of health, but it mentions the Austrian responsibility to provide “the best possible health care services to all citizens, irrespective of their income or social status”. It lists also a series of preventive actions taken for specific groups (women and children, immigrants, etc) and on specific themes (diet, physical exercise…). It also states that “the health policy is a cross-cutting issue. Planning and implementation processes need to involve all disciplines and sectors”, which refers to HiAP approach.
- Österreichischer bericht über strategien für sozialschutz und soziale eingliederung 2008-2010 – National Report on strategies for social protection and social inclusion
- Rahmen-Gesundheitsziele – Health goals framework. The Austrian Ministry of Health conducted a consultation among stakeholders from all policy sectors (including health) to develop Public Health Targets for Austria. The process started in May 2011 and the focus is on the determinants of health. Health equity is a specific issue that is being addressed.
- Health Reform Package – The reform aims to enhance primary care capacity through the establishment of new multidisciplinary primary care units, either in the form of primary care centres at a single location or as a network of health professionals across several locations.
Are you aware of any other key resources that should be added to this list?