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Expat Exchange - Prescription Medications and Pharmacies in Austria
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Prescription Medications and Pharmacies in Austria

By Joshua Wood, LPC

SJB Global
SJB Global

Summary: Learn about prescription medications and pharmacies before you need them in Austria.

Prescription Medications and Pharmacies in Austria

Moving to or living in Austria as an expat or digital nomad comes with the need to understand the healthcare system, particularly when it comes to prescription medications. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on the availability of prescription drugs, the nature of pharmacies, and other important considerations regarding medication in Austria.

Pharmacies in Austria

In Austria, pharmacies, known as "Apotheken," are the primary outlets for prescription medications. They are widely available throughout the country, including in smaller towns and rural areas. Austrian pharmacies are typically well-stocked and staffed by knowledgeable pharmacists who can provide advice on medication and minor medical issues. Most pharmacies operate during regular business hours, but there is always a roster for after-hours service, ensuring that you can access medication at any time in case of an emergency.

Prescription Medications in Austria

Prescription medications in Austria require a prescription from a licensed doctor. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be purchased without a prescription, but for anything stronger or more specialized, you will need to consult a healthcare professional. This is to ensure the safe use of medication and to monitor any potential side effects or interactions with other drugs. It's important for expats and digital nomads to register with a local doctor upon arrival in Austria to facilitate this process.

Cost of Prescription Medications in Austria

Prescription medications in Austria are generally affordable, with costs significantly subsidized by the Austrian healthcare system for those who are covered by public health insurance. Expats and digital nomads who have private health insurance should check their policy details to understand what medication costs are covered. For those without any form of health insurance, medication costs can be higher, so it's advisable to secure some form of coverage to mitigate these expenses.

Important Considerations for Expats and Digital Nomads

Expats and digital nomads in Austria should be aware that medication names and availability might differ from their home countries. It's crucial to know the generic name of any medication you require and to consult with a local doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns. Additionally, always carry your prescription with you, as well as a letter from your doctor if you are traveling with medication that is considered a controlled substance. Lastly, be mindful of the language barrier; while many pharmacists speak English, having medical information in German can facilitate smoother interactions.

Navigating Prescription Refills in Austria

For those who plan to stay in Austria long-term, it's important to understand how prescription refills work. Typically, a prescription from an Austrian doctor is valid for six months, and you can get refills for the duration of the prescription. If you're on long-term medication, establish a relationship with a local doctor early on to ensure continuity of care. For digital nomads who may not stay long enough to use a local prescription, it's advisable to bring an adequate supply of medication or to arrange for international prescriptions through a service back home.

Health Insurance and Medication Coverage in Austria

Health insurance plays a pivotal role in accessing prescription medications in Austria. Those covered by the Austrian social security system will find that many prescription medications are covered or available at a reduced cost. Private health insurance policies vary, so it's important to review your policy and understand what is included. Expats and digital nomads should also consider obtaining a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if they are eligible, as it can provide additional coverage within the European Union.

Expats Talk About Prescriptions in Austria

"The pharmacies are virtually on every other block, and my Dr. is across the street from me. I go to the the doctor every other month to get my prescriptions filled (15 medications) and the co-payments are always under 5 Euro. Most medications have to go through the doctor. The overall experience is good and I have no complaints," commented one expat living in Vienna, Austria.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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