Country Report: Austria

May 01, 2013
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

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Bella Figura’ Wiener Staatsoper.
Historically, Austria was the dominant political power in Central Europe under the Habsburg dynasty which ruled until World War I. Although the 20th century has been marked by significant shake ups and power shifts between countries in Europe, Austria remains today a key strategic market thanks to its steady economic development and inclination for innovation. Because of its dynamics and ideal location, it is often argued that Austria is still a gateway for the Western World to Central Europe. But to what extent? What other roles does Austria play in the regional and global pharmaceutical landscape?

It only takes a matter of minutes walking down the streets of Vienna to envisage a time when the city, placed at the center of Europe, was the focal point of an entire empire steeped in rich and magnificent history. From the premiere of Mozart's most recognized works to the decisive Congress of Vienna, the city has had a wealth of cultural, political, and scientific experiences that make it truly stand out. While the entire country today is a different place compared to centuries ago, life for the average Austrian has consistently been excellent.

Alois Stöger, Austrian Federal Minister of Health
The standard of well-being in Austria is second-to-none. Vienna was rated by Mercer in 2012 as the number one city in the world for quality of living. Overall, Austrians enjoy very high standards in terms of infrastructure and public services, and healthcare could indeed be described as outstanding. 99 percent of all Austrians are protected by statutory health insurance as a result of the General Social Insurance Act of 1956, which created a simple insurance structure that promoted solidarity and social cohesion.

Net health insurance expenditure for medicines 2005 - 2011
Alois Stöger, Federal Minister of Health, believes that good health is considered a truly invaluable asset in Austria, which is reflected in healthcare spending and health system resources. "In 2009, about 11 percent of gross domestic product was spent on health, of which 78 percent was generated from public sources," comments Stöger. "A high density of easily accessible health care facilities exists, and patients have considerable choice of provider. Access to high quality medical care is ensured for all citizens. Equitable health care for all patients is of great importance; services provided by social health insurance do not depend on social status or income." An example of this high quality care is demonstrated through the implementation of the "electronic health card" in 2006, whereby citizens' information on medical history and insurance are electronically stored on a personally issued card that can be used by physicians for a variety of purposes ranging from diagnosis to billing. In the coming years, Stöger will be working hard to increase the lifespan of the average Austrian by two years.

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