SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

What is Austria’s Mutter-Kind-Pass and how is it changing?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass is hitting the headlines as the Austrian Federal Government plans a reform of the scheme. Here's how it works now, why it is necessary and how it will change in the future.

What is Austria’s Mutter-Kind-Pass and how is it changing?
The Mutter-Kind-Pass enables pregnant women in Austria to access free medical examinations. (Photo by Kristina Paukshtite / Pexels)

The Mutter-Kind-Pass (Mother-Child-Pass) was launched in Austria in 1974 to ensure the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies.

It grants pregnant women free access to essential examinations and consultations, and serves as a record of healthcare.

But big changes are on the cards for the pass as a digitization reform is planned for the coming years, while disputes continue about the cost of the scheme.

Here’s what you need to know about how the Mutter-Kind-Pass works, why it’s necessary and how it will change. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules about turning on the heating in the workplace in Austria?

What is the Mutter-Kind-Pass?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass is a small, yellow passport-style document to provide and track healthcare for pregnant women and young children in Austria.

It is issued to a woman when a pregnancy is confirmed by a doctor and contains records of medical examinations during pregnancy. As well as health check-ups for the child up to five years of age.

The Mutter-Kind-Pass exists to ensure pregnant women and children get the necessary medical care they need.

For example, women in Austria are entitled to five medical check-ups throughout their pregnancy including blood tests, internal examinations, ultrasound scans and consultations with a midwife.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Am I liable for ambulance costs in Austria?

Who can get the Mutter-Kind-Pass and how much does it cost?

Any pregnant woman living in Austria can get the Mutter-Kind-Pass (and subsequent health examinations) for free.

However, all examinations must take place with a doctor that is registered with a health insurance company in Austria.

Women without health insurance need a confirmation of entitlement from the Austrian health insurance fund that is responsible for the area where they live.

This is a required step before any examinations can take place free of charge.

Why is the pass necessary?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass and its mandatory examinations are primarily used to detect any illnesses or possible complications early. 

The expected date of delivery is also entered into the Mutter-Kind-Pass, so the document is needed to receive maternity pay in Austria.

Additionally, proof of examinations are required to receive the full entitlement to childcare allowance (Kinderbetreuungsgeld). This means the pass should be taken to every maternity-related appointment, as recommended by the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse.

How is the Mutter-Kind-Pass being reformed?

On Wednesday 16th November, Minister for Women and Family Affairs Susanne Raab (ÖVP) and Minister of Health Johannes Rauch (Greens) announced a reform of the Mutter-Kind-Pass.

The most notable change will be a transition from the paper booklet to a digital app in 2024, as well as new services and a name change to the Eltern-Kind-Pass (Parent-Child-Pass).

Raab said: “In addition to the services in the area of ​​health care, we will introduce parent advice, which should be a compass for the new phase of life for new parents.”

The new services will include counselling, an extra consultation with a midwife, an additional ultrasound, hearing screenings for newborns, nutritional and health advice, and multilingual information in digital form.

Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

In the future, parents-to-be and new parents will also be offered parenting advice when they have their first child, for example on the compatibility of employment and childcare, on the division of parental leave or on the effects of part-time work on pensions.

“The mother-child pass has been an essential part of maternal and child health in Austria for decades. Now we have managed together to further develop this important instrument in a contemporary form”, said Rauch.

READ NEXT: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria

The implementation of the parent-child passport is a comprehensive, multi-year project and will begin with digitisation from next year.

The annual budget for the Mutter-Kind-Pass is currently €62 million and an additional €10 million from EU funds has been allocated to cover the cost of the reforms. 

However, there have been debates in recent months about the general cost of the pass. 

As a result there are ongoing negotiations between insurance companies and the Medical Association about the reimbursement of fees for providing healthcare and examinations.

READ ALSO: ‘Better and cheaper’: What foreigners really think about childcare in Austria

Der Standard reports that the Medical Association is threatening to discontinue the Mutter-Kind-Pass at the end of the year if an agreement on doctors fees cannot be reached. If that were to happen, expectant mothers would have to pay for examinations.

Currently, doctors receive €18.02 per examination and the Association is calling for an 80 percent increase.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TAXES

What’s likely to change with radio and TV fees in Austria?

After a court ruling, the Austrian government needs to make changes to the public broadcaster's ORF funding fee, the GIS. Here are the three things that could happen and how they will affect you.

What's likely to change with radio and TV fees in Austria?

In 2022, the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled that receiving TV programmes online and streaming them without paying so-called GIS fees is “unconstitutional”, as The Local reported.

Consequently, the court has asked the legislative powers (Austria’s National Council, Federal Council and Federal Assembly) to take action by “closing the streaming gap” by the end of 2023.

GIS is Austria’s TV and radio licence that can set people who have TV equipment at home back between €22.45 and €28.25, depending on the state, a month. Most of that money goes to the public broadcaster ORF and pays for in-house productions, broadcasting equipment, technical equipment, licenses and more.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to pay Austria’s TV and radio fee, or (legally) avoid it

Even people who don’t watch ORF programmes need to pay for GIS as long as they have a device capable of receiving the broadcast. However, those who don’t pay for it because they don’t have such devices can still stream the content online, which the court ruled unconstitutional.

By the end of 2023, Austria’s Parliament will have to decide on new rules not to exempt those who access ORF online from payment.

Experts have discussed different solutions, from extending payment to every household in Austria to creating a paywall for watching ORF content online. According to Austrian media, there are now three alternatives being considered.

A household taxation

In this alternative, a levy would be collected regardless of reception devices – so exemption due to not owning a radio or TV would no longer exist, according to news site Heute. Instead, every household in Austria would pay around €18 per month, similar to what currently happens in Germany. 

There would be exemptions for low-income households. 

In this scenario, ORF would receive more than 60,000 additional payers – and thus more revenue. 

READ ALSO: Austria set to make TV and radio fees mandatory for everyone

GIS for more devices

Currently, the fee can only be collected for stationary, operational broadcast reception devices (television, radio), according to GIS.

A new solution would be extending the GIS obligation to all devices suitable for broadcast reception or Internet access, such as computers and smartphones. Since practically every household owns such devices, this model would be a de facto household levy. 

However, GIS inspectors would have to continue to ask and check whether there are specific devices in the household.

Government financing

Another possibility discussed is financing ORF via general taxes, adding the broadcaster to the government’s budget. The financing would have to be indexed (adjusted automatically to inflation) with an amount legally fixed through National Council’s approval.

However, there is still concern that adding the ORF to the federal budget would expose the news channel to political influence.

READ ALSO: How Austria’s TV licence changes may affect you (even if you don’t watch TV)

Another alternative many users prefer would be a paywall for watching ORF content online. Many viewers consider this the only fair solution because, they say, one shouldn’t pay for a service not consumed. Logins and access keys may be easily abused, though. Besides, a paywall wouldn’t solve the corporation’s biggest issue, its decreasing revenues.

Which option will actually replace the GIS fee is currently the subject of intensive negotiations between politicians and ORF, Heute said. A decision is to be made by the end of March so that the broadcaster can put together its budget for 2024 in good time.

SHOW COMMENTS