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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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READERS REVEAL: Is Salzburg a nice place to live?

The alpine city has plenty to offer those who like a relaxed life with plenty of outdoor offerings, but our readers also say Salzburg is far from cosmopolitan – and comes with a few challenges.

READERS REVEAL: Is Salzburg a nice place to live?

As Austria’s fourth-largest city with over 150,000 residents, and one with more than a few historical legends attached to it, Salzburg has attracted many foreigners to live there with its crisp mountain air and picturesque streets and riverbanks. But what should someone know before moving there?

We asked our Salzburg readers that in a recent survey for The Local. Some reviews are very positive. Just a couple are mostly negative. Most though, leave Salzburg with a mixed report card – suggesting that the city, while beautiful, is better suited to some people than others.

A picturesque beauty of a city

One thing our respondents essentially unanimously agreed on, is how beautiful both the city and its surroundings are.

“It is really nice to live in a place with clean air, water, and streets where everything works nicely. The real charm of Salzburg is the nature,” says Rick, an American reader who has lived in Salzburg for over five years now. There are parks, greens spaces and even farmland throughout the city. Here we are surrounded by the majestic Alps and with easy access to the spectacular lake district.”

“If you love the outdoors, skiing, mountain biking, climbing, etc. – Salzburg could be very interesting,” says Chris, who has lived in Salzburg for a couple of years now after moving there for love.

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High Quality of Life – but it’ll cost you

Even our readers who left mixed reviews for Salzburg generally say the city offers come great quality of life – but for a steep price.

Survey respondents say the city is walkable, has little to no pollution, and sports excellent medical facilities and childcare.

However, you better be making decent money.

“Rents, food prices and a lack of more casual, and more inexpensive restaurants make it overly expensive to eat out,” says Chris, a Salzburger now for a few years. “You often overpay for something very average.”

Salzburg and its surrounding area have plenty to offer the ski, or general outdoor enthusiast. Photo by KERSTIN JOENSSON / AFP

“Living in Salzburg is very expensive, but it is safe and clean,” says Dorothy from Manchester, who came to live near Salzburg a couple of years ago to join her family.

“It is difficult to find the middle ground of interesting and affordable ethnic food at a reasonable price that other cities of its size have in abundance,” says Rick from the USA.

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Unfriendly – or even discriminatory – locals

More than a few of our readers complained that Salzburg locals aren’t the friendliest bunch – and it can be hard to get to know people in the city.

“It’s not a very openminded place,” says Leo, who has been living in Salzburg for over ten years. “Salzburg is not really international or cosmopolitan people. But it’s still a cool place for a chill & cozy time.”

“The locals are not known for being warm and welcoming,” says long-time resident Rick. “They are very traditional, conservative, and hesitant to open up in any way to foreigners.”

For some readers, the problem is worse than the city’s unfriendliness. Some say they’ve faced outright discrimination.

“The locals are not the most friendly and some of them are actually quite racist. English is not spoken that much either,” says Karl from London, who moved to Salzburg over five years ago for work.

“Discrimination towards internationals is present in some sections of society, and one must be prepared to face it in daily life,” says Muhammed, originally from India and living in Salzburg for over a year.

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Overall, our readers make it clear that Salzburg isn’t for everyone. Couples making a decent living and looking to raise a family – especially if they love the outdoors – could take to Salzburg very naturally. But those looking for good value, decent nightlife, or to make friends with locals could have a much harder time – or are perhaps better off looking somewhere else.