Important milestones in the development of the statutory health insurance system

The antecedents of the social security system
The social security system is one of the main pillars supporting our modern society. Its roots reach back into the Middle Ages, starting with the early self-help organisations and followed by the occupational associations, the “Bruderladen” established by Austrian miners. These Bruderladen associations provided their members with financial help when they required medical treatment, and with death and invalidity benefits. It was necessary for this group to provide for mutual support in view of the high risks associated with working in the early mining industry.

Health insurance in 1889
The first legislation relating to social security as we understand it today was passed in 1889. This ensured that all employees in commercial and industrial enterprises (with the exception of agricultural labourers) were provided with statutory health insurance cover. The insurance institutions continued to be self-administered.

Second World War
The autonomy of the institutions was withdrawn and they became controlled by the state in accordance with the model used in Germany. The so-called “Reichsversicherungsordnung” – German insurance system – was introduced.

Transitional Social Security Act
With the end of the Second World War and the reestablishment of an independent Austria, the Transitional Social Security Act (Sozialversicherungs-Überleitungsgesetz) of 12 June 1947 put the organisation of the social security system on a new footing. Main features were the reintroduction of the system of self-administration of the insurance institutions and the formation of the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Organisations as umbrella institution.

ASVG of 1956
The General Social Security Act (ASVG) replaced the previous legislation in this area with effect from 1 January 1956. It regulated the health, accident and pension insurance cover of employees working in industry, mining, trade, commerce, transport, agriculture and forestry, and also the health insurance of persons in receipt of pensions.

Certain special areas of social security remain regulated by other laws outside the ASVG.

The ASVG is divided into ten parts. It has undergone numerous revisions to adapt it to the changing needs of society and the developments in socio-political outlook.