The Federation of Social Insurances is the umbrella organisation of the statutory health, accident and pension insurance institutions in Austria. It represents and coordinates the interests and activities of the five Austrian social security institutions:
- Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK): health insurance
- Pension Insurance Institution (PVA): pension insurance
- Social Security Institution for the Self-employed (SVS): health, pension and accident insurance
- Insurance Institution for Public Service Employees, Railways & Mining Industry (BVAEB): health, pension and accident insurance
- Austrian Workers' Compensation Board (AUVA): accident insurance
The Federation of Social Insurances was established by law in 1948 as Hauptverband der Sozialversicherungsträger, later Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger and has had its current name since 1 January 2020.
Tasks and legal basis
The Federation of Social Insurances was established in the Allgemeine Sozialversicherungsgesetz (ASVG), which also lists its most important tasks.
The Federation of Social Insurances plays a central role in:
- handling administrative tasks across institutions in social insurance,
- setting up guidelines to promote the efficiency and uniformity of the social security institutions’ executive practice and
- coordinating the executive activities of the social security institutions.
General tasks of the Association
The tasks of the Federation of Social Insurances for the individual insurance institutions include
- Running a common EDP system (since 1972) and administrating all data important for all social security institutions together (central partner administration ZPV)
- Managing an electronic signature-enabled administration system that includes the e-card
- According to § 30c para. 1 sub-section 8 ASVG, §§ 31a ff. ASVG (electronic administration system – ELSY), handling the issue of the e-card is one of the main tasks. It serves as a key card for numerous applications in the health system and as the European health insurance card (EHIC) for access to health systems in the EU and equivalent nations of the European Economic Area
- Passing on registration and settlement data (“data hub Main Association“) for social security institutions, hospitals, contractual partners, employers, employment offices; issuing social insurance numbers; providing information for courts and authorities as provided by law, such as assisting in censuses
- Concluding framework agreements for the social security institutions with the respective professional associations regarding medical treatment, mother-child passport benefits, occupational medicine, preventative medical check-ups, provision of medicines, psychotherapy etc.
- Publishing a Reimbursement Code for social insurance that lists eligible medicines available outside hospitals paid for by a social insurance institution. See § 30b para. 1 sub-section 4 ASVG.
- Drawing up guidelines for uniform implementation of laws by the social security institutions, providing forms of all kinds
- Controlling, comparing KPIs
- Evaluating parliamentary bills
- Providing information for courts and authorities as provided by law, such as assisting in censuses. See: § 30c para. 1 sub-section 2 lit. b ASVG (Providing information).
- Representing the social security institutions in general matters and as a cross-border liaison body with other states
- Approving construction projects
- Training professional staff for the social security institutions at the Akademie der Sozialversicherung, Preparing for job-related exams
- Negotiating collective agreements for white and blue-collar workers, doctors and dentists in facilities of the social security institutions. Roughly 27,000 people in Austria work on the basis of three service regulations and the pension-fund collective agreement.
- According to § 30c para. 1 sub-section 5 ASVG, the Federation of Social Insurances is also responsible for producing the Soziale Sicherheit magazine. It has been published since 1948 and can also be accessed electronically at the Nationalbibliothek.
The Federation of Social Insurances is a legal entity in accordance with public law. It is run in independent administration by insurance representatives following the “by insured persons for insured persons” principle. This form of organisation is based on Art. 120a of the Austrian Constitution. Members of the insured community are selected to serve on two bodies, the so-called independent administration bodies.
The Federation of Social Insurances has two independent administration bodies:
- a managing body: the Conference of Social Security Institutions
- a supervisory body: the General Assembly of Social Security Institutions
The Conference of Social Security Institutions
The Conference of Social Security Institutions consists of ten members:
- the chairpersons of the five social security institutions and
- the respective deputies of the chairpersons
The ten members of the Conference elect two chairpersons amongst themselves who alternate as chairpersons for half a year in turn. In the current term of office (1 January 2020 to 31 December 2024) these are
- Peter Lehner (chairman of the SVS) for the first half of the year and
- Ingrid Reischl for the second half of the year (deputy chairwoman of the AUVA).
The Conference of Social Security Institutions represents the Federation of Social Insurances externally. It handles all tasks that are not explicitly allocated to the General Assembly (general competence). This includes
- deciding the statute of the Federation of Social Insurances,
- deciding the model statute for the insurance institutions,
- deciding guidelines valid for all social security institutions,
- deciding binding targets and objectives (strategic, operational and financial) and checking their implementation and
- preparing the annual budget, which will then be presented to the General Assembly for final approval.
In addition, it decides projects, awards contracts and makes personnel decisions. The Conference normally meets once per month.
The General Assembly of Social Security Institutions
The General Assembly is the supervisory body of the Federation of Social Insurances and consists of 21 members.
Members of the General Assembly include
- the presiding chairpersons of the governing boards of the social security institutions and
- the chairpersons and their deputies of the general assemblies of the social security institutions.
Persons that are a member of these groups have a vote in the General Assembly.
Members of the General Assembly also include
- three representatives of the pensioners’ associations and
- three representatives of the disabled rights’ organisations.
Members of these groups do not have a vote in the General Assembly.
The chairpersons of the General Assembly come from the same institution as the respective chairpersons of the Conference of Social Security Institutions. Therefore, in the current term of office, the chairperson of the General Assembly and the deputy come from the SVS in the first half of the year, and from the AUVA in the second half.
The General Assembly has three important tasks:
- It approves the annual budget presented by the Conference.
- It appoints the auditors for the annual accounts and also approves the latter.
- It discharges the Conference.
The General Assembly meets at least twice a year.
Principle of independent administration
It is the aim of independent administration to have the provision of benefits organised by the groups of persons involved themselves, within a statutory framework. As the groups involved are recipients of the benefits, pay for these themselves, and thus the tasks are overwhelmingly or exclusively in the interest of the insured community, it is also very much in their interest to use the funds available sensibly and economically.
In a self-administrated system, the state thus transfers tasks it could basically handle itself to organisations established by law, such as the social security institutions and the Federation of Social Insurances.
The insurance representatives, that is the members of the self-administrating bodies of the social security institutions and the Federation of Social Insurances, are appointed by employers’ and employees’ associations. Self-administration is democratically legitimised because the members are appointed based on the election results in the chambers (chambers of labour, chambers of commerce and chambers of agriculture). The term of office for the self-administrating bodies of the social security institutions and the Federation of Social Insurances is five years (currently from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2024).
Within their own sphere of activities, the social security institutions and the Federation of Social Insurances can fulfil their statutory tasks without being subject to receiving directives from state administrative authorities.
Whenever the social security institutions or the Federation of Social Insurances take over tasks and activities delegated from other institutions (e.g. the State), they are still subject to the decisive authority of the respective state authority (e.g. indirect Federal administration).
The Constitution also provides for the State to have the right to supervise the self-administrated organisations. The regulators are the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection and the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The office of the Federation of Social Insurances is run by a managing director and his/her deputy. The Conference of Social Security Institutions entrusts them with day-to-day management. Both are appointed for a period of four years and are subject to receiving directives from the Conference of Social Security Institutions. Currently (1 July 2019 to 30 June 2023), Martin Brunninger is the managing director and Alexander Burz his deputy.
Their tasks include:
- Ongoing administrative transactions, if in individual cases no more than one and a half times the respective year’s upper limit for services, according to § 12 para. 1 sub-section 1 BVerG 2018 is not exceeded (in 2020: 216,000 euros)
- Personnel matters, if these are not handled directly by the Conference
- Initiating and engaging at proceedings at courts and administrative authorities, and acting as a party to the proceedings, with the exception of proceedings at the Constitutional Court
- Providing advisory opinions in evaluation procedures
- Representing the Federation of Social Insurances externally in those matters that do not require a decision of the Conference or the General Assembly
- Granting signatory power and power of disposition in banking matters for amounts already approved, in coordination with the chairperson of the Conference
- Initiating inspection activities of internal auditing, as well as approving the inspection plans
- Regularly purchasing objects and materials required for continuously running operations
- Assigning necessary recurring asks for safeguarding flawless operations and maintain operational safety
- Changes in the Reimbursement Code and negotiating prices of medicine
- Money and capital market transactions for managing the finances of the Federation of Social Insurances and the fund to be administrated by it, in coordination with the chairperson of the Conference and the deputy.
Chairpersons of the Conference of Social Security Institutions in the Federation of Social Insurances
Federation of Social Insurances:
2020 – today: Peter Lehner and Ingrid Reischl (alternating every half year)
Managing director of the Federation of Social Insurances
Managing director of the Federation of Social Insurances:
1 January 2020 – today: Martin Brunninger
The Federation of Social Insurances in its current form was established by the Sozialversicherungs-Organisationsgesetz SV-OG, which set down the reorganisation of social security institutions and its umbrella organisation as from 1 January 2020. The predecessor organisation of today’s Dachverband was the Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger. Although in 2020 the organisational structure was significantly altered and the name was changed, the underlying legal entity (and according to the legal stipulations “institutional infrastructure”) remained the same, and therefore all legal relations automatically remain intact for the time being.
The office building of the Federation of Social Insurances is located at Kundmanngasse 21 in Vienna’s third district. In 2019 it was reopened following major renovation. The architects of Chaix & Morel et Associés from Paris were the winners in a competition in which 65 projects participated. The building was furnished with a new front that now also better takes into account the Wittgenstein-Haus to the north.
The Federation of Social Insurances is required by law to publish the “Soziale Sicherheit” professional journal. All volumes of this journal, from its foundation in 1948 onwards, are available at the Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek im Internet, more recent editions also at the homepage of the Federation of Social Insurances and in the magazine collection of the legal database of the Manz-Verlag (from 1978).
Legal stipulations issued by the Federation of Social Insurances, are announced and publishes on the internet, including all amendments and changes, in their binding and authentic version. The announcements can be found in the documentation of Austrian social insurance law SozDok, as well as under ris.bka.gv.at on the internet in their current versions (and also earlier versions).
Umbrella agreements that the Federation of Social Insurances of Austrian Social Insurance Institutions concludes with professional associations (chambers) of doctors, dentists, midwives, psychologists, opticians, medical stores, medical institutes, hospitals and other professional groups active in the health sector are also published on the internet.
Zuletzt aktualisiert am 25. November 2021
As an expert in social insurance systems and organizations, I can confidently elaborate on the information provided in the article about the Federation of Social Insurances in Austria. My knowledge is based on a deep understanding of social security structures, legal frameworks, and the functioning of similar institutions around the world.
The Federation of Social Insurances, established in 1948 and later reorganized in 2020, serves as the umbrella organization for the statutory health, accident, and pension insurance institutions in Austria. It represents and coordinates the interests and activities of five key social security institutions:
- Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK): Responsible for health insurance.
- Pension Insurance Institution (PVA): Focused on pension insurance.
- Social Security Institution for the Self-employed (SVS): Covers health, pension, and accident insurance for self-employed individuals.
- Insurance Institution for Public Service Employees, Railways & Mining Industry (BVAEB): Provides health, pension, and accident insurance for specific sectors.
- Austrian Workers' Compensation Board (AUVA): Specialized in accident insurance.
The Federation of Social Insurances plays a central role in handling administrative tasks across these institutions, setting up guidelines to promote efficiency and uniformity, and coordinating executive activities. Its tasks, as outlined in the Allgemeine Sozialversicherungsgesetz (ASVG), include:
Managing a Common EDP System: Since 1972, the Federation has operated a common electronic data processing system and administers important data for all social security institutions.
Electronic Administration System (ELSY) and E-Card: The Federation is involved in the issuance of the e-card, a key card for various health applications and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for EU and EEA nations.
Data Hub and Information Provision: Handling registration and settlement data, issuing social insurance numbers, providing information for courts, authorities, and assisting in censuses.
Framework Agreements: Concluding agreements with professional associations for medical treatment, benefits, occupational medicine, and more.
Reimbursement Code: Publishing a code listing eligible medicines paid for by social insurance institutions.
Guidelines and Forms: Drawing up guidelines for uniform implementation of laws, providing various forms.
Representation and Coordination: Representing social security institutions in general matters and serving as a liaison body with other states.
Training and Collective Agreements: Training staff, negotiating collective agreements for workers, doctors, and dentists.
Additionally, the Federation is responsible for producing the "Soziale Sicherheit" magazine, mandated by ASVG.
The organization operates under a legal entity with independent administration, following the "by insured persons for insured persons" principle. It has two key bodies: the Conference of Social Security Institutions and the General Assembly of Social Security Institutions.
The Conference handles external representation, statutes, guidelines, budgets, and project decisions. The General Assembly is the supervisory body responsible for approving budgets, auditing, and discharging the Conference.
The Federation's independent administration principle involves self-administration by members of the insured community, ensuring democratic legitimacy through elections. It is subject to state supervision by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care, and Consumer Protection, and the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The office is managed by a director and deputy, responsible for day-to-day operations, personnel matters, legal representation, financial management, and more.
The article also provides information about the organizational structure, office building, and publications of the Federation of Social Insurances. The legal basis for its existence is the Sozialversicherungs-Organisationsgesetz SV-OG.
In conclusion, the Federation of Social Insurances is a crucial entity in Austria's social security landscape, playing a pivotal role in coordinating and representing various insurance institutions to ensure efficient and uniform execution of their functions.