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How does Ambulance cover work in Australia?

Megan Fraser
Megan Fraser Updated: 28 April 2021
Types of Health Insurance

ambulance cover

In the event of an emergency, an ambulance will arrive on the scene to provide immediate medical attention and transport you or a loved one to the hospital. This ensures that you receive the further treatment you need. There have been instances where an ambulance ride has meant the difference between life and death.

For this exact reason, you may want to ensure that you can use emergency services whenever you need them. However, it’s equally important to fully understand the costs involved to avoid the shock of potential bills after. Below, we help you get to grips with ambulance cover in Australia.

Key Facts

  • Medicare does not cover ambulance services even in the event of an emergency.
  • Private health insurance can assist with ambulance cover as a standalone offering or included in Hospital, Extras policy or a combined Hospital and Extras package.
  • Some states offer this type of service for free but most people will need to buy ambulance cover to avoid paying out-of-pocket.

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What is Ambulance cover?

Australian emergency services are on hand when a health-related calamity strikes, ensuring on-scene treatment in the event of a call-out and subsequent transportation to the hospital. Ambulance cover provides financial assistance for this service. As Medicare does not cover this service, you may want to apply for a Hospital or Extras policy that includes Ambulance services. Or, you could purchase a standalone Ambulance-only policy.

Does Medicare cover ambulance services?

No, Medicare does not provide ambulance services coverage even in the event of an emergency. Costs for the service vary from state to state, so it’s best to understand these in your state and consider private ambulance insurance to help you cover the costs.

What is covered?

Generally, Ambulance cover varies depending on your insurer, but typically you’ll be able to choose between one of the following types of ambulance services:

ambulance

Emergency

Unlimited or capped ambulance cover, for air and road transportation for emergencies only. This includes significant accidents, severe blood loss, broken bones, heart attacks and any sudden onset of pain.

ambulance 3

Comprehensive

Comprehensive options generally include on-the-spot emergency road, sea and air transport across Australia. Usually, transport between hospitals is also covered.

What is not covered?

Ambulance cover options do not cover air and road transport services that are not operated by a recognised State or Territory Government or organisation. Most ambulance only cover options don’t cover non-emergency ambulance transportation, for example, from a hospital to your home or ongoing medical treatment.

Ambulance cover by state

Queensland and Tasmania residents get state government ambulance cover while VICNSWSA, NT, ACT, or WA residents need to buy ambulance cover from either a private health fund, or through a state ambulance service.

StateCover forAverage cost
New South Wales (NSW emergency services)
  • Emergency and non-emergency ambulance transport
  • Emergency fixed wing
  • Emergency helicopter
Residents of NSW are only charged 51% of the actual cost of service as the NSW Government provides a 49% subsidy.
Emergency road:
  • call-out fee of $401
  • plus $3.62 per kilometer or part thereof
  • maximum charge $6,571
Non-emergency road:
  • call-out fee of $316
  • plus $1.95 per kilometer or part thereof
  • maximum charge $6,571
Emergency fixed wing/fixed wing:
  • call-out fee of $401
  • plus $3.62 per kilometer or part thereof
  • maximum charge $6,571
South Australia SA Ambulance Service subscription for residentsStandard cover:
  • Single = $88.50
  • Family = $176
  • Pensioner Single = $53.50
  • Pensioner Family = $106.00
Interstate coverage available for an extra $16 per year or $32 for families
Victoria (Ambulance Victoria cover)
  • Emergency road ambulance transport
  • Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance attendance and treatment
  • Emergency air ambulance and clinically necessary non-emergency air ambulance
  • Ambulance treatment when transport is not required
  • Clinically necessary non-emergency patient transport to the nearest medical facility based on pre-approval
  • Interstate ambulance cover and clinically necessary non-emergency patient transport to the nearest medical facility
  • $48.35 annual membership for singletons
  • $96.70 annual membership for families
Queensland (Queensland Ambulance Service)
  • Queensland has a number of emergency response services including ambulance services
  • Free to all residents
Western Australia (St John Ambulance Service, WA)
  • Ambulance service Emergency Rescue Helicopter service
Country Ambulance Cover is available with St John Ambulance Cover WA:
  • Starts at $57 for a single person living south of the 26th parallel
  • Starts at $75 for a single person living north of the 26th parallel
  • In Perth, users pay for ambulance services
Northern Territory (St John NT)
  • Emergency and non-emergency Ambulance transport
Individual:
  • $110 (year 1)
  • $180 (year 2)
  • $238 (year 3)
Family:
  • $130 (year 1)
  • $238 (year 2)
  • $335 (year 3)
Tasmania (Tasmanian ambulance service)
  • Emergency ambulance care and transport services and non-emergency patient transport
  • Fixed and rotary wing air ambulance services
  • Free to all residents
Australian Capital Territory (ACT Ambulance Service)
  • Emergency and non-emergency ambulance services
  • You’ll need private health insurance or ambulance-only cover if you want to avoid fees which range from $253 for non-emergency ambulance service to $982 for emergency ambulance services.

Source: Ambulance.nsw.gov.au, saambulance.com.au, ambulance.vic.gov.au, qld.gov.au, stjohnwa.com.au, stjohnnt.org.au, health.tas.gov.au, esa.act.gov.au (April 2021)

What happens to your cover when you travel out of your state?

Depending on which state you live in, you may not have 100% ambulance cover across the country or you may not have ambulance cover at all. If you plan to travel interstate, it’s best to check with your state ambulance service, concession card provider or health insurer about how you are covered. Private health insurance ambulance cover typically provides Australia-wide cover.

doctors ambulance

Compare ambulance insurance cover options

InsurerComparison
Bupa
Bupa
Ambulance only cover provides unlimited emergency ambulance services for all Australians in all states and territories by a Bupa recognised provider. You’ll be covered immediately; there is no waiting period for emergency ambulance services. For an extra fee, you can add up to $5,000 worth of non-emergency cover.
hcf
HCF
Ambulance cover only is available to NSW and ACT residents and covers unlimited emergency services and up to $5,000 non-emergency ambulance fees Australia wide. You’ll have to serve a 1 day waiting period for emergency ambulance and 2 months for non-emergency transportation.
medibank
Medibank
Provides ambulance only services for unlimited emergency ambulance transport Australia wide with a 1 day waiting period. However, non-emergency cover is not available, and where the state or territory scheme fully cover costs, no benefit will be paid.
NIB
NIB
When purchasing a nib hospital and/or extras cover policy, you’ll receive emergency ambulance transport with a 1-day waiting period.
HBF
HBF
You can get ambulance only cover for urgent ambulance transport by road in Western Australia with the option of non-urgent transportation for an additional fee. A 7-day waiting period from the date you join is applicable.

Source: Privatehealth.gov.au (April 2021)

How to get Ambulance cover?

State governments provide ambulance insurance for residents of Tasmania and Queensland. Residents of other states need to purchase ambulance coverage either from a private health insurer or their state ambulance service provider. To find the best option for your requirements, fill in the quote form below or call us at 1300 795 560 to speak with a specialist

Frequently asked questions

  • Is ambulance cover worth it?

    Generally, this depends on your personal requirements. Ambulance cover helps you to avoid the expense of emergency and non-emergency ambulance service. Health insurers may cover or reimburse you for all or part of your annual subscription to your state or territory ambulance authority, or the costs associated with ambulance transportation. It’s best to compare all of the options before making a decision.
  • Do I need private health insurance to get ambulance cover?

    No, private health insurers are not the only ones offering ambulance cover in Australia. You can get ambulance cover from the state ambulance authority operating in some states and territories.
  • Is ambulance cover free in Australia?

    No, some states in Australia might cover some or even all your ambulance fees, depending on your circumstances and the territory you live in. However, you’ll typically need to purchase a policy that covers amubulance services.
  • What does ambulance cover include?

    Ambulance insurance provides cover for the costs incurred when being treated by paramedics and transported in an ambulance.
  • Do pensioners get free ambulance cover Australia wide?

    Australian pensioners are generally eligible to receive free ambulance cover if they’re a valid concession card holder.

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