Find Ambulance Cover in New South Wales (NSW)

Published: February 25, 2019

Whether moving to or living in New South Wales, everyone usually needs ambulance cover, unless you qualify for an exemption.

NSW residents are liable for 51% of the costs for ambulance services; this includes the on-scene assessment and/or transport. The New South Wales Government subsidises the remaining 49%. However, in some instances, ambulance services are provided free of charge, for example, if you have a Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card or private health insurance.

Find out how much an ambulance costs in NSW, whether you qualify for an exemption and which providers offer ambulance cover suited to your requirements and budget.

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Does Medicare cover ambulance services in NSW?

No, ambulance services are not covered by Australia’s public health system, Medicare. While the New South Wales government pays 49% of your ambulance fees, you either need private health insurance to cover the outstanding 51% or will have to pay it out of your pocket.

Even if someone else calls an ambulance for you and you refuse the service, you still have to pay the call-out fee. You might want to consider an NSW private health insurance option, to prevent additional out-of-pocket expenses.

Do you need ambulance cover in NSW?

Generally, yes, if you’re one of the 7.95 million people living in New South Wales, chances are you need ambulance cover because it’s not typically free. Even though around half of ambulance services in New South Wales are provided to people aged 65 and older, anyone might at one point in their lives need an ambulance.

According to the Road Safety Transport for NSW, in 2018 there were over 11,000 serious road injuries that resulted in hospitalisation. Moreover, it’s not just road accidents that might result in you needing an ambulance, even going to the beach can be dangerous.

Ambulances were requested 564 times in 2018 by Surf Life Saving Clubs in New South Wales to transport patients to the hospital. Dislocation, fractures and sprains were the most common injuries requiring ambulance assistance.

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How much does ambulance services cost in New South Wales?

For residents, NSW emergency road and air ambulance services will generally cost $382 per call out fee, plus an additional $3.44 per kilometer, as at 1 July 2018. Emergency ambulance usually includes accidents, illnesses and injuries. However, for non-emergencies, like transportation between health facilities, you can expect a call out fee of $301 and an additional $1.86 per kilometre.

Kilometres charged are generally calculated on the round-trip distance from the ambulance station closest to the patient, to where the patient is located, to the patient’s destination and back to the ambulance station.

Remember, if you're a resident you will receive a 49% subsidy, but you are responsible for the remaining 51%.

2018 to 2019 Ambulance fees for non-NSW residents

Ambulance service Charges
Emergency call out $748
Emergency per km $6.75
Non-emergency call out $1.86
Non-emergency per km $38.49
Source: NSW Ambulance Fact Sheet

Take note: If you are a Queensland resident, then your NSW ambulance costs will typically be covered under the Queensland Community Ambulance Cover scheme.

What is NSW ambulance patient transport?

Patient Transport Services (PTS) refers to non-emergency ambulance services required for patients who need to be taken to or from a health facility, like a hospital. Before you are granted PTS, a medical practitioner or registered nurse must assess you and state that you are medically unsuitable for community, public or private transport. PTS used to be known as Non-Emergency Patient Transport (NEPT).

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Who is exempt from paying the NSW 51% ambulance fee?

Ambulance services might be free for residents living in New South Wales when you:

  • Have a Health Care Card, Pension Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card, or Repatriation White or Gold card.
  • Are covered by private health insurance or ambulance only cover.
  • Are a student receiving group or school contribution.
  • Receive ambulance services from workers compensation, motor accident or third-party insurance claim.
  • Require an ambulance after a sexual assault or following domestic violence or child abuse.
  • Receive financial assistance under the Children and Young Person's Act 1998, or you're a child or young person in the care of the State.
  • Were taken to a declared mental health facility because it was thought you might need to be involuntarily detained.
  • Were in a motor vehicle accident on a public road within NSW and the accident involved an NSW registered vehicle.
  • Receive payment from the Lifetime Care and Support Scheme.

Important: Please call the relevant service provider above to make sure you are fully covered for both emergency and non-emergency ambulance services. For example, people with a Repatriation White or Gold card won’t be covered for non-emergencies.

How to pay your account

You can pay your bill online by visiting the Ambulance Service of New South Wales website and selecting ‘Paying an Account’ under the Account & Fees option:

  • If you have private health cover, you’ll need to provide your health fund details and membership number.
  • Pensioners need to provide their pension number.

If you do not pay your bill, it will be referred to the State Debt Recovery Office, and they will take the necessary actions.

Where to get the best NSW ambulance cover?

The best ambulance service provider in New South Wales is the one that can provide you with both emergency and non-emergency transport at an affordable price. When you review policies, make sure to find out whether they’ll cover the cost of the call-out fee and kilometres charged, and if you’ll have to make any co-payments.

Generally, comprehensive ambulance services are included within a health fund's Extras policy. However, your level of protection, annual limit and the waiting period may vary from insurer to insurer.

Some of the cheapest Extras ambulance coverage in NSW

Health fund and Extras policy Waiting period Monthly premium
HCF - Bronze Extras 1 day $15.65 – No annual limit
BUPA - Bronze Extras 0 days $26.05 – Limited to 1 service per year
CUA – Essential Extras 1 day $30.25 – No annual limit
Peoplecare – Simple Extras 0 days $30.78 – No annual limit
Medibank – Healthy Start Extras 1 day $32.40 – No annual limit

The above premiums were calculated on a singles adult, living in North South Wales, purchasing Extras only coverage (February 2019). The premium does not consider any rebates, LHC loading or Medicare Levy Surcharge.

Take note: Although the above Extras options all provide comprehensive ambulance coverage, the other general treatments that are included, for example dental, physio and optical, are different and should be considered before you decide to purchase a policy. Compare policies from some of the most significant health funds in Australia to get a better idea of the type of cover best suited to you and your family's requirements.

What if you have NSW cover, but need an ambulance when in another state?

As an NSW resident, you could forward your bill to your state government, upon which they'll generally pay 49% of the account, with you being responsible for the remaining 51%. If you have NSW ambulance cover from a private health insurer, whether or not you'll be covered Australia-wide depends on the type and level of policy you have and with which health fund. This is the reason why it’s so important to ask your insurer whether you’ll be covered Australia-wide before you purchase a policy. Once you receive your policy documents, be sure to carefully review when cover might not be available and whether it’s capped at a certain amount.


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Ask an Expert?


  • Tubby |

    Can l get ambulance cover without private health insurance

      Anneke Van Aswegen |


      Yes, you can generally purchase ambulance cover directly from the state government, for example, The Ambulance Service of New South Whales, or whichever territory you reside in.