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Understanding the Cost of Ambulance Services in Australia

An ambulance ensures that patients receive the urgent care they require as fast as possible. It can often mean they are transporting the patient from their location to a nearby hospital or even performing emergency on-site treatment. There is no doubt that ambulance services are exceptionally important, especially since we

Megan Fraser

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Published: 23 October 2023

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Understanding the cost of ambulance services will assist you in preparing for unforeseen situations. Knowing the possible out-of-pocket costs and how health insurance providers can assist with fees can greatly lower the overall costs you may face. The cost of an ambulance service varies greatly based on location, health insurance policy, and even emergency type. This blog will explore these costs, how they fluctuate, and how different health insurance companies in Australia aim to assist.

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The Structure of Ambulance Costs in Australia

As mentioned before, the cost of an ambulance service will vary based on location and emergency type. To understand how the cost is structured, first, we need to explore the two types of patient scenarios: emergencies and non-emergencies.

An emergency is when a patient requires immediate assistance due to a situation that could be life-threatening. In these instances, the ambulance service will either try to urgently get the patient to the hospital or perform on-site treatment to stabilise the patient before transporting them to the closest hospital.

A non-emergency would refer to situations that are not necessarily life-threatening but assist you in receiving the necessary transportation. This could be instances such as food poisoning where the patient does not have the strength to transport themselves to the hospital.

The other factors affecting your ambulance service’s cost are state guidelines, call-out fees, per-kilometre charges, and other additional costs for specialised medical services. If you live in a remote area, it may take the ambulance longer to get to you, and the charges may increase along with the per-kilometre costs.

How Health Insurance Affects Ambulance Costs

Depending on your chosen health insurance provider, and the policy that you have taken out, there may or may not be cover for ambulance costs. Some health insurance providers include this cover in their policies, while others may require you to take out an additional policy, combined policy, or specialised extras cover for ambulance services.

Based on your insurance provider, the out-of-pocket cost that you may incur can vary greatly. Some insurance providers pay the complete amount for state emergency ambulance transport, while others may have a predetermined amount that is paid toward the overall cost. The coverage received could also vary based on the emergency or non-emergency situation.

It is crucial that every policyholder speaks to their private health insurer about these costs and how it may affect them. While a policy may provide holders with a certain level of ambulance service coverage, this may not apply to them based on their locationKnowing what is and isn’t covered by your insurer assists you in knowing the costs before a situation arises.

State-by-State Guide to Ambulance Costs

Now that we have discussed the ambulance cost structure, how it works, and how health insurance providers may assist, let’s have a closer look at each state and how ambulance costs may vary across the country.

Ambulance Costs in New South Wales

The ambulance cost in New South Wales varies based on whether the patient is a resident of New South Wales or not. Residents of New South Wales have a maximum charge of $7,023, while non-residents do not have a maximum charge. For residents and non-residents of New South Wales, the road ambulance cost is as follows:

The cost for fixed-wing ambulance services in New Wales is as follows:

The cost for a helicopter ambulance is as follows:

The New South Wales government provides a 49% subsidy for residents. A patient is also considered a non-resident if they are an interstate, overseas, or workers’ compensation patient.

Understanding Ambulance Services Fees in Victoria

In Victoria, free ambulance trips are available for those with a Pensioner Concession Card or Health Care Card in clinically necessary situations. The cost of ambulance services will vary based on where you reside in Victoria. Victoria is divided into two main subsections:Metro Victoria and Regional or Rural Victoria.

Victoria does not subsidise emergency ambulance services, so choosing a policy that covers ambulance costs could greatly assist you in lowering expected costs.

No-Cost Ambulance Services in Queensland

In Queensland, permanent residents receive ambulance transport nationally for free. Non-residents may have to pay for these ambulance services, although many exemptions may apply. Some of these exemptions may include:

Navigating Ambulance Costs in South Australia

Patients with valid South Australian Pension Concession cards may be eligible for concession on fees associated with ambulance services in South Australia.  The average cost for ambulance services in South Australia is as follows:

For non-residents of South Australia, these standard average prices will apply. To lower these out-of-pocket costs, securing a policy that provides ample ambulance coverage would greatly assist in preparing for unforeseen situations.

Ambulance Service Fees in Western Australia

If a patient is a Western Australian aged pensioner, they will be exempt from all ambulance costs associated with the situation. The average call-out fee for an emergency ambulance service in Western Australia is $1072. For non-emergency ambulance services, the average cost is around $609. Having private health insurance that covers the cost associated with Western Australia’s ambulance services can greatly lower out-of-pocket costs.

Understanding Ambulance Costs in Tasmania

If you are a resident of Tasmania, costs associated with ambulance services are waived, meaning you do not have to pay for them. Tasmania’s government will also pay for emergency road ambulance services in some states. States that may not be included in this ambulance cover are South Australia and Queensland. 

Ambulance cover may be necessary if you are a resident of Tasmania and travel between states often. While some states may be covered, these costs could vary greatly based on the situation and location.

Ambulance Services in the Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, the average cost of a non-emergency ambulance is around $370, while the cost of an emergency ambulance is around $815. If the ambulance needs to travel more than 10 kilometres, there is a cost of $5.25 per KM. Northern Territory residents who are Nothern Territory concession cardholders may receive free ambulance transport within this state.

Navigating Ambulance Costs in the Australian Capital Territory

Residents of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) must pay their ambulance service costs. These costs may be waived in any of the following situations:

The average call-out cost of an emergency ambulance in ACT is $1032. If the ambulance needs to travel out of ACT, there is an additional $14 per KM travelled that is added to the bill. For emergency treatment services that do not include transport, the average a patient can expect to pay is $715.

Tips for Managing Ambulance Costs

There are many ways to manage ambulance costs. Some of these solutions may include: 

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Many different countries have different payment styles. Some countries require you to pay for the ambulance service once you have used it. Others require you to pay a monthly insurance premium, in which case the insurer covers the bill. Some countries also take a percentage of your salary monthly, and when an ambulance is needed, the government pays for it.

Yes. Each Health Insurance Provider will have different policies and methods of including ambulance coverage in the total coverage of the policy. It is always crucial to speak to your insurer about this coverage type, what the benefits are, how it covers you if an ambulance is needed, or even how to get ambulance coverage with your health insurance policy.

There are many instances in which one may be unable to afford the ambulance bill. This can often be a result of extremely high rates in certain states. When this occurs, there are many different avenues that you could explore. For example, in Victoria, you may apply for Hardship Assistance. With this, the Victorian government assists you in exploring possible governmental concessions you may be eligible for and setting up flexible payment arrangements. Based on your state or territory, there are always structures in place to assist you in paying off the bill at a comfortable rate.

Concession patients will receive their ambulance services for free across Australia. There are certain states, such as Tasmania, in which residents do not have to pay for the ambulance costs. There are also states such as ACT that provide exemptions in certain instances, such as motor accidents on ACT roads and more. Knowing your state guidelines and government concession eligibility will greatly assist you in preparing for an unforeseen circumstance.

Depending on your state, there are official government websites that provide you with all the information that you will need. These websites are reliable and updated frequently to ensure that you receive the correct information. Occasionally checking into these websites will allow you to monitor any notable changes that may occur within your state.

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Megan has extensive experience writing about health and life insurance in Australia. Megan has a special interest in health and wellness. She relies on her background in counselling psychology to convey the latest findings in a manner that is most beneficial to ComparingExperts readers. In every article she writes, Megan aims to uphold the standards of the Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association (PHIAA) which ComparingExpert is part of.

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