Ambulance Cover & Insurance in Australia
Many people mistakenly believe that the cost of an emergency ambulance call out is covered by Medicare, but unfortunately it's not. State governments in QLD and TAS will pick up the bill, but what about the rest of Australia?
For residents of NSW, ACT and Victoria, pensioners and concession card holders are entitled to ambulance services free of charge. In Western Australian, pensioners are exempt from paying ambulance fees. Additionally, all veterans in Australia who are DVA card holders receive free ambulance transport in the event of an emergency.
For others, the only way to ensure you don't pay the ambulance fee is to have private hospital insurance or to have an extras policy that includes ambulance cover. If you're not a permanent resident in NSW and need emergency transportation, you could be in for a nasty shock - the cost for non-residents is $786 (almost double the amount NSW residents pay, which is $410).
For NT, SA and VIC residents you can either subscribe to your state ambulance service or be covered through private hospital or extras insurance. For WA residents, if you're in the Metropolitan area of Perth you'll need private health insurance. For people who reside in the country, you can subscribe to St John Country Ambulance Cover (prices below), or sign up to another comprehensive country ambulance cover.
- Call-out charge: This is a standard fee charged every time you call an emergency ambulance.
- Per km charge: The add-on rate charged for every kilometre driven from the get-go, or after exceeding a certain number of kms. This distance is the total number of kms from the ambulance station to your address, to the destination, then after returning to the station.
Should I get health insurance or subscribe to my state's ambulance service?
A subscription to your local ambulance service varies by state, ranging from $48.35 for a single person in Victoria to $106 for a single person in the Northern Territory. This will cover the cost of call-out fees in case of an emergency situation. See below for yearly membership prices for each state's ambulance service.
$57 - $75
$95 - $125
*an additional charge applies for interstate ambulance coverage. Price correct as at 19/02/2021.
Ambulance cover in private health insurance
If you've decided you don't need private hospital insurance, you may want to consider an extras policy that includes ambulance cover. Extras insurance with emergency ambulance coverage included starts from as little as $12 - $13 per month for a single person. This works out to about $150 each year, but in addition to ambulance cover, you'll also be covered for several general treatment services like general dental and chiropractic therapy.
Mid-range policies ranging from $20 - $40 per month will cover you for even more things, like optical (if you wear glasses or contact lenses), complex dental and natural therapies. Given that it's recommended you visit a dentist at least once or twice a year, an extras policy with included ambulance cover is worth considering especially if you live in a state that has a high membership cost for the state ambulance service.