The Cost of an Ambulance Ride

Emergency Care

ambulance care

 

Just like an insurance policy on your house, we know we need ambulance cover but hope we never collect on it. Unfortunately accidents and other medical emergencies happen and an ambulance needs to be called to transfer patients to hospital quickly while providing care. Patients being transferred between hospitals and medical appointments may also require an ambulance.

The ambulance is often the first of many medical bills. But exactly what does it cost to take a trip in an ambulance? You may be surprised how much it varies from state to state.

Ambulance Service Providers

Each state and territory has its own ambulance service.

NSW - Ambulance NSW

Victoria - Ambulance Victoria

Western Australia - St John’s Ambulance

South Australia - South Australian Ambulance Service

ACT- ACT Ambulance Service

Queensland - Queensland Ambulance Service

Tasmania - Ambulance Tasmania

Northern Territory - St John NT

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Costs around the Country

In some states ambulance services are provided by the state government while others are private entities. Some state governments cover or subsidise the cost of ambulance trips. These factors impact on the cost of the service.   

The NSW state government subsidises the cost of emergency and transport ambulance trips by 49%. If you’re a pensioner or low income earner you may receive free ambulance cover. There is a call-out fee plus a per kilometre charge. The kilometres are calculated on the round trip between the ambulance station, pick-up address, destination and return to the station.

In ACT if you’re a pensioner or low income earner you may receive free ambulance cover. All other residents should consider having ambulance cover.

In Victoria no one receives free or subsidised ambulance trips so it is recommended that all residents have ambulance cover.  

In Western Australia pensioners and low income earners may be entitled to subsidised ambulance trips but everyone else should consider taking out cover.

In South Australia there are no free or subsidised ambulance trips so it is recommended that all residents take out cover.

In Northern Territory no subsidies are available so it is recommended that all residents have ambulance cover.

In Queensland and Tasmania the state governments pay for all ambulance services. Residents are not covered outside their state.

Calculating the Cost of Ambulance Trips

Ambulance services all charge differently. In some states the fee can be made up of a call-out charge plus a per kilometre charge for the round trip from the ambulance station to pick-up address, destination of drop-off and return to the station. Other states charge standard fees based on the type of care required. Urgent and life-threatening trips are the highest cost and non-urgent and patient transfers are less expensive. If a witness to an accident calls for an ambulance but the injured person decides not to travel, they may still be liable for the cost of the ambulance to attend.  

While the cost of a trip may seem high so are the costs involved in setting up and operating an ambulance.

Firstly there are the two highly skilled, medically trained paramedics travelling in the ambulance and treating patients. The vehicle has a range of expensive add-ons that make BMW’s after-sale extras look cheap. The state of the art medical equipment, stretcher, resources, lights and branding all add up to a princely sum before the ambulance has left the depot on its first call-out. The cost of medical supplies such as oxygen and drugs which often have a short lifespan due to expiry all add to the daily operating costs of the ambulance service.  

Not all ambulances are the same and every state has their own fleet of ambulances designed to serve all situations that may arise. There are ambulances for providing non-emergency patient transport, standard ambulances for attending the majority of call-outs, mobile intensive care ambulances and also the air ambulance service which may be a fixed wing plane or helicopter.  

Ambulance Cover Health Insurance

Some health insurance companies in Australia charge an additional fee for ambulance cover. At HIF we believe ambulance cover should be included in your policy. So if you take out Saver Options, Special Options, Super Options or Premium Options Extra Cover, you’ll be covered for unlimited urgent ambulance at no extra cost, and non-urgent ambulance for a small $50 co-payment.

Please note:

  • Benefits are not payable for inter-hospital transportation except for inter-hospital transfers relating to an emergency or new illness where approved on a case by case basis by HIF.
  • Benefits are not payable for transportation from a hospital to your home, nursing home or other hospital, or for transportation for ongoing medical treatment.
  • Benefits are not payable for off road or air ambulance.

Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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