Written by Hannah Twiggs

The most expensive taxi they’ll ever take: Aussies ignorant about ambulance costs

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Hannah Twiggs

With 4.3 million ambulance service responses in 2015-2016[1] and 7.8 million emergency department hospitalisations in 2016-17[2], ambulance is a service most Aussies will use at least once in their lives.

Yet a new survey has revealed many could be left with huge bill shock after an ambulance ride. Incredibly, almost half (49%) of Australians surveyed thought an ambulance trip was free or up to a third of the actual cost.

The survey of an independent, nationally representative panel of 1500 Australian adults[3] was commissioned by leading financial comparison service comparethemarket.com.au to discover how many Australians actually knew the cost of an ambulance trip.

In Australia, ambulances are only covered by the State Government if you live in Queensland or Tasmania. In Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and the ACT, the cost is close to $1000 per ride. Worryingly, 25 per cent of survey respondents believed that ambulances were free for emergencies across all states.

How do residents in each State compare?

The survey revealed that 60 per cent of New South Wales residents living 5km from the nearest hospital believed an ambulance ride would be under $300 or entirely free. In reality, the call out fee for New South Wales alone is $372, with an additional $3.35-per-kilometre charge capped at $6095[4].

The costs for Victorians and South Australians are even higher, with an ambulance bill coming in at $1204[5] and at least $955[6] respectively. Yet 55 per cent of Victorians and 32 per cent of South Australians believed costs were free or under $500.

Ambulance costs in both Western Australia[7] and the ACT[8] are over $900, yet 49 per cent of West Australians and 41 per cent of ACT residents believed an ambulance trip was free or under $500.

Abigail Koch, household savings and health cover expert at comparethemarket.com.au, said: “An ambulance is the busiest and most expensive taxi we’ll ever take. We hope that we’ll never need one. Should we require a trip to the hospital, including the additional fees for medical treatment and care, many of us could be left with skyrocketing bills after a health incident.”

“With the cost of a single ambulance ride close to $1000, it is vital Australians are covered for ambulance costs to avoid being stung with exorbitant medical bills. Depending on your budget, you can opt for ambulance cover as a standalone policy, or include it within your private hospital cover. This means you can enjoy the best of both worlds by not only avoiding costly ambulance fees, but also long public hospital waiting lists. To find a level of ambulance cover that is right for you – and your budget – compare policies on comparethemarket.com.au.”

 

Ambulance costs in Australia
State Perception of costs by survey respondents Actual cost
National 25% believe a trip is free for emergencies

49% believe a trip is up to $300

Varies by state
NSW 46% believe a trip is free or under $300

60% of residents living 5km from a hospital think it’s free or under $300

$372 + $3.35/km[9]
Vic 37% believe a trip is free or under $300

55% believe a trip is free or under $500

$1204[10]
SA 32% believe a trip is free or under $500

33% of residents living 10km from a hospital think it’s free or under $500

$955 + $5.50/km[11]
WA 34% think a trip is free or under $300

49% think it’s free or under $500

$949[12]
ACT 22% think a trip is free or under $300

41% think it’s free or under $500

$936 + $12/km travelled outside of ACT[13]
QLD 35% didn’t know ambulances are free Free
Tas 42% didn’t know ambulances are free Free

 

For interviews and more information, please contact:
Neneh McGuire | +61 2 9279 3330 | +61 404 433 263|
nmcguire@theideassuite.com.au 

About comparethemarket.com.au
Comparethemarket.com.au is an online comparison service that takes the hard work out of shopping around. We help Australians to quickly and easily compare and buy products from a wide range of providers. Our easy-to-use comparison tool enables consumers to find a product that best suits their needs and their back pocket. We’re also in the business of comparing personal finance products, utilities and can help find the lowest fuel prices in your area. Whether it’s car, health or home & contents insurance, we provide a completely free service, that empowers Australians to make buying decisions with greater trust, knowledge and savings. We’ve got your back, simples.

 

[1] Productivity Commission, Report on Government Services, 2017 http://www.pc.gov.au/research/ongoing/report-on-government-services/2017/health/ambulance-services/rogs-2017-volumee-chapter11.pdf

[2] Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, Emergency Department Care 2016-17 https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/981140ee-3957-4d47-9032-18ca89b519b0/aihw-hse-194.pdf.aspx?inline=true

[3] Survey conducted by Pureprofile

[4] Ambulance Service of NSW, Fees & Charges, 2017 http://www.ambulance.nsw.gov.au/Accounts–Fees/Fees-and-Charges.html

[5] Health.vic, Ambulance Fees, 2017 https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/hospitals-and-health-services/patient-care/ambulance-and-nept/ambulance-fees

[6] SA Ambulance Service, Ambulance Fees, 2017 http://www.saambulance.com.au/ProductsServices/Ambulancefees.aspx

[7] St John Ambulance, Metro Ambulance Fees, 2017 http://www.stjohnambulance.com.au/ambulance-and-health-services/metro-ambulance-service/metro-ambulance-fees

[8] ACT Ambulance Service, Fees & Charges, 2017 http://esa.act.gov.au/actas/fees-and-charges/

[9] Ambulance Service of NSW, Fees & Charges, 2017 http://www.ambulance.nsw.gov.au/Accounts–Fees/Fees-and-Charges.html

[10] State of Victoria, Ambulance Fees, 2017 https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/hospitals-and-health-services/patient-care/ambulance-and-nept/ambulance-fees

[11] SA Ambulance Service, Ambulance Fees, 2017 http://www.saambulance.com.au/ProductsServices/Ambulancefees.aspx

[12] St John Ambulance, Metro Ambulance Fees, 2017 http://www.stjohnambulance.com.au/ambulance-and-health-services/metro-ambulance-service/metro-ambulance-fees

[13] ACT Ambulance Service, Fees & Charges, 2017 http://esa.act.gov.au/actas/fees-and-charges/

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