What is ambulance cover?
Ambulance insurance covers certain expenses incurred when being treated by paramedics and transported in ambulances. Emergency transportation and ambulance services are essential for urgent medical care, but are not covered by Medicare.
According to the Productivity Commission’s report on government emergency services for 2015-16, there were 3.4 million emergency incidents recorded. This resulted in 4.3 million ambulance service responses attending to 3.2 million patients across Australia. With a population of roughly 24 million people, that’s a lot of Aussies relying on this crucial service we often take for granted.
Unfortunately, there is no way (yet) of predicting the future, so if you don’t want to be left with a hefty ambulance bill, you may want to consider taking out ambulance cover.
Do Queenslanders and Tasmanians have to take out ambulance cover?
Ambulance costs are covered by the Queensland and Tasmanian state governments, so you are not required to organise your own cover if you reside within either of these two states.
Your ambulance coverage in Queensland extends across the entire country too, so that’s one less thing Sunshine State residents won’t need to worry about when holidaying interstate. If you do need to claim for treatment in another state or territory, you can do so by forwarding any invoices you receive, as well as proof of Queensland residency, to the Queensland Ambulance Service.
Ambulance Tasmania provides a free service to Tasmanian residents within the state and its islands. The only exemptions from free ambulance cover are those related to motor vehicle or workplace accidents where insurance provisions cover costs, including cases involving veterans where the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) meets the cost of ambulance transport.
What should you know about ambulance cover in ACT and NSW?
If you reside in (or close to) the nation’s capital, chances are you’ll need to take out ambulance cover unless you’re a specific concession card holder or meet certain criteria requirements respective to the ACT Ambulance Service’s terms and conditions. These specified groups are entitled to free ambulance services throughout the ACT, and would not require separate ambulance cover.
For anybody living in New South Wales it’s worth noting that you’re only billed “51% of the actual (emergency service) charge, as the NSW government subsidises the service for its residents” if you don’t have cover, according to Ambulance Service of NSW. However, when you glance at the table below, you’ll see that 51% could still end up being costly if you don’t have ambulance cover.
Anyone not eligible for free ambulance services should consider taking out cover through a registered Australian health fund. Fortunately, emergency ambulance cover is included under policies widely available in ACT and NSW, so you can enjoy these benefits alongside a health insurance policy tailored to you.
What cover should residents in VIC, NT, SA, and WA take out?
If you reside in Victoria, the Northern Territory, South Australia, or Western Australia, you can organise ambulance cover through an ambulance authority respective to your state/territory or through a registered health fund. Additionally, Victorians who hold a current concession card (Pensioner Concession Card, Healthcare Card) are entitled to free ambulance cover.
What to expect if you don’t have ambulance cover
If you currently do not have ambulance cover, some of the potential costs you could pay in the event of an emergency are troublesome (in addition to sickness or injury).
|State/Territory||Callout fee||Per kilometre charges||Current as of:|
|ACT||$936.00 (treatment & transport)||$12 per km travelled outside of ACT||1 July 2017|
|NSW||$372.00||$3.35||1 July 2017|
|NT||$745.00||$4.80||1 September 2015|
|SA||$955.00||$5.50||1 July 2017|
|VIC||$1,204.00 (Metropolitan Emergency Road)
$1,776 (Regional and Rural Emergency Road)
|N/A||1 July 2017|
|WA||$949.00 (life threatening/urgent conditions)||N/A||Unknown|
What types of ambulance cover are available?
Many health insurers include ambulance cover as part of their policies (depending on the state or territory you take cover in). Alternatively, you may be able take this cover out on its own, although you would then miss out on some of the great benefits of health insurance, like dental cover and private hospital rooms.
There are two types of ambulance cover available (emergency and comprehensive) through registered health funds, with both types varying depending on your policy brochure. Some offer cover for all ambulance transportation, while others may only provide for ground travel. Others may set further limitations, such as, cover in your state of residence only, or may not cover call out fees associated when an ambulance treats you at the scene without transporting you to hospital.
What should you look out for with ambulance cover?
It is important to be aware of any other limitations on your policy. For example, does the cover include all forms of emergency transport, or is it only for ground services? Does your policy cover ‘call out’ fees (when the ambulance treats you at the scene but isn’t required to transport you to hospital)? Make sure you read the policy description carefully to understand your entitlements and restrictions.
Ambulance cover for pensioners
Are pensioners covered for ambulance insurance?
Depending on your state of residence, most ambulance transport services and treatments are covered for pensioners across the country. Please note that the information provided only applies in your state of residence and may not apply if you are interstate (unless you’re lucky enough to be a Queenslander).
Information and provisions regarding pensioner’s ambulance cover is listed by states and territories below: