Australia’s public health system covers you for the the treatments you receive in hospital, but it does not cover you for emergency ambulance services. So how much does an ambulance cost in Australia?
The cost of these services is up to individual states and territories; you might be surprised to learn how expensive it can be.
There’s good news if you’re a resident of Queensland or Tasmania: in these states, emergency ambulance services are free. Live in the rest of the country? It could cost you a pretty penny if you don’t have ambulance cover.
Avoiding Ambulance Fees With Ambulance Cover
If you live in a state that charges an ambulance callout fee, don’t panic. You can avoid these fees by purchasing ambulance cover. Policy specifics vary by fund, but here are some of the features that may be included:
- Emergency ambulance treatment
- Emergency ambulance transport
- Transport by air ambulance
- Interstate ambulance cover
When comparing ambulance cover, check on exactly what’s included and whether or not your benefits are capped. Certain people, including concession card holders, may also be eligible for free or reduced ambulance services.
How Much Does An Ambulance Cost in Australia?
Emergency ambulance services are what you access when you call 000. These are not the same as patient transport services, which is what happens when a non-urgent patient is transferred from one location to another. These services are often booked in advance; for example, if someone is transported from a retirement home to a hospital for a scheduled treatment.
Each state and territory sets its own price for emergency ambulance services. This may be a flat callout fee, or a callout fee plus a per-kilometre fee.
Australian Capital Territory
Emergency treatment and transport: $959 + $13 for every km travelled outside the ACT
Emergency treatment not including transport: $665
Fees and charges are reviewed annually and approved by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services.
New South Wales
Emergency callout for NSW residents: $382 + $3.44 per km
Maximum charge for NSW residents: $6,258
Emergency callout for non-NSW residents: $748 + $6.75 per km
Maximum charge does not apply
Emergency ambulance fees are subsidised for NSW residents, who only pay 51% of the actual cost. Residents of other states and territories will be charged the full amount.
Life Threatening Emergency Callout: $790 for first 10 kms
$790 + $5.10 per km for patient travel greater than 10 kms
Non-Life Threatening Emergency Callout: $360 for first 10 kms
$360 + $5.10 per km for patient travel greater than 10 kms
The NT’s ambulance services are run by St John Ambulance Australia. According to their website, emergency ambulance fees are usually around $745 to $1000. Residents can purchase ambulance cover through St John or a private health fund.
Residents of Queensland are covered for emergency ambulance treatment and transport in Queensland and in other Australian states and territories.
Emergency callout fee: $976 + $5.60 per km
Treat no transport: $218
Residents of SA can purchase ambulance cover through SA Ambulance Service or through a private health fund.
Residents of Tasmania are covered for emergency ambulance services in the state of Tasmania. The state has reciprocal agreements with NSW, ACT, NT, WA, and VIC. Tasmanians will have to pay for emergency ambulance services received in QLD and SA.
Emergency road transport fee (metro): $1234
Emergency road transport fee (regional/rural): $1820
Treatment without transport (metro/regional/rural): $532
Fixed wing air transport fees: $2,188 (variable) or $2,959 (fixed)
Rotary air transport fees: $11,005 (variable) or $26,197 (fixed)
When in-state air transport is required, any applicable road transport is billed separately. Fees do not apply for interstate transports. Residents of Victoria can purchase ambulance cover from Ambulance Victoria or through a private health fund.
Life threatening or urgent emergency callout (Perth): $967
Non-urgent emergency callout (Perth): $520
St John Ambulance operates ambulance services in the state of WA. Metro and regional residents of WA can purchase ambulance cover through St John or a private health fund.
What Happens If I Don’t Have Ambulance Cover?
If you don’t have ambulance cover and you are not eligible for a reduced fee or exemption, you will receive an invoice for the emergency ambulance services. Fees are payable even if you did not ask for or consent to the service.
Emergency services personnel have a duty of care to treat and transport those who need it, which means that people may not always be able to consent to the services. In this case, you may find yourself faced with a bill that you did not ask for.
Ambulance cover can help you avoid this situation, so you don’t have to ask How much does an ambulance cost in Australia? No one should have to hesitate before calling 000 for fear that they might not be able to afford the emergency ambulance services.
With ambulance cover, you have the peace of mind that you’re covered, and won’t be hit with a large bill for services should you need them.