According to the Australian Government, between 2016-2017 there were about 4.3 million ambulance services responses1, which were deployed to treat 3.2 million patients.
However, depending on the state in which you live, you may not have ambulance cover. Additionally, if you have private health insurance, there’s a possibility that your policy limits, excludes or caps ambulance cover.
iSelect deals with some health funds that are able to offer comprehensive ambulance cover Australia wide*. Separate ambulance cover in Victoria could cost around $46 for a single person, and $92 per year for a family. Although, you could save money by including ambulance cover within your health insurance cover.
One of the most important things to remember about Ambulance services is that they’re not covered by Medicare. This includes both emergency transport and other ambulance services which you may need.
The main benefit of having Ambulance Cover is that it insures you against the costs of ambulance services. The average cost of emergency transport by ambulance is more than $1100 (VIC).
How a private health insurance policy treats Ambulance Cover differs with each provider. For example, some funds provide cover for all ambulance travel, whereas others may only cover the costs of ground travel, or include other limitations.
An example of a limitation is where your policy only covers you in your state of residence. Simply put, if you’re covered in Victoria, then there’s a chance you’re not covered if you need ambulance services while on holiday in Tasmania.
Another example of a limitation is when a policy doesn’t cover ‘call out’ fees. These are when an ambulance treats you at the scene, but doesn’t transport you to hospital. For this reason it’s important to get clear on the details of your Ambulance Cover policy.
As mentioned earlier, depending on which state you live in, you may not have 100% Australia wide ambulance cover, or you may not have ambulance cover at all.
In Queensland and Tasmania, Ambulance Cover is covered by the state Government (but only if you are a resident). Therefore, if you live in Vic, NSW, SA, NT, ACT, or WA, you’ll need to purchase Ambulance Insurance either through a private health fund, or through a state ambulance service. However, Ambulance Cover in Victoria is free for pensioners and low-income earners.
Whether you qualify for a discount, and whether or not you need cover at all depends on the state you live in. Therefore, it’s important to remember that in many cases Ambulance Cover only applies while you’re in your home state, and may not apply if you’re interstate.
You’ll need to review the individual aspects of your policy to better understand how your cover is affected by interstate travel.
Interstate Travel: One consideration is if the policy covers you when travelling interstate.
Non-Emergency Cover: Another one is if the policy only covers you for emergency situations, or if it also includes coverage for non-emergency situations. Different health funds can define an “emergency” differently, so this is something you’ll want to get clarity on.
Call-Out Fees: As mentioned before, some policies may or may not cover you for the “call-out” fee. So it’s important to discover how your policy covers you if you require just ambulance treatment, and not transportation.
Other Considerations: Lastly there are three final points to consider in relation to Ambulance Cover. The first is if there are any waiting periods. Secondly, you need to discover if there are any co-payments towards the ambulance fee? Thirdly, you need to find out if the Ambulance Cover will also cover air ambulance, as well as transports provided by State-approved private providers, or other private providers.
Like we discussed earlier, ambulance costs can vary from state to state. The table below breaks down the various costs of emergency transport. This gives you an idea of what you could pay if you’re not covered, and you require emergency ambulances services.
|State||Emergency Transport||Charge Per KM|
|ACT||$959||+$13/km for every km travelled outside the ACT|
|NSW||$382||$3.44 variable rate p/km|
|VIC||$1,234 (metro) and $1,820 (for regional)||NA|
|WA||$967 (for life threatening-urgent conditions)||NA|
|NT||$745.00||$5.10 per km|
Each state offers different Ambulance Cover concessions. For instance, pensioner concession card holders are more often than not granted free ambulance cover. Additionally, residents in Queensland and Tasmania have state funded Ambulance Cover. Take a look at the table below to the view the arrangements for your state.
|State||Concession Ambulance Cover Arrangements|
|Australian Capital Territory (ACT)||If you’re a Health Care Concession Cardand Pensioner Concession Card holder, then you’re entitled to free emergency ambulance services. However, if you’re not eligible for a concession and you’d like Ambulance Cover, you can purchase it from a private health fund, or through the state ambulance service.|
|New South Wales (NSW)||Free ambulance transport services are available to Health Care Concession Card, Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Gold Card and White Card holders. However, if you’re not eligible for a concession and you’d like Ambulance Cover, you can purchase it from a private health fund, or through the state ambulance service.|
|Northern Territory (NT)||If you’re a Pensioner Concession Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holder then you’re entitled to free ambulance transport services. However, if you’re not eligible for a concession and you’d like Ambulance Cover, you can purchase it from a private health fund, or through the state ambulance service.|
|Queensland (QLD)||Queensland residents aren’t charged for ambulance services. The state government covers these costs.|
|South Australia (SA)||If you’d like Ambulance Cover, you can purchase it from a private health fund, or through the state ambulance service.|
|Tasmania (TAS)||Tasmanians aren’t charged for ambulance services. The state government covers these costs, however they are only covered within their state. If you like Australia wide Ambulance Cover, you can purchase it from a private health fund.|
|Victoria (VIC)||If you’re a Pensioner Concession Card and Healthcare Card holder, then you’re entitled to free ambulance services in Victoria. However, if you’re not eligible for a concession and you’d like Ambulance Cover, you can purchase it from a private health fund, or through the state ambulance service.|
|Western Australia (WA)||If you’re an Aged Pensioner concession holder, then you’re possibly entitled to free ambulance transport services. However, if you’re not eligible for a concession and you’d like Ambulance Cover, you can purchase it from a private health fund, or through the state ambulance service.|
|All Of Australia||If you’re a Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card holder, then you’re covered for state ambulance services in every state by the Department.|
If you’re thinking of purchasing Ambulance Cover as part of your private health insurance, feel free to give us a call on 13 19 20. We’d be happy to walk you through your options.
*The provision of ambulance cover when using ambulance services will be subject to the terms and conditions of your policy.
1. Australian Government Productivity Commission
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