Why so Many Australians Are in the Dark About Ambulance Costs

Emergency Care

HIF Australia

Calling an ambulance is one of those things every Australian hopes they never need to do. Luckily, most of us can probably get through life without ever needing one. However, if the time came, we’d all know what to do. Dial 000, answer the questions asked by the person on the other end of the line, then direct them to your location. But there’s one big part of calling an ambulance that many of us don’t seem to understand – the cost.

The findings

New research conducted by finder.com.au shows that 1 in 3 Australians wrongly believe ambulances are free because they’re covered by Medicare. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and an ambulance call-out can cost thousands of dollars in some circumstances. The findings, which came from a survey of 2,085 Australians, found that 30% – the equivalent of 5.7 million people – think that ambulance costs are completely subsidised by the government. A separate study also found that 1 in 10 Australians have caught public transport to avoid paying for ambulance costs! So you can see there are some discrepancies here.

Misconception #1: Ambulances are free

Ambulances are actually free to some people in Australia. For example, in Queensland and Tasmania, the costs are subsidised by the government. However, the costs still exist in other states. The most expensive of these is Victoria, where an emergency call-out can cost $1,776 for someone living in a rural area.

The cost of calling an ambulance in Australia

VIC$1,776 for an emergency (rural), $1,204 if you’re not rural
SA$976 for an emergency, then $5.60 per kilometer
WA$967 for an emergency
ACT$959 for an emergency, then $13.00 per kilometer travelled outside the ACT
NT$790 for an emergency, then $5.10 per kilometer
NSW$382 for an emergency, plus $3.44 per kilometre

Misconception #2: Ambulances are paid for by Medicare

This is a big misconception in Australia and it could be a reason why so many people experience ambulance bill shock after they’ve had an emergency call-out. Even though ambulance costs are subsidised in two states, they’re never covered by Medicare. Queensland and Tasmanian governments do cover the costs and they may be included within some subscription services, but you’ll never be able to claim a Medicare rebate for an ambulance trip. This is probably for a few reasons, but likely to discourage ambulances being used in circumstances where it’s not an absolute emergency.

The solution? Ambulance cover

If you’re genuinely concerned about having to call an ambulance and the bill shock you may experience, don’t stress. You can take out ambulance cover within most extras policies and even some hospital policies. HIF offers Ambulance Cover that can help cover the costs of emergency and non-emergency call-outs.

The main thing to take away from this is that it’s essential to understand the costs involved with services you may assume are free. Ambulances can cost thousands of dollars in some cases so it’s important to be aware that Medicare doesn’t cover the cost automatically. Hopefully this helps you avoid bill shock in the future! 

 Bessie Hassan is a Money and Insurance Expert at finder.com.au, Australia’s most visited comparison website.


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