Ambulance Fees in Australia – State to State

As promised, here is my post on ambulance charges from state to state in Australia. Between the two of us, me and Google know everything! As my knowledge on ambo fees is restricted to Queensland, I turned to Google for the rest.

First, I downloaded a 21 page document from the Victorian Ambulance Service detailing who is responsible for ambulance charges. And there isn’t a single mention of costs whatsoever. It only answers the question about who pays the charges depending upon the type of journey, for example a journey could be from the community to a public hospital, or from a public hospital to a private hospital, or from a nursing home to a private hospital etc.

Oh dear, it’s going to be a long day. But here is what I came up with.

Please Note:

This post was written 4 December 2009 so some of the information may be out of date. If I hear of any changes, I do add an update message to the relevant state, but I can’t guarantee this post is always right up to date with the correct information. If any of you reading this discover anything that’s now incorrect, please do add a comment below to let us know. Many thanks, Bob

Here in Queensland we pay for our ambulance services by way of a levy which is paid each quarter, rather bizarrely I think, as an additional charge on our electricity bills. It is called “Community Ambulance Cover” and ambocosts around $24 per quarter. So for less than $100 a year, we have full cover for ambulance services not just in Queensland, but nationwide.

In New South Wales it will cost you $301 for the ambulance to turn up and $2.72 for every kilometre travelled after that. But this is just for a standard taxi, sorry I mean ambo. More complicated pickups, I mean medical attention, could cost anything up to $5,000.

Tasmania quote an average of $690 per journey but say that depending on the complexities, it could be as high as $4,000. I believe they are looking at introducing an annual levy as opposed to an individual service charge per use, just like we have here in Queensland. Some places suggest that ambulance services are free to Tasmanian residents, so perhaps that levy has already been introduced.

Victoria ambo fees apparently start at just over $700 and can rise to a maximum of $12,000. Victoria, more expensive than every else again!

Western Australia quote fees of $288 or $475 depending on priority but of course you won’t get an air ambulance for that.

Australian Capital Territory quote around $214 for pickup and that includes the first 16 km of your journey and then seven dollars per kilometre thereafter for emergency ambulances. Routine ambo services are slightly cheaper. But for $54 a year you can have family cover with the ACT Ambulance Subscription Fund.

South Australia fees have (apparently) recently risen from an average of around $600 to more than $900, but even these fees may vary depending on priority at the time of dispatch.

Northern Territory charge to $285 callout plus $4 per kilometre for routine ambulance services, but this callout fee rises to $625 for emergencies. But for both, the first 10 km of travel is “free”. But $80 buys you a family annual subscription to the St John’s ambulance service in Northern Territory.

Of course, you can pay for insurance to cover any ambulance fees and, I believe, get a 30% rebate on the premium if you are eligible for Medicare benefits. I have seen quotations as low as $50 for family cover (after the rebate) for a whole year.

This seems pretty good value under the circumstances, especially for the surfers of Australia. If you’ve just had your leg chewed by a four meter shark and find yourself in the embarrassing position of turning down an air ambulance and saying “It’s okay mate, I’ll get the bus” then I’m pretty sure at some point during that bus journey you’ll be wondering why you never paid the premium.

I think that’s enough talk about ambo fees for now. It’s not been an easy subject to research and I can’t guarantee the accuracy of each of the figures above. But I’m sure you get the idea.

This is the idea I got.

If you come here to live in Australia, whichever state you decide to live in, get insurance to cover your ambulance costs. Then you can forget about $300 or $12,000 or whatever. Cover will cost you between $50 and $100 per year for you and your family. Pay it and forget it.

Or move to Queensland and pay it with your electric!

Update: Queensland

From the 1st July 2011 the Community Ambulance Cover Levy was abolished and all Queensland residents now enjoy free Ambulance cover throughout Australia without the need to pay a levy.

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{ 49 comments… add one }
  • Leanne carr April 26, 2016, 4:32 pm | Link

    My vic ambulance cover due for renewal and in about a month I’m moving to SA will not it transfer across??

    • BobinOz April 26, 2016, 9:00 pm | Link

      I would have thought so, but you’d be better off checking that with your insurance company.

  • Kate August 18, 2014, 10:31 am | Link

    Your electricity does not cover Ambulance in Queensland since 2011 I just rang and they told me this so I am trying to find out about state cover now as I was told they cover it but I have been transferred again as no one can give me details ….are we covered in other states and how am I in the system

    • BobinOz August 18, 2014, 9:33 pm | Link

      Yes, I know Kate, I added an update to the foot of the above post about that quite some time ago. If you click on the link in Bob’s comment above, I believe you’ll find up-to-date information there.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Bob July 7, 2014, 8:33 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    Check out http://www.privatehealth.gov.au/healthinsurance/whatiscovered/ambulance.htm which says who gets free ambo cover in each state. At the bottom, it has links to each state ambo authority.

    Cheers,

    Bob.

  • Cindy owen November 16, 2013, 2:45 am | Link

    Hi bob just a quick question my 2 sons have moved from vic to Qld recently for work , they r both in ambulance in Vic . As no 2 son is a diabetic type 1 just wondered if he would be covered in Qld as he hasn’t got work as yet but is in the process of it. Would much appreciate your advice . Thank you regards Cindy .

    • BobinOz November 18, 2013, 2:53 pm | Link

      Sorry Cindy, I can’t help with this one, I’m not sure what exactly you are asking if your son is covered for and even if I was, I think it would largely depend on the terms of his specific visa.

  • Danny October 23, 2013, 10:13 pm | Link

    Sorry to hear that Susannah. Depending on which state and whether it was an “emergency transport” (Priority – Lights and sirens) or a “patient transport” will affect the cost. They are very understanding and you can pay it off and they don’t usually get nasty and take people to court if you make contact with them and make an arrangement. Do you have travel insurance? Also check whether any of your credit cards have complimentary travel insurance that may cover medical and possibly ambulance fees. Good luck!

  • Susannah October 23, 2013, 2:30 pm | Link

    Hi my name is Susannah and just over a week ago I was taken to hospital via ambulance as I was not able to walk, I am a New Zealander and I would just like to know how much it is going to cost me for that transportation? I was told by one nurse that I would get an invoice in the mail and then another nurse told me that she had no idea what I was talking about. Could someone PLEASE help me clarify this? Thank you

    Susannah

  • Danny January 22, 2013, 11:33 pm | Link

    A lot of private health policies cover one or two ambulance trips a year

    • BobinOz January 25, 2013, 4:00 pm | Link

      I didn’t know either of those things, thanks for letting us know Danny. Maybe all of you living in a state where there are an ambulance fees should check your private health policies (if you have one) and your vehicle insurance policies to see if this will work for you as well.

      Cheers

      Bob

  • Danny January 22, 2013, 11:28 pm | Link

    In the NT if the ambulance trip is a result of a motor vehicle accident there is no charge as this is paid for by your compulsory third party insurance

  • Nhung January 10, 2013, 8:43 pm | Link

    In Victoria pensioners get free ambo. It’s like $38.59 a year for ambo cover for singles and family $76.70 a year. Covers Australia wide if you become a member. It’s pretty cheap otherwise use your credit card or direct debit only under $10 a quarter for singles and under $20 for family. People should check out the proper ambo website I understand each state has its own rules on ambo covers

    • BobinOz January 10, 2013, 9:55 pm | Link

      Good advice Nhung, people should check out the proper ambo site for the state they are living in, the rules are different everywhere but even if ambulances do cost money where you live, the insurance to cover yourself is pretty cheap. Nobody should get caught out, just pay the insurance.

      Glad to hear pensioners get ambulances for free in Victoria as I’m hoping to be a pensioner myself one day 🙂

      Thanks for the update!

  • Col August 28, 2012, 9:49 pm | Link

    I was in a car accident was taken to the hospital
    By ambulance $1900.00 the accident happened
    Half a kilometer from hospital. Thank goodness
    TAC covers as we are pensioners and now
    We really do need to join ambulance fund

    • BobinOz August 29, 2012, 6:28 pm | Link

      Gosh! Lucky you weren’t too far away from a hospital! Hope you weren’t hurt too badly, other than in the wallet. Although sounds like you got that money back.

      I’m trying to remember where you live Col, somewhere in Victoria, isn’t it? Who are TAC?

      • Col September 3, 2012, 5:27 pm | Link

        Yes we are in Victoria. TAC is an accident
        Insurance company. They have been really hel
        helpful. I am on the mend but as the dr said
        I had a bit of rust knocked off older sports
        Injuries

        • BobinOz September 3, 2012, 6:26 pm | Link

          Glad to hear you are on the mend Col, sounds like your footy days are over though 🙂

  • bob fish June 12, 2012, 5:27 pm | Link

    SA. and yea, im sure you guys in qld are paying for it somehow… but a few extra $ tacked on to your yearly tax bill doesn’t hurt much. $180 to a student hurts quite a bit. $6k for some poor sod in between jobs that’s just had a heart attack or something? kinda sucks. (thats just a made up example though).

    • BobinOz June 14, 2012, 12:36 pm | Link

      Sounds like you needed insurance in SA, bit late now though I suppose.

  • bob fish June 11, 2012, 2:13 pm | Link

    I recently called an ambo after being stung on the throat by a bee, and feeling it start to swell up. Callout fee was $180 (i didnt end up going to hospital), when I thought it was free! damn, thats hard to swallow when I’m trying to scrape through uni on $200 a week youth allowance. next time ill wait till its a real emergency! Personally I’d happily pay a bit more income tax or whatever if it meant services like this are free. I can afford it, but ‘can i afford it’ shouldn’t be a question you have to consider when its an emergency.

    • BobinOz June 12, 2012, 1:40 pm | Link

      So you got stung twice then? Sorry….

      What state was that bob fish? I agree with you, there should be a better way for us all to pay for these services, although as I’ve said in the article, there is in Queensland.

      Ambos here are fee free now, although I’m sure they collect it from us one way or another.

      • toni qld June 19, 2012, 1:36 pm | Link

        Hi Bob
        Is that correct that Qld residents are covered for free ambulance transport even if in another state ? We are going travelling to the NT & WA & I’m worrying about ambo fees – we are both Qld residents
        Toni

        • BobinOz June 20, 2012, 1:08 pm | Link

          Yes, I believe the Queensland ambulance cover is good Australia wide. Other than that, I’m not sure how it works, whether you have to pay first they get reimbursed or get an authorisation somehow. Maybe you should look into that before you travel. I hope you have a great time travelling!

  • Bubba May 16, 2012, 3:24 pm | Link

    Stinks should be free for pensioners in SA, i dont pay it and hope For The Best what the gonna do???

    • BobinOz May 17, 2012, 1:12 am | Link

      I’m with you on that one Bubba, what are they going to do? Who’s stinks though?

      • bubba June 4, 2013, 11:42 pm | Link

        Well not me its not summer LOL so no stinky! We should really write to the Ministers on this one, how dare they charge us pensioners ambo fees. Crikey cmon guys let it rip!

        • BobinOz June 5, 2013, 6:19 pm | Link

          You’re a bad boy Bubba (that’s a reference to a top-class Australian film for those who didn’t get it).

          Yes, come on, let’s all write to our Ministers and complain, I bet it gets us nowhere though 🙂

          Cheers mate!

  • dan August 28, 2011, 10:34 pm | Link

    in queensland it is now free

    yipee!!

    • BobinOz August 29, 2011, 9:40 pm | Link

      Yes it is, thanks for reminding me. I’ll make an amendment above.

      Cheers!

      • Jennifer December 21, 2012, 10:33 am | Link

        Is it really now free. My husband needed an urgent trip from his hotel to the hospital and we were happy in the understanding it was free. I received this morning a bill for $1100 to cover ambulance costs…. Free or not???!

        • BobinOz December 24, 2012, 2:38 pm | Link

          If you live in Queensland as a resident, then yes, it should be free. Are you a permanent resident here?

          • Jennifer December 24, 2012, 6:33 pm | Link

            Until last year, yes we were. Everything we were told veered toward the free trip. No wonder they were eager to get his wallet out…

            • BobinOz December 24, 2012, 10:54 pm | Link

              So you no longer live in Queensland? Maybe it’s worth checking out what cover you do have from where you live or maybe even check if you’re covered by any kind of private healthcare service you have. Worth a try, $1100 is an expensive lift.

              • Jennifer December 25, 2012, 6:35 am | Link

                Maybe you need to do your research again, checking with the actual ambulance agencies etc, this is all several years old now. Coz, after I got the bill. I did my own research (finding this page in the process) and you do have to pay.pity really, coz he works in Qld so ends enough time there. But you can’t have more than one drivers licence…

                • BobinOz January 2, 2013, 7:29 pm | Link

                  Not really sure what needs updating Jennifer, certainly the information about Queensland is right up to date and people who live in Queensland do still, as at today’s date, get free ambulance cover throughout Australia.

                  Some of the other stuff may be out of date, that’s the nature of blogs and this post was written some time ago. I have added a statement to this post to that effect.

  • BobinOz May 14, 2010, 3:57 pm | Link

    Yes, some of the fees I saw quoted are quite high, it’s enough to make you feel quite queasy! Hopefully you didn’t discover the cost by getting one.

    I think getting insurance out makes sense. Cheers Sappho!

  • Sappho May 13, 2010, 12:07 pm | Link

    I’m from Tasmania and have been transplanted to NSW. I can’t tell you the surprise I got find that ambulances had fees – and such high ones, too! I don’t know if there was ever a fee (there probably was back in the day) but I’m in my 40s and I don’t recall ever knowing about one.

    Sappho

  • BobinOz May 10, 2010, 5:42 pm | Link

    Hi Sappho

    Thanks for clearing that up. I did wonder if a free service had been put into place in Tassie, a few places I looked at did suggest that.

    Perhaps they’ll be free for everyone soon, now that Kevin Rudd is going to completely reform the health service.

  • Sappho May 10, 2010, 1:14 pm | Link

    Actually, there is no ambulance fee for residents in Tasmania.

    ‘The Tasmanian Ambulance Service provides a free service to Tasmanian residents. The only chargeable cases are those related to motor vehicle or workplace accidents where insurance arrangements cover costs. In addition the Department of Veterans Affairs meet the cost of ambulance transport for veterans.’

    Sappho
    http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/service_information/hospitals/tasmanian_ambulance_service

  • BobinOz April 19, 2010, 9:38 pm | Link

    Sure is Tobias.

  • Tobias April 18, 2010, 4:46 am | Link

    Queensland – The Place to be.

  • BobinOz December 11, 2009, 7:33 pm | Link

    Yeah, sure beats getting the bus to A & E.

    Thanks Aviram

  • Aviram December 11, 2009, 3:16 am | Link

    SUper post as usual…

    “Or move to Queensland and pay it with your electric!”

    Rofl

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