Ambulance Fees in Australia – State to State

Updated March 2018

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. I have left the original information intact, but crossed it out when I updated this page March 2018. If you really need to know precise details of the latest fees, it is best to check it out directly with the health authority of the specific state or territory.

Here in Queensland we used to pay for our ambulance services by way of a levy which was paid each quarter, rather bizarrely I think, as an additional charge on our electricity bills. It was called “Community Ambulance Cover” and ambocost around $24 per quarter. That changed in 2011 and now “Permanent Queensland residents are automatically covered for emergency pre-hospital ambulance treatment and transport Australia-wide.” Nice!

In New South Wales it will cost you $301 $372 for the ambulance to turn up and $2.72 $3.35 for every kilometre travelled after that. For non-New South Wales residents, the fees are more, $714 for the callout and $6.44 per kilometre travelled. Non-emergency ambulances are a little cheaper, but it is not an emergency, you’d be better off getting a cab.

Tasmania quote an average of $690 per journey but say that depending on the complexities, it could be as high as $4,000.

The good news for resident Tasmanians is that now, by and large, ambulances are free. As their state government says “When third party payment is not available, currently the Tasmanian Government chooses to waive the accounts for Tasmanian residents who require treatment and/or transport by ambulance within Tasmania and its islands.

For non-Tasmanian residents it is likely that you will receive an invoice, but it is complicated. For example, us Queenslanders will not pay for an ambulance in Tasmania, because we are covered for free Australia wide. For the latest information, it’s best to Google ‘Cost of an ambulance in Tasmania‘.

Victoria ambo fees apparently start at just over $700 $1204 for metropolitan areas and $1776 for regional and rural emergencies. If you require the services of a fixed wing aircraft, the fixed charge is $2887 and if you need a helicopter, it can cost you up to $25,559. Ouch!

Western Australia quote fees of $288 $510 or $475 $949 depending on priority, but of course you won’t get an air ambulance for that. If you are an Aged Pensioner, you may be covered for ambulance transport.

Australian Capital Territory quote around $214 $936 for pickup and that includes the first 16 km of your journey and then $7 $12 for every km travelled outside the ACT. Family cover with the ACT Ambulance Subscription Fund is recommended.

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. Seems an emergency call out for an ambulance is now $955 plus a $5.50 per kilometre charge. If you require the provision of a retrieval team, whatever that is, you can add $3215 to your bill.

Northern Territory charge $285 callout plus $4 per kilometre. The St John Ambulance Service in NT is now quoting around $745 – $1000 plus a per kilometre fee, but they highly recommend that you purchase Ambulance Cover. You can get full cover for the whole family for $125 a year and you can even buy 21 day holiday cover if you are just visiting.

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 $100 and $100 $200 per year for you and your family. Pay it and forget it.

Or move to Queensland and get it with your electric for free!

 

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{ 53 comments… add one }
  • Outbackambo August 17, 2018, 11:54 pm |

    A retrieval team in South Australia is a specialist medical team based in adelaide called saas Medstar.
    Examples of times you’d see a retrieval team would be a helicopter rescue/transport team like off a boat of major car crash.
    Other times might be for transfering crtiically sick patients between hospitals by aircraft like a patient under CPR from outback SA to a major hospital by RFDS.

    • BobinOz August 20, 2018, 4:35 pm |

      Sounds expensive, so who pays the bill? Any idea?

  • Bob Downe July 19, 2018, 4:30 pm |

    In 2006 I had a stroke. I drove myself to hospital. Not because I didn’t want to pay a huge fee, at the time I thought ambulances were free, I mean, we’re one of the most ridiculously taxed nations on Earth, and pretty much socialist, and as a small business owner I get to pay double the tax (once when my company earns that $1, then again when I wage myself) – but mostly because I was in an altered state and had no idea what I was doing. Now I know the cost of ambulances I’ll be driving myself to the emergency ward even if I’m dead. Stuff that.

    • BobinOz July 19, 2018, 8:25 pm |

      If you drive your car when you’re dead, I don’t think you’ll be covered by insurance. Just saying 🙂

  • Leanne carr April 26, 2016, 4:32 pm |

    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 |

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

  • Kate August 18, 2014, 10:31 am |

    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 |

      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 |

    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.

    • BobinOz July 13, 2014, 8:32 pm |

      Nice one, thanks Bob.

      Bob

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

    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 |

      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 |

    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 |

    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 |

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

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

      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 |

    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 |

    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 |

      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 |

    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 |

      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 |

        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 |

          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 |

    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 |

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

  • bob fish June 11, 2012, 2:13 pm |

    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 |

      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 |

        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 |

          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 |

    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 |

      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 |

        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 |

          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 |

    in queensland it is now free

    yipee!!

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

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

      Cheers!

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

        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 |

          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 |

            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 |

              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 |

                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 |

                  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 |

    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 |

    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 |

    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 |

    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 |

    Sure is Tobias.

  • Tobias April 18, 2010, 4:46 am |

    Queensland – The Place to be.

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

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

    Thanks Aviram

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

    SUper post as usual…

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

    Rofl

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