first point of interest is that Medicare does not cover the
provision of ambulance services and whether you may have to
pay for ambulance service depends in which state you reside.
Also, depending on the ambulance policy of your state or
territory, residents may need to take out cover with their
health fund or ambulance provider for services within their
If you hold a Pensioner’s Concession Card
you are exempt from payment of the ambulance levy or if
there is a discount available.
Another point to be mindful of is the definition of or the
distinction between ‘emergency’ and ‘non-emergency’
ambulance transport. When travelling interstate
‘non-emergency transport’ refers to pre-booked services such
as transfer of the patient from one hospital to another.
Some private health funds may levy a co-payment for things
such as ‘non-emergency’ transport.
It may be that the ambulance cover will cover you for
transport to the nearest hospital where the required
treatment is available, but not back to your state of
residence unless a doctor certifies this is necessary. In
such cases, travel insurance may be required if you want to
cover all possible eventualities.
Am I covered for ambulance service when I travel interstate
It can all be confusing, as your private health fund may
cover you for ‘emergency’ transport within your state but
not in another state. Also, ‘non-emergency’ transport may
not be covered when you travel interstate.
Prior to travelling interstate it is best to
check that the state or territory you are to travel to has
reciprocal arrangements for ambulance cover with your home
state or territory. It may be necessary to take
out ambulance cover through a private health fund.
Make sure you get written confirmation of the cover
and check whether there is any maximum limit
to the ambulance cover provided by the health fund.
International visitors should take out travel insurance.
Where overseas visitors current travel
insurance does not have adequate medical cover there are
some approved health funds in Australia, such as MBF who
provide Overseas Visitors’ Cover which includes emergency
ambulance cover, if the visit to Australia is less than 12
The following is a ‘snapshot’ of
information obtained from ambulance service websites
as at 24/09/09.
As terms and conditions may change in the states or
territories, you should make your own enquiry with your
ambulance provider or private health fund to satisfy
yourself that you and your family are covered whilst
Check also whether you are covered for air (aeromedical)
ambulance in the case of an ‘emergency’ and even for
‘non-emergency’ as there may be a difference between being
covered for ambulance transport by road or by air.
Community Ambulance Cover in Queensland only
applies to people whose principal place of residence is in
Queensland and does not cover pension card holders or
visitors for ambulance treatment/transport whilst visiting
The Queensland Ambulance Service website
states: - ‘On
1 July 2011 the levy, paid through
electricity accounts, which supported the Community
Ambulance Cover (CAC) was abolished.
The Community Ambulance
Cover - legislation is still in place and will continue
to provide all Queensland residents with free authorised
ambulance services throughout Australia.’
My principal place of
residence is not in Queensland. If I use an ambulance in
Queensland, do I have to pay for this?
However, the following
exceptions may apply:
If you hold a Department of Veteran
Affairs gold card.
If you are an ambulance subscriber in
Victoria, ACT, NT, and SA.
If you are a pensioner in Victoria, ACT
If you are transferred from one
Queensland Health hospital to another Queensland Health
If you live near a border with
Queensland, and a cross-border arrangement applies.
If QAS services were provided in respect
of a work place accident or injury.
If you are part of the Alpurrurulam
community in NT.
If you are a resident of Queensland and are
travelling around Australia it states -
If it is the person’s intention to return to
Queensland within two years, and they have not established a
permanent residence elsewhere, then they will still be
considered a resident of Queensland. If a person is away
from Queensland for more than two years and is living in a
permanent residential arrangement (including in a travelling
caravan), they will not be considered as residents of
Queensland. This is the case regardless of whether they are
enrolled in a Queensland electorate or whether it is their
intention to eventually return.
If a person no longer has a principal place
of residence in Queensland or takes up residence in another
State or Territory then they cease to be a Queensland
resident and will not be covered.
Additionally if you have health insurance, you may be
covered for QAS costs. Your health insurance provider
should be able to provide advice in this regard.
Please note: if you are not a Queensland
resident you will be issued a Tax Invoice for services
rendered by the Queensland Ambulance Service. This Tax
Invoice is the responsibility of the individual and it is up
to you for follow payment up with your nominated Health Fund
or your State/Territory Ambulance Service.
If you are a ‘resident’ of Queensland and receive an
ambulance transport bill from another state you will need to
contact the following to arrange payment. A driver’s
licence or some other identification showing your
residential address may be required to confirm that you are
a ‘resident’ of Queensland:-
Community Service Unit Queensland Ambulance Service
Attention: Interstate Accounts
GPO Box 1425
Brisbane Qld 4001
Ph. 1300 369 003
New South Wales
In NSW private health care fund members pay an ‘ambulance
levy’ as part of their basic hospital cover. The Ambulance
Service of New South Wales website states
‘Are any ambulance services provided at
Some ambulance services are provided free
of charge to people who fall into the following
categories listed below, provided, at the time of
receiving ambulance services, they were in receipt of a
Concession card holders
Health Care Concession Card holder
Pensioner Concession Card holder
Department of Veterans Affairs Card holder
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holder
Cover for concession card holders is
Ambulance services in New South Wales
Emergency ambulance services for all
other States/Territories Cover for concession card
holders is NOT PROVIDED for;
Repatriation back to home state for
Non-emergency ambulance services.
What do I do if I receive an account and
I am a concession card holder?
In the event that you are provided with
ambulance services you may still receive an account
requesting payment. This occurs if the concession or
other card details were not recorded at the time the
service was provided.
If you are a Health Care Concession Card
holder, Pensioner Concession Card holder, Department of
Veterans Affairs Card holder or a Commonwealth Seniors
Health Card holder you will be required to provide your
concession card number to the Ambulance Service of NSW.
This can be done by either telephoning 1300 655 200
(toll free) or by returning the “tear off” section on
the back of the account to the Revenue Accountant,
Ambulance Service of NSW, Locked Bag 14, Rozelle, NSW,
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
In the ACT, if you have private health cover which includes
hospital cover with a registered health fund then you are
automatically covered for ambulance service within the ACT
by the ambulance levy on your insurance.
ACT Emergency Serivces Agency
in part –
‘ACT Pensioner Concession and Health Care Cardholders (valid
at the time of service delivery) are entitled to free
emergency and non-emergency ambulance services within the
When interstate, ACT Pensioner Concession and Health Care
Cardholders are entitled to free emergency ambulance
services from an approved ambulance provider only if that
state participates in reciprocal arrangements with the ACT.
It is strongly recommended that you check your
entitlements prior to travelling interstate
by contacting the ACT Ambulance Service on
(02) 6207 9980.
ACT Residents are covered for emergency ambulance services
within the ACT through the road rescue fee levied on vehicle
Check with your private health fund that you are covered
Australia wide before departing on your journey.
Ambulance Victoriawebsite states :-
All holders of Victorian Health Care cards
and pensioner concession cards are entitled to free
ambulance and air ambulance travel anywhere in Australia.
This covers all emergency transport treatment and
non-emergency transport on the recommendation of a doctor
and approval by Ambulance Victoria. Dependants listed on
these cards are also covered.
Does my Ambulance Victoria membership cover
me for travel overseas and interstate?
Your membership does not cover you for travel
overseas and it is recommended you take out travel
If you are residing in Victoria and are
simply travelling interstate on holidays, your membership
will cover you in the event that you have treatment or are
required to travel back home for a medical reason. This
transport must be approved by Ambulance Victoria and
authorised by a doctor or hospital.
If you require transport interstate you will
receive an invoice from that interstate service for payment.
You just need to list your AV membership number on the form
and return it to the Accounts Department at PO Box 2000
Doncaster Vic 3108.
There are some exclusions so please refer to
their website and make your own enquires.
Ambulance cover is provided under the state scheme to
residents of Tasmania.
The Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS) website states:-
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.’
If you are a resident of Tasmania and intend
to travel on the mainland please make further enquires.
Ambulance cover is available to SA residents. The website
indicates that some private health funds only cover you for
‘emergency’ attendance or transportation. If you have
private health cover you may care to check that it also
covers you for ‘non-emergency’ ambulance transport. This
would cover you for transport for say other tests or ongoing
Ambulance cover is available via subscription through the
South Australia Ambulance Service and Ambulance Cover Extras
(ACE) is also available. Their website states
‘If you are covered with SA Ambulance
Service, you won’t have to pay a cent if:
the service is provided by SAAS, or
the ambulance transport originates in
another State or Territory and is provided by a
recognised Interstate ambulance service, or
or a transport service originating in
South Australia, if:
SAAS directs or requests another person
to provide non-emergency ambulance services, or
after a request by the subscriber, SAAS,
at its sole discretion, agrees in writing prior to the
transport date that another person may provide the
service, and that person is recognised under Part 6 of
the Health Care Act 2008 (SA).’
‘Pensioner Cover is Ambulance Cover which
is provided to pensioners at a discount. A pensioner
concession card must be provided at the time of applying
for membership to obtain Pensioner cover’.
If you are a Western Australia resident you
can choose either to take out ambulance stand-alone cover
with St John’s Ambulance or an approved private health
insurance fund which would cover you for ambulance transport
Australia wide. If you need an ambulance and you have no
ambulance cover you will be responsible for payment of the
St John Ambulance of Western Australia
website states in part:-
‘Metropolitan Ambulance Cover
In the metropolitan area St John
Ambulance has not operated the Ambulance Cover since
HBF owns and
operates the HBF St John Ambulance Cover.
Please check with your health insurer to
see what level of ambulance cover you hold.
Country Ambulance Cover
In country WA, St John Country Ambulance
Cover is administered by the local St John Sub Centres.
If you have comprehensive Country
Ambulance Cover, the cost of an ambulance trip is
covered for as many emergency or necessary non-emergency
transports you or your family members require.
St John Country Ambulance Cover will
protect you for St John Ambulance transport 24 hours a
day, 365 days a year in Western Australia. If you are
travelling in the eastern states, your cover will also
extend to intrastate road transport with other principal
providers of emergency road transport.
To find out more or to obtain Country
Ambulance Cover, contact your local St John Ambulance
Pensioner Ambulance Services – Government Funding
Aged pensioners are entitled to free ambulance services.
Ambulance services covered include:
• All emergency ambulance services; and
• Non-urgent ambulance services that are deemed to be
Inter-hospital transfers between two public hospitals
will be arranged and paid for by the sending hospital.
It is important to note that inter-hospital transfers
where one or both hospitals is a private hospital are
not covered by this policy.
Privately insured aged pensioners and seniors should
check with their insurer as to whether inter-hospital
transfers are covered by health insurance.’
The St John’s Ambulance
Northern Territory website states in part:-
Annual Ambulance cover as provide by St John Northern
Territory is available to Northern Territory residents
only. For all other states and territories, please
contact your local ambulance service for further
‘Private Health, PCC, HCC
If patients are a member of a Private Health Fund, we
require that the Ambulance transport account be sent to
the fund for payment. If patients are holders of a
Commonwealth Health Care Card or Pension Concession Card
issued by Centrelink, there is no charge for the
Ambulance Transport provided the patient can supply us
with a valid card number.’
Cover is available for interstate and overseas visitors
and, by subscription, for a maximum of 30 days.
Where can I get ambulance cover?
You can obtain ambulance cover direct from some state
ambulance services, where available, or from private health
Four such funds are:-
Australian Health Management (ahm) website states they offer
hospital as well as Australia wide ambulance cover only for
residents of NSW and the ACT. If you reside in SA, Vic, WA
or the NT they can offer you ambulance cover as part of your
hospital cover at no extra cost.
NIB Health Fund (NIB) website states:-
‘Benefits are only payable for
ambulance services within Australia that are:
provided by a State or Territory
Ambulance Service; and
defined by the relevant service provider as emergency
where an ambulance is called to attend an emergency but
on arriving is no
longer required; or
defined by a treating doctor as medically
Ambulance cover is not included in health cover for
Queensland or Tasmanian residents as ambulance services
are provided by State Government schemes.’
HCF – if you don’t want hospital and
extras cover, they can provide ambulance only cover
you've taken a ride in an ambulance, send the unpaid
account to us. We'll look after the payment directly
with the Ambulance Service on your behalf. Queensland
and Tasmanian residents are covered under their state
Their website states in part:-
Only Ambulance, you’re covered for unlimited emergency
ambulance trips including air services and on-the-spot
treatment Australia wide when provided by recognised
If you take out Emergency Only Ambulance
cover on its own, you will need to pay the full 12-month
Bupa will only pay
benefits towards emergency ambulance services when they
are provided by any of the following recognised
ACT Ambulance Service
Ambulance Service of
St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance
Certain types of concession cards issued
by Centrelink or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA)
entitle the cardholder to free ambulance services. These
arrangements also vary per state so should be checked
directly with Centrelink or DVA’.
Information above extracted
15/1/12. Please contact the
funds direct to confirm details and their membership fees.
Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS)
The RFDS is a not-for-profit service that provides
aeromedical and health care services to people who travel,
live and work in remote and regional Australia.
Their website provides excellent information on trip
preparation, snake bites and what to do in an emergency.
They recommend that travellers and 4WD tourists to remote
areas investigate obtaining and using a HF Radio.See article on
Contact numbers and radio frequencies are available
on their website. Donations are welcomed.
sure your take an adequate First Aid kit
Complete a first aid and/or CPR course
Obtain and maintain a fire extinguisher
a list of emergency numbers
sure you have a device such as an PLB, HF radio, mobile
telephone or satellite telephone to be able to make
contact in an emergency.
Do a Google Search for the ambulance service in your state or
territory or your private health insurer.