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.
For example, Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card
Holders are covered for state ambulance services in every
state by the Department.
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, health insurance/ambulance
cover may be required if you want to
cover all possible eventualities.
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.
Individuals with ambulance cover do
not need to pay the costs of emergency ambulance
services if they need to be transported to a hospital or
if they need to be treated at the scene during an
emergency and later transported to a hospital.
These emergency transportation
situations cover incidents such as heart attacks or
strokes, but not transfers between hospitals or
transportation for routine medical treatment as an
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
Where overseas visitors current travel
insurance does not have adequate medical cover there are
some approved health funds in Australia, such as MBF
provide Overseas Visitors’ Cover which includes emergency
Am I covered for ambulance service when I travel interstate
State/Territory Residents and Ambulance Cover
Ambulance schemes can vary depending
on the state or territory of residence.
NSW and ACT - In NSW and the
ACT, individuals are fully covered for ambulance
services if they contribute to a Hospital cover. Those
who have only extras cover ie, without hospital cover,
may have limited cover for emergency transportation.
In the ACT, Health Care Concession Card (HCC) and
Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) holders are entitled to
free emergency ambulance services and in NSW, HCC, PCC
and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders are
entitled to free ambulance transport services.
TAS - Tasmanian residents do
not need to pay for ambulance cover, as Ambulance
Tasmania offers a free service to the state’s residents.
Exceptions may apply in motor vehicle or workplace
accidents where the insurance policies of those involved
cover the costs.
QLD - Prior to 1 July 2011,
Queenslanders paid the Community Ambulance Cover Levy,
which was added to electricity bills. From 1 July 2011,
every Queensland resident has access to free ambulance
cover, and this applies even if they are temporarily
outside their home state.
VIC, SA, NT & WA - Residents
of these regions can obtain emergency ambulance coverage
under Hospital and/or Extras cover. In VIC,
Pensioner Concession Card and Healthcare Card holders
are entitled to free ambulance transport services. In WA,
aged pensioners are entitled to free ambulance services
for all emergency ambulance services and non-urgent
ambulance services that are deemed to be medically
necessary. All other senior citizens over the age
of 65 pay only 50% of the normal cost of both emergency
and urgent ambulance transport.
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 (aero
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.
Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS)
The RFDS is a not-for-profit service that provides
aero medical 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.