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UPDATE: Check out our 2018 emergency ambulance article for the latest figures and facts.
Did you know the cost of an emergency ambulance ride is not covered by Medicare?
It's confronting to think about but, if you needed to call an ambulance in an emergency, do you know what costs you would be up for? Most of us probably haven't given it much thought.
Firstly, ambulance services work differently depending on where you live. Queensland and Tasmanian residents don't need to worry as ambulance services are provided by state government schemes. In the other states some pension and healthcare card holders are exempt from paying for ambulance services. But for the rest of us, you'll be responsible for covering your ambulance transportation fees.
Let's look at NSW as an example. If you're unfortunate enough to be in an emergency situation the basic call-out fee for an ambulance is $349^. On top of this call-out fee you’re then charged a per kilometre rate of $3.15^ per km.
These ambulance fees apply whether you're being transported by road, helicopter, fixed wing aircraft, or a combination of these methods of transport. The per kilometre cost is not simply calculated on the number of kilometres from the patient location to the nearest hospital. It also includes the kilometres travelled from the ambulance station to the point of patient pick up; to the hospital or any other point where the patient is transferred; and then back to the ambulance station where the journey began. Fortunately there's a maximum charge of $5,715^. But if you don’t have cover for emergency ambulance that's a huge out-of-pocket expense!
Taking all this into account, in 2014 nib health fund's customers (excluding TAS and QLD residents) experienced an average ambulance transportation fee of $807*. Without health insurance they would have been expected to pay the full amount themselves, but because they had health insurance nib paid their account for them.
If the worst was to happen and you needed to call an ambulance in an emergency, the last thing you want to be worried about is the cost. To check if you're covered, view your policy in Online Services or contact us to confirm. You can also get a quote if you need to arrange health insurance that includes cover for emergency ambulance.
^From Ambulance Service of NSW website. Accessed March 2015.
*Average ambulance charge incurred by nib customers in 2014 (excluding TAS and QLD residents). Correct as at January 2015.