Does ambulance cover protect you when you’re travelling interstate? Read on to find out.
Many Australians are unaware that the costs of emergency ambulance transport are not covered by Medicare. Although the Queensland and Tasmanian state governments cover the cost of ambulance transportation for their residents, everyone else must find their own way to pay for ambulance fees.
This is where ambulance cover from private health insurers comes in. It can cover the ambulance costs you incur in your own state or territory and also Australia-wide, but there are a few key issues to be aware of before choosing an ambulance cover policy.
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What is ambulance cover?
Ambulance cover policies are designed to provide cover for the cost of ambulance treatment and transportation. Ambulance insurance is available as a standalone option but is also often bundled as part of your health fund’s hospital or extras policies.
The level of cover provided can also differ from one policy to the next. Some policies will cover emergency ambulance transport only while others are more comprehensive and will also cover non-emergency transport and treatment. You’ll need to check the fine print to be sure of what is and isn’t covered by your insurer.
Your eligibility for ambulance cover may also differ depending on where you live.
Does ambulance cover protect you interstate?
Yes it can. The good news is that ambulance cover from your health fund can sometimes provide you with Australia-wide cover for ambulance services. This means you don’t have to worry about being slugged with a bill for ambulance services incurred when travelling interstate.
However, fees for ambulance services differ between Australian states and territories. The Queensland government covers emergency ambulance services for its residents Australia-wide while Tasmanian residents are covered for ambulance services in Tasmania only.
With this in mind, the majority of Australians (other than Queensland residents) will need to take out ambulance cover from a private health fund or their state ambulance service to guarantee that they are covered while interstate.
What about concession card holders?
Holders of certain concession cards are entitled to access free ambulance services. For example, if you hold a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card, you are covered for the cost of state ambulance services right around Australia.
You may also be able to access free ambulance services if you hold other types of concession cards but the cover available varies depending on the state or territory in which you live and where you travel interstate.
For example, NSW Health Care Concession Card, Pensioner Concession Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders are entitled to free ambulance services in NSW. However, because of the different arrangements in place around Australia, the details of cover get complicated when you travel interstate. If you travel to Queensland you will be covered for emergency ambulance services only but if you travel to South Australia you will not be covered for any ambulance services. Apart from that, NSW pensioners are covered for ambulance services in all other states and territories.
For a full guide to the complimentary ambulance services available to concession and health care card holders in each state and territory, take a look at our comprehensive guide.
State ambulance service subscriptions
An alternative to taking out ambulance cover from your private health insurer is to purchase a subscription from your state ambulance service. Offered by ambulance services in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia, these subscriptions allow you to purchase cover for emergency and non-emergency ambulance services Australia-wide. This means you will be covered not only in your own state or territory but also when travelling anywhere in Australia.
However, it’s once again essential that you read the fine print and make sure you’re aware of what ambulance costs your subscription does and does not cover.