Media Release

5.7m Australians think ambulances are free under Medicare

  • Nearly one in three Australians wrongly believe ambulances are free under Medicare
  • An emergency callout can cost over $1,776 in some states
  • Consumers encouraged to look into ambulance cover within their health insurance

23 July 2018, Sydney, Australia – Nearly one in three Australians wrongly believe ambulances are free under Medicare, according to new research from, the site that compares virtually everything.

The survey of 2,085 Australians, found that 30% – the equivalent of 5.7 million people – think that ambulance costs are subsidised by Medicare.

While ambulance costs are subsidised by the government in Tasmania and Queensland, Medicare does not cover the costs of an ambulance or other emergency transportation unless you have a concession card or health card.

In fact, an emergency callout can cost as much as $1,776 in Victoria, and then a further $5.60 per kilometre.

Of the states who pay for ambulance services, NSW residents are the most confused about costs involved, with over one in four (26%) believing it’s free.

It’s the younger generations who are the most confused about ambulance costs, with 47% of Generation Z believing it’s free under Medicare, and one third (33%) of Generation Y. This is compared to only 25% of Generation X.

Bessie Hassan, Insurance Expert at, says being unclear about costs could lead to an unexpected bill if an ambulance is called.

“Although some state governments do subsidise emergency callout costs, most don’t, and it can lead to some nasty bill shock in some cases.”

“The most important thing is that Australians are getting the medical help they need.”

“Where bills can’t be paid, each state’s revenue office should have measures put in place to provide financial assistance or allow bills to be paid in instalments.”

Separate research has found that one in ten Australians (8%) have caught public transport because they didn’t want to pay for an ambulance.

A further 21% have called an ambulance for a non-life threatening issue – potentially incurring an expensive bill.

“Most insurance providers will offer a form of Ambulance cover but much like differences between the states, this can vary significantly between insurers,” said Ms Hassan.

“If you aren’t sure whether you are covered by your private health policy, it is usually listed under extras or sometimes as a standalone policy. It might also specify whether it is for emergency only or all ambulance use.”

The cost of calling an ambulance in Australia:

VIC$1,776 for an emergency (rural), $1,204 if you’re not rural
SA$976 for an emergency, then $5.60 per kilometre
WA$967 for an emergency
NT$790 for an emergency, then $5.10 per kilometre
NSW & ACT$372 for an emergency, plus $3.35 per kilometre


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