Riding in an ambulance is something most of us hope never to experience, but many Aussies may dread it even more if they were aware of just how much it could cost them.
While Queenslanders and Tasmanians aren’t required to pay for ambulance transport in their home state, everyone else in Australia, other than those in receipt of health care or pensioner concession cards, has to be covered by insurance for the emergency transport or risk a hefty fee.
According to a survey by comparethemarket.com.au of 1,500 Australians, 25 per cent erroneously believed ambulance rides were free for “all emergencies, across all states”. In total, 49 per cent thought the costs were less than a third of what they actually are – meaning almost half of the Aussies surveyed would get a huge surprise when presented with the bill for their journey.
A trip to hospital by ambulance can cost patients up to $1,000, comparethemarket said. The call out fee for New South Wales alone is $372, with an additional $3.35-per-kilometre charge from then on, capped at $6,095.
Victorian ambulance rides cost on average $1,204, but when the respondents were asked, 37 per cent believed trips were either free or under $300. It was similar for South Australians, with the fee for a ride coming in at $955, plus $5.50/km from then on. Western Australians and anyone living in the ACT face a fee of more than $900, but proving many were unaware of this, 49 per cent of West Australians and 41 per cent of those in the ACT believed a trip was free or under $500.
“An ambulance is the busiest and most expensive taxi we’ll ever take,” comparethemarket spokeswoman Abigail Koch said in a statement. “We hope that we’ll never need one. Should we require a trip to the hospital, including the additional fees for medical treatment and care, many of us could be left with skyrocketing bills after a health incident.”
If you hold a Health Care Concession Card, Pensioner Concession Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card are entitled to free ambulance services. If you don’t have one of these cards, Koch suggested opting for either a standalone insurance policy covering ambulance rides, or to ensure it was included within your private hospital cover, depending on your budget.