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Who needs ambulance cover?

Peter Aroney, BComm, ACA, Chief Executive Officer, Doctors’ Health Fund

Thursday, 16 November 2023

Who needs ambulance cover?

Living in Australia where Medicare is relied upon for providing a base level of healthcare, many would expect this to include ambulance services. The reality is that in most states, calling and using an ambulance will cost you, with fees being hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Even if someone calls the ambulance for you, it is the responsibility of the patient to cover any costs.

Ambulance services in Australia differ in each state or territory and, unless you live in Queensland or Tasmania, where costs are covered by the state government, not having appropriate cover could result in a hefty bill.

Emergency vs non-emergency ambulance

Even in an emergency, ambulance services are not free as there is no national scheme for the cost of emergency transport or ambulance services to hospital.

Some states and territories provide free or subsidised services for nonemergency patient transport to eligible patients, such as those who are receiving ongoing medical treatment or have a chronic medical condition.

Ambulance cover: subscriptions and private health insurance

Cover options are available through some state-based subscriptions or private health insurers, to protect you against the hefty out-of-pocket costs that can arise. In most cases, you won’t need both to be adequately protected. However, it’s good to check the finer details because what’s included can vary, with some offering cover for all ambulance services, while others only cover costs in emergencies.

With private health insurance, cover differs with each policy, such as benefits limitations, restrictions for use and whether it is part of a hospital policy, extras policy or offered as an ambulance-only policy. It’s important to refer to your own health fund to understand the ambulance cover available to you, and the specifics of your cover, if you already have it.

Air ambulance cover may not always be included under some policies or have restrictions that apply. Private health insurance can also only cover ambulance services provided by a state-run organisation, such as NSW Ambulance, but not any private provider, for example the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This might be of particular interest if you live, or are travelling, in rural and remote parts of Australia.

All Doctors’ Health Fund hospital products provide national cover for emergency and medically necessary ambulance services, by air, land or sea.

Concessions apply

There are several concession categories that can provide those eligible a discount or may mean cover is not needed. This again varies, depending on the state or territory of residence, the details of which are available through the resource provided below.

Whatever your situation, or those of your patients, it’s important to understand what cover you have or whether you need it. At Doctors’ Health Fund, we are always willing to help you make the right choice.

Learn more at

Useful resource

Ambulance cover arrangements by state and territory


IMPORTANT: Private health insurance products are issued by The Doctors’ Health Fund Pty Limited, ABN 68 001 417 527 (Doctors’ Health Fund), a member of the Avant Mutual Group. Cover is subject to the terms and conditions (including waiting periods, limitations and exclusions) of the individual policy, available at

This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practise proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgement or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published.

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