There’s no way to predict when you may need emergency ambulance transportation, so Australians need to be aware of whether they’re covered or not and what to expect in terms of fees. Medicare, Australia’s universal health coverage, provides many great health benefits to citizens and certain overseas visitors. Those over 15 can enroll to become full members and receive a Medicare card. Free services provided include emergency treatment at public hospitals and doctor visits to general practitioners who accept Medicare benefits. The full range of significant benefits also includes lower costs for certain specialist visits and reduced costs for eligible prescription medications.
What Won’t Medicare Cover?
Generally speaking, Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B only cover necessary medical services and exams and some preventive services. Medicare won’t cover eye exams, glasses/contacts, dental work, hearing aids, or long-term care. Additionally, Medicare does not cover ambulance services in any state.
The states of Queensland and Tasmania cover ambulance services for their residents and some states allow residents to purchase a membership with their state’s ambulance company to cover emergency transport. NSW is not one of these states. There is some good news regarding NSW ambulance transport, however. The state’s government does subsidize costs for residents, so they’re just billed 51% of the emergency ambulance service cost. Ambulance fees are quite expensive, however, so even roughly half the cost may be too much for many residents, especially if they reach the maximum charge of $6,258. Emergency situations can occur at any moment, and especially in financially difficult times, NSW residents should look into taking out ambulance cover on their own.
Private Health Insurance
The easiest way to obtain ambulance cover in NSW is with a private health insurance plan. It’s important that residents do this, especially since under the Health Services Act of 1997, you’ll be charged for paramedic treatment and transport even if you aren’t the one who called the ambulance. Even if you refuse treatment, you’ll still be billed for the call out, which can be hundreds of dollars.
It’s possible to take out ambulance cover alone through a private insurance company, but this likely won’t be worthwhile for most residents since they’ll miss out on all the other benefits of having a health plan. Ambulance cover is provided through private health funds anyway, though your level of coverage may vary depending on your plan. For example, some plans only cover ground ambulance transportation and won’t cover air travel.
Private health plans offer other benefits too, such as the right to be transported to and treated at a private hospital. You can also get a private hospital room and choice of doctor for treatment. You may even be able to get reduced wait times for elective surgeries. Finally, private health plans can give you coverage for dental, vision, and other services not covered by Medicare.
Ambulance services may be provided at no cost to pensioners possessing the following cards.
- Health Care Card
- Pensioner Concession Card
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
- Gold Card (this one only covers emergency ambulance transportation)
- White Card (only provides ambulance services for conditions covered by Veterans’ Affairs)
Those covered by a school or group contribution can receive emergency transport at no cost as well. In cases of workers’ compensation, vehicle accident, and third party insurance claims, insurance providers will be charged for NSW ambulance. An exception to this is contract workers with worker’s compensation claims. In NSW, they’ll be responsible for the full rate of emergency ambulance service.
The kind of private plan you should get for ambulance cover will depend on you and your family’s needs and what you can afford. Compare ambulance cover NSW with iSelect to find the right plan for you.