If you’re lucky enough to be living in Australia, a country with a relatively inclusive medical system, then it’s likely you might believe that along with bulk-billed medical appointments, ambulances are free nationwide under Medicare.
You would, however, be wrong.
New research from Finder has found that around 30% of Australian’s wrongly believe that ambulances are free, and covered under Medicare.
According to NIB, the average claim in the 2016/2017 financial year for an emergency ambulance trip was $874, which is not at all an insignificant fee. But you’d be forgiven for being confused about all this, given there are different policies in different Australian states.
According to NIB, in NSW, those with a Commonwealth Pensioner Concession Card or who have a health care card don’t have to pay for an ambulance trip. However for those without, you will be charged a call-out fee and a fee per kilometre of the round trip. At $3.35 a kilometre, it’s marginally more expensive than an Uber.
Queenslanders are arguably the luckiest state in the country, as ambulance fees are covered for every permanent resident, regardless of where in the country they are.
In Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, ACT and the Northern Territory there is a hefty call-out fee and occasionally a cost per kilometre too.
Tasmanian’s are lucky enough to have the government cover their costs, so long as they are in Tasmania at the time of the accident.
This isn’t to say you should second-guess yourself before calling an ambulance in an emergency, you definitely should, but it’s important to remain aware about the different costs that can surround the call.
Earlier this week, a woman in Melbourne found herself debt-troubled after calling an ambulance for an injured homeless man.
After riding her bike to work, she saw the man injured and immediately called triple zero. The woman told ABC radio that months later she was contacted by a debt-collection company.
“I was pretty worried about his state of health and wellbeing,” she said.
“I guess the first thing I noticed though was that this person looked like he’d been homeless for a pretty significant period of time and he was very polite but he looked very unwell,” she continued.
Ambulance Victoria has said that the calls were a mistake and that they are looking into what happened.