How to get Ambulance Cover in New South Wales

Is it worth getting ambulance cover in New South Wales? Find out what is covered by the state government and what you have to pay for.

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by Gary Andrews

Last update 15 Sep 2021


The cost of an ambulance trip across Australia differs depending on which state you live in.

New South Wales residents who need an ambulance could be hit with a hefty bill if they don't have the right cover in place.

This guide looks at what's covered and not covered by the state government, how exemptions work, and what NSW residents are covered for if they need an ambulance outside of their home state.

Live outside of NSW?

We've also got a guide on how ambulance cover differs from state-to-state.

If you need ambulance services and live in New South Wales, you will have to pay a fee if you don't qualify for an exemption.

However, without the correct amount of coverage, expect an enormous bill for a hospital visit.

Key Points

NSW residents have to pay for ambulance journeys both at home and interstate.
Most health insurers offer ambulance cover as part of their hospital cover.
The starting cost for an ambulance call-out is $401 if you don't have the right cover.

What is ambulance cover?

Ambulance cover is a type of health insurance that covers your costs if you need to call out paramedics and/or get taken to hospital.

You can buy ambulance cover as a standalone policy, although most hospital covers will include ambulance call outs as standard.

For people who live in NSW and don't have the right cover, a trip in an ambulance could end up costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Is ambulance cover available in New South Wales?


New South Wales residents can buy ambulance cover on its own as part of a hospital or extras policy with most insurers.

Do you need ambulance cover in NSW?

It's certainly a good idea, unless you want to get hit with a large bill for calling out an ambulance.

Medicare doesn't cover call outs in NSW, and the state government only pays a portion of the costs.

That means even a short journey could end up costing you hundreds of dollars.

Some residents are exempt from ambulance charges.

We'll go into more detail on these a bit later in this guide.

What should I look for in ambulance cover in NSW?

There's a few things to check if you're buying ambulance cover.

Firstly, look over the policy to make sure you're covered for call-out fees, air ambulance and other transport, and the full amount of your costs.

You should also check if your policy covers you for interstate travel outside of NSW, and if your cover is applicable to non-emergency situations.

It's also worth considering if you may get better value for money by taking out hospital cover rather than ambulance cover.

Many cheap Basic hospital policies include ambulance cover and will mean you can avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge and the Lifetime Health Cover loading (if you're over 31 and don't hold any form of hospital cover, you'll probably have to pay some loading.

See our guide for more info.


How much will it cost me if I live in NSW and don't have ambulance cover?

The good news is that the state government pays 49% of the costs.

The bad news is that you'll still be liable for 51% of the charge.

Call-out costs start at $401 and you'll have to pay another $3.62 for each km travelled.

So if you're stranded in woop woop and need an ambulance, your bill could run into thousands without the right cover.

Are there any waiting periods?

Yes, although typically this is only one day.

So you can't take out a policy after you've called out an ambulance and then try to make a claim.

Who is exempt from paying ambulance fees in NSW?

New South Wales ambulance services are provided at no cost for people who meet the criteria.

Here's a list of people who are eligible:

  • Victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or child abuse
  • Children or young people under the care of the state
  • People being involuntarily taken to a mental health facility
  • Health Care Card holders,
  • Pensioner Concession Card holders
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card holder
  • Repatriation Health Card holders (White or Gold)

How do I claim an exemption from ambulance costs?

To claim an exemption, you'll need your payment reference number, the issue date, and your concession card or other evidence of your eligibility.

Are ambulance fees waived for COVID-19 patients in NSW?


Patients in NSW who have COVID-19 are now exempted from paying the invoice for ambulance rides.

The same thing goes if you have experienced side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Does Medicare cover ambulances in New South Wales?


The cost of services are not covered by Medicare in NSW or anywhere in Australia.

If you want to avoid ambulance fees, you'll need the right cover.

What health funds offer cover?

All the main funds such as Bupa, HCF, Medibank and ahm offer ambulance cover, either as a standalone policy or part of a hospital cover policy.

As ever, it pays to check what you're covered for before you buy and don't assume that you're automatically covered.

For example, HCI, one of the smaller health funds, doesn't offer ambulance cover with its hospital packages -- you'll need to take out an eligible extras policy with them instead.

Will I be covered if I'm interstate?

This is where it's worth checking.

Some policies will provide cover only in NSW, while some will provide cover in any state.

How do I choose the right cover in New South Wales?

Everybody's needs are different and it's worth considering if you just want ambulance cover, or if you want a policy that gives you a little bit extra.

For example, do you want to avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge?

Or have you turned 31 and want to avoid paying Lifetime Health Cover loading fees?

Or do you want to be covered for a few common items like dental surgery and hernias as well as avoiding ambulance fees?

This is where the team at Compare Club comes in. We'll take the time, hassle and confusion out of finding the right policy.

Our specialists can help you find suitable cover at an affordable price from our panel of insurers.

If you're a NSW resident and want ambulance cover, get started below.

In just a matter of minutes, you'll see how much you could save.


This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.

References:NSW Ambulance, Accounts and Fees, Jan 2021.

NSW Ambulance, Exemption from NSW Ambulance Fees., Aug 2021.