Ambulance cover in Queensland

AMANDA HORSWILL
Digital Editor · 26 July 2021
If you have an emergency in Queensland that requires an ambulance ride, do you need to pay for that trip? We take a look at who is covered and who may have to pay for their ambulance transport.

Ambulance services provide essential services across Australia, assisting and transporting those in need to hospital or other care centres. In many parts of Australia, the patient is required to pay for those services, either out of their own pockets or via taking out a private health insurance policy that includes ambulance cover.

If you are in Australia and need an ambulance, call Triple Zero (000).

Do you need to pay for ambulance transport in Qld?

Whether or not you have to pay for ambulance transport in Queensland depends on if you are a resident of the state:

Permanent resident of Queensland: Ambulance transport for Queenslanders is free (nationally).

Not a permanent resident of Queensland: You may have to pay for ambulance services in Queensland, although some exemptions do apply.

But how exactly does it work and what about non-Queensland residents visiting the Sunshine State? Let’s take a look.

Access to ambulance services for QLD residents – how it works

Ambulance assistance or transport within QLD

If you or one of your dependents requires ambulance assistance and/or transport within the state of Queensland, that service will be provided for free if at least one of you is a Queensland resident. This is because the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) is fully funded by the Queensland Government. Their services include transport to both private and public hospitals, such as after an emergency, as well as transport from one hospital to another and other medically authorised transport.

It’s important to note that health insurance cannot currently cover private hospital accident and emergency department visits unless a patient is admitted to the hospital for further treatment. There could be unexpected out-of-pocket costs. Check with your health insurer.

Ambulance assistance or transport outside QLD

The Queensland Government explains that if you or one of your dependants receives ambulance assistance or transport outside of Queensland, you will receive an invoice for these services which you can then forward to the QAS for payment. In doing so, you may need to provide proof that you are a Queensland resident, for example by supplying a current copy of your driver’s licence or a recent bank statement showing your address.

Definition of a dependant: A dependant is an “individuals who are under 25 years of age and a full-time student at an education institution”, according to the Qld Government. This could mean, for example, a under-25 university student studying interstate but whose parent(s) or guardian permanently resides in Queensland. Proof may be required, such as a current Medicare care, birth certificate or student ID card.


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The table below displays a snapshot of 5-Star hospital & extras policies on Canstar’s database with links to providers’ websites, sorted by provider name (alphabetically). Please note the results are based on a young couple (aged under 35) in NSW.


Are visitors to Qld covered for ambulance services?

Non-Queensland residents are typically not eligible for free ambulance services within Queensland, and may be responsible for paying the costs of any QAS services provided to them. Domestic travel insurance also may not cover all emergency medical transport costs. This is where health insurance with Ambulance Cover may help. There are a handful of exceptions as outlined by the Queensland Government:

  • Aged under 25 and a full-time student at a Queensland educational institution
  • Aged under 25 and a full-time student at an interstate educational institution and a child of a person whose principal place of residence is in Queensland
  • Hold an eligible Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) card
  • Covered by a claim under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 or Motors Accident Insurance Fund.

Requests for exemptions can be made to QAS.

New South Wales residents

NSW residents may be eligible to have any ambulance assistance received in Queensland paid for if:

  • They hold a pensioner or healthcare card, in which case the Ambulance Service of NSW can pay your account
  • They hold basic hospital cover in NSW, in which case an ambulance levy is included as part of their premium and they can forward the invoice to their health fund for payment

ACT residents

ACT residents who are covered for interstate ambulance services through their private health insurer will be able to forward an invoice for ambulance services provided to their health fund.

Victorian residents

Victorian residents may be eligible to have any ambulance services received paid for by Ambulance Victoria if they:

  • Hold a pensioner or health care concession card, or
  • Are an Ambulance Victoria member, or
  • Are covered for interstate ambulance services through a private health insurer

Tasmanian residents

Tasmanian residents may be eligible to have any ambulance services they receive paid for if they are covered for interstate ambulance services through a private health insurer. (The Tasmanian government covers ambulance services for Tasmanian residents who need it while in their home state, as well as other selected states and territories. Queensland is not one of those areas covered.)

South Australian residents

South Australian residents may be eligible to have the costs of any ambulance services received paid for if they:

  • Are a South Australia Ambulance Service member with interstate ambulance cover, or
  • Are covered for interstate ambulance services through a private health insurer

Western Australian residents

Western Australian residents may be eligible to have any ambulance services received paid for if they are covered for interstate ambulance services through a private health insurer.

Northern Territory residents

Northern Territory residents may be eligible to have any ambulance services received paid for if they:

  • Are a St John Ambulance Service subscription scheme member, or
  • Are covered for interstate ambulance services through a private health insurer

Expats and other international visitors

Expats and other international visitors who do not live in Australia are encouraged by the Queensland Government to get in touch with a travel agent to discuss potential options for ambulance cover while spending time in the state.

What is ambulance cover?

While ambulance services are a fundamental component of the hospital system, they’re not covered by Medicare – which means that in some Australian states and territories, ambulance services are not free.

This in turn means that, as with any other medical service not covered by Medicare, you could be paying out of pocket if you don’t have have an appropriate level of insurance in place. However, there are some states where ambulance services are covered by the government. Travel insurance may not cover the cost of ambulance transport.

Health insurance cover for ambulance services can take a few different forms – some health insurers offer a standalone ambulance cover product, whereas most simply cover ambulance costs under their hospital or extras products.

While ambulance services are free to Queensland residents, once the ambulance gets you to the hospital, you may need cover for any further medical assistance you’re given, depending on factors like the hospital you go to and the types of treatment you receive. This means you may want to consider having a high-quality health insurance policy in place, just in case.

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This content was reviewed by Sub Editor Tom Letts and Deputy Editor Sean Callery as part of our fact-checking process.


A journalist for more than two decades, Amanda has covered a gamut of subjects, including property, lifestyle, data journalism, local news and careers. Previously, she worked for a major metropolitan news media organisation, in senior editing and reporting roles.

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