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Ambulance fees an important insurance consideration

1 July 2011 - 6:28pm

Victoria residents with private health insurance should ensure they check their policy carefully to see whether or not ambulance cover is included.

Greg Sassella, chief executive of Ambulance Victoria offered the advice as new figures showing only 2.2 million Victorians - out of a state population of more than 5.5 million - are covered by the state's ambulance membership scheme.

He hopes that the drop in membership fees from $75 to $37.50 for a single person - which take effect from today (July 1) - will encourage people to take advantage of the scheme. Residents of Victoria can expect to see an advertising campaign promoting the new fees this month.

Individuals without ambulance membership could face costs of up to $944.99 if they travel by road - and $3,279.31 for the first hour in a helicopter ambulance.

Inflation, higher charges from contractors and rising operational costs have all contributed to increasing prices when it comes to ambulance services, he said.

As many private insurers can include exceptions when it comes to ambulance cover, it is particularly important for people to read the small print in their policies, Mr Sassella remarked.

"People need to check carefully before they sign up to health care insurance," he told the newspaper.

Ambulance charges can differ considerably between states - for example, Tasmanian residents are entitled to a free service in many cases. It is always best to check with your state government's health department and your insurer to ensure you are aware of any potential fees.