Who pays for ambulance services?

The Government of Alberta provides significant funding to provide emergency medical services (EMS) to Albertans even though the Canada Health Act does not require the Government of Alberta to provide EMS / ambulance services as insured services.

The amount patients are charged (if they receive a bill) for emergency health services is only a small portion of the actual cost of the services provided.

Ambulance rates have changed

A new province-wide rate for ground ambulance service came into effect January 1, 2015. All Albertans, regardless of where they live in the province, will pay the same rate for ground ambulance service in Alberta.

The new provincial rate has two fees:

  1. $250 if a patient is treated at the scene, but not transported to a hospital, or
  2. $385 if a patient is transported to a hospital.

Important notice

  • An additional $200 surcharge applies to a patient who is a non-resident of Alberta, whether the patient is transported or not.
  • Payment for ambulance services is the responsibility of the patient unless they fall into a category of coverage as noted below.

Seniors

Seniors, age 65 and over, enrolled in the Coverage for Seniors program – which is free – do not receive a bill for ambulance services. Alberta Health pays the complete cost of ambulance services. The Coverage for Seniors program is administered by Alberta Blue Cross.

First Nations clients

Health Canada pays the user fee for emergency medical services for First Nations people.

Income support

Alberta Human Services pays the cost of emergency ambulance services for Albertans receiving health benefits through Income Support, Adult Health Benefits or Alberta Child Health Benefits.

Non-group supplementary insurance

Albertans can avoid emergency ambulance charges by purchasing supplementary medical insurance, such as the Alberta Blue Cross Non-Group Coverage Plan or other plans offered by insurance providers.

Inter-hospital transfer

Albertans transported by ground ambulance from one hospital to another to receive a higher level of care will not receive bills for the costs involved. The cost of these inter-facility transfers are covered when a patient’s physician recommends the transfer is medically necessary.

If you have any questions regarding an ambulance bill that you have received please email Alberta Health Services Billing Inquiries or call 1-877-506-3230.

Ambulance services outside Alberta

All Albertans, including seniors, must pay the cost of emergency ambulance services and interfacility transfers when travelling outside Alberta because these services are not covered by inter-provincial reciprocal health care agreements.

Air ambulance services are not insured services under the Canada Health Act, and in most provinces, are not covered by inter-provincial reciprocal agreements.

IMPORTANT: Albertans travelling outside of the province are strongly advised to make sure their supplementary health insurance or travel medical insurance will assist with the cost of ground or air ambulance services whenever they leave Alberta.

Ambulance services outside Canada

Albertans travelling outside Canada should make sure that they have a supplementary medical insurance plan that will cover the cost of ground/air ambulance transport back to Alberta if it becomes necessary.

Alberta ground ambulance services do not normally provide any services outside of the province. This means an Alberta ambulance will not travel out of the province to bring home an Albertan who has been injured or becomes ill outside of Alberta.