Does Medicare Cover Ambulance Services?

Learn if Medicare covers emergency and non-emergency ambulance services

by Amy De Vore+ on Jun 23, 2015 | 16 Comments

Ambulance services are meant to transport emergency and non-emergency patients to a hospital, critical care facility, or Skilled Nursing Facility. Ambulatory services can be expensive, and can require specific conditions to qualify for an ambulance ride. Many Medicare eligible wonder if Medicare covers this cost.

Does Medicare Cover Ambulance Services?

Emergency Ambulance Services
Medicare Part B will partially cover (you pay 20% and deductible apply: $185) emergency ambulance ground and air services if you meet certain qualifications such as: you are in shock, bleeding heavily, and/or need medical treatment while be transported to a facility. Air services are partially covered if there is a lot of traffic or if it would be difficult for ground transportation to reach you.

Non-Emergency Ambulance Services
Medicare will partially (you pay 20% and deductible apply: $185) cover non-emergency ambulance ground services if ALL of these apply:

  • Ambulance transportation is needed to obtain treatment or diagnose your health condition.
  • The use of any other transportation method (car, taxi, subway) could endanger your health.
  • You have a written order from your doctor stating that ambulance transportation is necessary.

Does Medigap Cover Ambulance Services?

Yes, all Medigap plans cover all or part of your emergency and non-emergency Medicare Part B coinsurance, but remember only Medigap “C” and “F” cover your Part B deductible. So if you have “C” or “F” you wouldn’t have any out of pocket costs for Medicare approved ambulance services.

Learn More about Medigap Get a Medigap Quote

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Ambulance Services?

Yes, Medicare Advantage (MA) partially covers ambulance services, but your cost can vary. The thing to remember with MA plans is that each plan offered in your area varies in coverage, so what this means is each plan can charge a different amount for ambulance services.

Learn More about Medicare AdvantageGet a MA Quote

For more information about about what Medicare covers contact a Senior65 agent at 800-930-7956.

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Reader Comments and Questions

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By Charles on June 22, 2019

How do I go about appealing a charge medicare refused to pay?

You will need to speak to Medicare directly. We do recommend that if you decide to appeal, you ask your doctor, health care provider, or supplier for any information that may help your case. See your plan materials, or contact your plan for details about your appeal rights.
-Chris from

By Carol on June 18, 2019

I have as my primary care medical insurance, Medicare, and secondary, Medigap part F with Blue Shield of CA. I had an ambulance take me from Adventist Hospital in Glendale to the Norris Cancer Hospital on the USC campus sa my oncologist and all my Dr.’s and Caretakers are there. I went to Glendale Adventist as I was in extreme pain and dehydrated. Medicare is not paying the ambulance fee. Why? I also have Medigap part F. Shouldn’t the transfer fee be covered? My Oncology Dr. made the arrangements.

Medicare and Medigap cover the ambulance if it was an emergency. There are rules, however, that state they will only cover the transport to the nearest appropriate facility. You will have to check with Medicare directly on why they didn't cover this ambulance. If you signed up for Medigap through then we can help follow up on your Medigap reimbursement.
-Chris from

By david on June 14, 2019

a vein burst in my leg and I was bleeding profusely. We called 911 and asked for an ambulance. It certainly was an emergency but I am being charged a fee of $300. I have never been charged before for ambulance in an emergency. Why now? Doesn't medicare cover the whole thing.

As stated in the article, ambulance transport is indeed covered under Medicare emergency circumstances but you will still be on the hook for 20% plus your part B deductible. It sounds like yours would be the case. Please contact Medicare with your situation.

As a reminder, Medigap Plan F and C cover all those out of pocket expenses mentioned above when it comes to ambulance services. Medicare Advantage does so too, even though your cost can vary. Give us a call if you wish to enroll!
-Michelle from

By Kenneth on May 07, 2019

I had to use an ambulance to go to the hospital. In the past heart condition ,R/A and other bad problems. I am 76 yrs. old. can't walk well my wife just had a stroke and couldn't help. I was vomiting to dizzy to drive or walk. I was dehydrated badly. the diagnosis was bronchitis and dehydration. This certainly felt like and emergency to me. Will they pay for the ambulamce ride

Medicare covers a portion of ambulance transportation when medically necessary. It does sound like your situation was serious. Nevertheless, you should confirm with Medicare directly.
-Michelle from

By SHELIA on March 20, 2019

My husband was having difficulty breathing, so I called 911, emergency squad, who stabilized him and transported him to the hospital emergency room. He is on medicare, 74 yrs old, does medicare cover this bill?

Medicare covers ambulance transportation to the hospital if it's medically necessary. So, like the article states above, there is coverage by Medicare. Without a Medigap plan F, however, you would be subject to the Part B deductible and 20% of the cost.

-Chris from

By Lewis on February 01, 2019

I had gone to a local area urgent care facility for treatment of Flu symptoms. Upon initial review by the physician it was noted that my blood pressure was abnormally low. It was recommended by the physician at the urgent care facility after consultation with my primary care physician that I go to an ER for treatment. It was recommended that I not drive as to the possibility of passing out due to the low BP. As I did not have any other means of transport they called for an ambulance. I was taken to a local Hospital ER and treated. I was discharged after one day stay. Medicare has denied payment and on appeal also denied payment. I am currently in the process of an independent appeal process. Can you tell me what is the Medicare amount that would have been paid for the service provided? I am located in NY under Carrier 13202, Locality 02. I am trying to settle this matter as the outstanding ambulance bill has now gone to a collection agency. Thank you for any assistance.

Hello Lewis,
If covered, Medicare usually pays 80% of ambulance fees but this amount may vary based on circumstances. Please call the Center for Medicare Services to confirm what it would be in your case if approved.

-Chris from

By MaryAnn Sosnowski on March 03, 2017

I am 69 & have been on medicare, Plan F since I have enrolled, when I turned 65. Does my plan afford me ambulance costs?

Plan F will cover the gaps in coverage, including emergency and some non-emergency ambulance services. To determine if your ambulance transportation is covered you will want to call Medicare directly.
-Amy from

By Gail on January 26, 2017

Is there a limit under Medicare regarding how many times in a 12 month period ambulance transport will be paid. We also have medigap Part F

There isn't a limit, however, in some states you may need to get pre-approval for your 4th ambulance ride in 30 days.Without the pre-approval, you'll be denied and Medigap Plan F won't cover the expenses either. To find out if you need to get pre-approval, you'll want to contact Medicare directly.
-Chris from

By Patte McDowell on October 17, 2016

How can transportation be denied to out of state rehab center if doctor says it is too dangerous for patient to be transported any other way?

Non-emergency transportation is on a case by case basis. You will want to contact Medicare directly to find out why you were denied.
-Chris from

By Helen Wells on July 11, 2016

My husband had a stroke paralyzed on left side now has a fractured hip on right side can not walk or sit up. Goes too Dialyis 3days a week, by ambulance when discharged from rehab was told too see his primary Dr.Ambulance company says he is not qualifity too be pick up for Dr visits can u explain this please what can we do he is 82yrs

You will need to get a written notice from your husband's doctor to Medicare stating that non-emergency transportation is medically necessary. Hopefully, Medicare will approve the costs. Best of luck!
-Amy from

By Randy Graham on April 22, 2016

What is the Medicare approved amount or per mile approved amount for an air ambulance. And it would be a necessary service. Randy

Medicare doesn't specify miles or a cap on coverage for air transport for emergencies, but it does lay out specific rules that apply to be covered:

1) Your pickup location can't be easily reached by ground transportation.
2) Long distances or other obstacles, like heavy traffic, could stop you from getting care quickly if you traveled by ground ambulance.

But the important thing to remember is you'll still have to pay your Part B deductible and coinsurance (possibly copays, too), if you don't have a Medigap policy. To learn more about covering your Medicare costs with a Medigap plan call one of our licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Eric from

By richard schmelz on April 04, 2016

one article said medicare will cover emergency ambulance service, without specifying if part A or B pays for the service. can you clarify if part A pays for the service? thank you

Medicare Part B pays toward ambulance services, but you will still owe your Part B deductible and 20% coinsurance. If you need help offsetting these costs, you may want to consider a Medgap plan that fills in the gaps. To learn more abotu Medigap plans in your area, please call one of our licensed independent insurance agents to learn more at 800-930-7956.
-Chris from

By Walt on September 15, 2015

My wife had a stroke and a craniotomy was performed. After 3 mos. the scull had to be replaced she was transported in a wheelchair to the hospital for the operation and paid by me. She was transported by gurney to the rehab facility after a three day stay in the hospital. Medicare has denied paying for the return trip. Should I appeal the bill ?

It definitely doesn't hurt to appeal to Medicare. You might also want to call them to see why it wasn't covered. They might be able to send you detailed information on why your original claim was denied. It could be as simple as it wasn't through a Medicare-approved doctor, facility, or ambulance service, or paperwork was missing. It also could be that they didn't believe she required non-emergency ambulance transportation. Hope it all works out for you.
-Chris from

By Medicare Cover Ambulance Services on August 14, 2015

Non- Emergency Ambulance Services means to transport patients to a hospital; ambulance transportation is needed to take the person to its destination. Air service are also provide if there are lot of traffic and difficult to ground transportation to reach you.

By Rick on July 09, 2015

If I am taken by ambulance but I'm not bleeding or in shock but I didn't have another way to get to the hospital for an emergency, no one to drive me, far from a taxi, would I have to pay all my ambulance costs?

It would depend if Medicare deems it necessary. Our suggestion is that you contact Medicare before you have an emergency to learn if where you live would qualify.
-Eric from

By Olive on June 30, 2015

It looks like medigap covers the most ambulance costs. Which plan c or f is better?

Both Medigap plans cover a lot, but only F covers everything that Medigap covers. Hope this helps.
-Michelle from

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