How Much Does an Ambulance Ride Cost?

An ambulance ride costs an average of $1,300 in the United States. This cost can vary depending on where you live, how close the hospital is, and whether you need advanced life support or basic life support.

Advanced life support is used for life-threatening emergencies, while basic life support is used for non-emergency injuries such as broken bones. In the United States, basic life support ambulance transfer costs around $950.

If you are having a life-threatening emergency, it is not safe to drive yourself to the hospital. Always call 911 if you are in severe pain, are having trouble breathing, or are experiencing confusion or symptoms of anaphylaxis.

This article will go over the factors that determine the cost of an ambulance ride and who pays the bill.

Paramedics taking patient on stretcher from ambulance to hospital
Paul Burns / Getty Images

What Is the Average Cost of an Ambulance Ride?

In the United States, the average cost of advanced life support ambulance transport is around $1,300. Basic life support ambulance transport costs around $950.

Does Health Insurance Cover the Cost of an Ambulance Ride?

Most healthcare policies cover the cost of an ambulance ride, as long as it's deemed medically necessary. Depending on your policy, you may have to pay a deductible or copay. If you're not sure, check your policy or call your healthcare insurance provider.

If you have Medicare, you will have to pay a percentage of the cost of the ride, as long as you have already met your yearly Part B deductible. Medicare also requires that you are taken to the closest medical facility that is able to treat your condition. If you request transport to another medical facility, you will be billed for the extra miles traveled.

If you're in a car accident, your auto insurance may cover the cost of the ambulance ride. If so, it is best to use your auto insurance since you won't be charged a copay. Your auto insurance may even cover the cost of your health insurance's copay or deductible. Always check your policy to see what is covered; some auto insurance benefits aren't available in every state.

The way in which Medicare and Medicaid pay depends on the fees set by the government. That means that as payers, they're indifferent to how much an ambulance company charges.

What if You Don’t Have Health Insurance?

If you don't have health insurance, you'll be billed for the ambulance ride directly. The final cost will include the services received and a per-mile charge. If you don't have insurance, it is best to request transport to the nearest medical facility, since the extra miles can be expensive. 

It is often possible to negotiate the final cost of your bill and arrange to make payments if you can't afford to pay the bill upfront. 

Uninsured patients are often charged higher prices than insured patients. Once you've received your bill, use the Healthcare Bluebook to find the fair market price for the services you received, then contact the ambulance service's billing department to negotiate a reduced price based on this information. If the representative refuses your request, ask to speak to a supervisor. 

What Factors Contribute to the Cost of an Ambulance Ride? 

Besides the type of care provided (advanced vs. basic), there are other factors that contribute to the cost of an ambulance ride. These include:

  • Whether the ambulance is operated by a for-profit company, a non-profit, or is government-owned
  • The number of miles the ambulance had to travel
  • What medical supplies were used, such as gauze, needles, and medications
  • The number of medical personnel who were present and provided services during your transport 

Can You Choose the Hospital?

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, the ambulance will take you to the nearest facility that is able to treat your condition. This might be a hospital that is out of your insurance company's network. 

If your treatment does not require immediate care, you may be able to ask the ambulance crew to take you to the hospital of your choice. Keep in mind that you will be charged for the extra miles the ambulance will have to travel to get you to that hospital. And the paramedics can always refuse your request if it violates policy or if they believe it may threaten your safety or their ability to provide the care you need.

When Is It Safe To Drive Yourself to the ER?

If you have an injury that isn't life-threatening, such as a broken bone, it will be more cost-effective to have someone else drive you to the hospital. Urgent care facilities are typically faster and more affordable than ERs, so if your injury occurs during business hours, it may be best to seek care at this type of medical center. 

If you're having a medical emergency, don't think about the cost. If you can't get to a hospital safely on your own, call 911.

Emergency symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, or confusion. Not only is it dangerous to drive yourself to a hospital when you're experiencing these symptoms, but it will also take extra time that can prevent you from getting the care you need as soon as you need it.

If you're unsure whether or not you can safely drive to a hospital, it is always best to defer to calling an ambulance.

When the paramedics respond, if what you thought was an emergency really isn't, remember that you also have the right to refuse treatment.

If you really do need help, don't refuse it just because you're worried about the bill.


The cost of an ambulance ride in the United States can vary, but it usually averages around $1,300 for advanced life support transport and $950 for basic life support transport.

Most health insurance policies will pay for medically necessary ambulance transport, though they may require you to meet your deductible first or pay a copay. If you don't have health insurance, it may be possible to reduce to cost of your bill or negotiate a payment plan.

Don't drive yourself to the ER if you're experiencing life-threatening symptoms. It is always best to call 911 if you're not sure you can make it to the ER on your own.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fair Health, Inc. Ground ambulance services in the United States.

  2. Medicare coverage of ambulance services.

  3. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Ambulance fee schedule.

By Rod Brouhard, EMT-P
Rod Brouhard is an emergency medical technician paramedic (EMT-P), journalist, educator, and advocate for emergency medical service providers and patients.