PROHIBITIVE ambulance costs may be putting people's lives at risk, a survey of more than 11,000 Australians has found.
It has prompted the National Heart Foundation to call for all Australians to have access to universal ambulance cover, which exists only in Queensland and Tasmania.
The research identified cost as a barrier to calling 000 for up to 650,000 people.
"Research has found that the cost of ambulance care influences many people to delay or avoid calling Triple Zero (000) for life-threatening conditions such as heart attack," NHF CEO Dr Lyn Roberts said.
"This can result in extended delays to treatment."
She said universal ambulance cover would mean every Australian had the opportunity to promptly access free ambulance care in times of an emergency, without having to worry about whether they can afford it or not.
In the national survey 43.5% of respondents outside Queensland and Tasmania and who were not covered for an ambulance said it would be too expensive to call 000 if they thought they were experiencing a heart attack.
"What this research highlights is that the ambulance service is an integral part of heart attack care, not just a transport service," Dr Roberts said.
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