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6. Financial assistance to get to Adelaide

South Australian Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS)

This scheme provides country patients with some reimbursement for the cost of travel and accommodation when they’re required to travel over 100 kilometres (each way) to receive specialist medical treatment.

To be eligible you must:

  • be a permanent Australian citizen or permanent resident residing in South Australia,
  • have been referred by your local GP to the nearest treating specialist doctor for specialist treatment that is claimable under Medicare,
  • live more than 100km away from your nearest treating specialist, and
  • have claimed as much as possible from your private health fund (if you have private health insurance).

Current rates of reimbursement are:

  • 16 cents per kilometre for travel by car, the full payment of the cost of public transport if approved, or full payment of air travel if deemed essential by your doctor.
  • Up to $40 (plus GST) per night for commercial accommodation if you are required to stay overnight.

To obtain financial assistance from this scheme you will need to complete a PATS Application Form. This form can be found via www.countryhealthsa.sa.gov.au/pats, by asking your local GP for a paper copy, or by visiting your local PATS office. Once you have the form:

  1. Ask your local GP to complete section 1.
  2. Ask your treating specialist doctor to complete section 2.
  3. Complete section 3 yourself, attach relevant receipts and send it to your local PATS office. To find your local PATS office, see below.

The money will be transferred into your bank account electronically within 6 weeks.

Travel expenses for an approved escort may also be covered by PATS using the same form as the patient. The escort must be deemed necessary by your local GP or treating specialist doctor, travel with the patient and be at least 18 years of age.

Tips for dealing with PATS:

  • Make sure you get your GP to fill out and sign the form before you travel for treatment. If you don’t do this (particularly the first time you travel), problems can result.
  • Ask your GP if you’re eligible to travel by air and/or take an escort and if so, to fill out the relevant section on the form. PATS may cover these costs if medically endorsed.
  • Keep original receipts for all travel (e.g. aircraft, bus) and accommodation. Fuel receipts are not required.
  • Don’t send your form back to PATS until the end of your stay away (if you send it back and then your trip is extended, the paperwork can become complicated).
  • Remember that you cannot claim private accommodation expenses, meals, taxi-fares (even to and from airports or bus terminals) and other incidental costs.
  • A separate claim form must be completed for each trip.
  • Applications must be received within 3 months of your specialist appointment.
  • If you’re experiencing financial hardship and you’re a concession card holder, you can ask to be sent a fuel card before you travel. Alternatively you may ask PATS to pay your transport bill in advance. To do this, you will need to ring your local PATS office, verify that you’re eligible for an advanced payment, book the transport with the appropriate booking agent and provide your local PATS office with relevant documentation.
  • For further information visit www.countryhealthsa.sa.gov.au/pats. This website contains a calculator to help you work out your claim amount if traveling by car, the necessary application form and other useful information. Alternatively, contact your local PATS office using the numbers below, or click on the links to learn more about each of these services.

PATS office details:

If you’re traveling to Adelaide from interstate, you will need to find out about your local travel subsidy scheme. The following contact details may be useful to you.

Repatriation Transport Scheme

This scheme (run by the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs) may pay some traveling expenses for a veteran to attend the closest practicable health care provider. For more information visit http://www.dva.gov.au/health-and-wellbeing/home-and-care/travel-treatment#HSV03.  If within South Australia, Northern Territory and Broken Hill, phone 13 32 54 or (08) 8290 0392 for approvals and 1300 550 455 for all bookings.