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How TRICARE Covers Ambulance Services

In some emergencies, an ambulance could be the difference between life and death.  Fortunately, your TRICARE plan covers ambulance services in these situations. If you  have TRICARE For Life, you must follow Medicare’s rules for ambulance services. 


Outpatient and inpatient ambulance services 


Your location plays a role in the type of ambulance service you receive. Outpatient ambulance  service happens when an ambulance takes you from your home, an accident scene, or another  location to a hospital. Inpatient ambulance service happens when an ambulance takes you  from one hospital to a hospital more capable of providing the care you need. These services  have out-of-pocket costs based on: 

  • Your TRICARE plan 
  • Your beneficiary group 
  • Whether you go to a network hospital or a non-network hospital 
  • Whether the ambulance service is inpatient or outpatient 

You can find these costs with the Compare Costs tool. Call your regional contractor to learn  more. 


Treat-and-release service 


Treat-and-release service is when an ambulance treats you for an emergency but doesn’t take  you to a hospital. TRICARE covers treat-and-release when: 

  • The services you receive are medically necessary. 
  • You don’t need to go to a hospital. 
  • You refuse transport after being treated. 


Air and boat evacuation 


Emergency transport by air or boat may be medically necessary. TRICARE covers air or boat  evacuation only if: 

  • A regular “land” ambulance can’t get to you. 
  • The nearest facility is far away or there are other obstacles. 
  • You must be seen quickly for your medical condition. 
  • You can’t safely get the care you need in your location. 
  • You’re taken to the nearest hospital with appropriate facilities. 


Ambulance services overseas 


The TRICARE Overseas contractor, International SOS, provides 24/7 support if you need  emergency care. Call International SOS to confirm your coverage before you receive ambulance  transport. On the Contact Us page, choose where you’re located to see a list of contact  numbers, including Medical Assistance numbers.

As noted in the TRICARE Overseas Program  Handbook, you should only call Medical Assistance numbers to coordinate emergency care. 




TRICARE doesn’t cover ambulance services that aren’t medically necessary. To learn more  about what TRICARE covers, check out Ambulance Services. Remember, if you have a medical  emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.



*For more posts like this, visit the Defense Health Agency’s Homepage or Mission:Milspouse’s DHA Author Page.




  • Defense Health Agency

    The Defense Health Agency is a joint, integrated Combat Support Agency that enables the Army, Navy, and Air Force medical services to provide a medically ready force and ready medical force to Combatant Commands in both peacetime and wartime. Their mission is to provide a medical benefit commensurate with the service and sacrifice of more than 9.6 million active duty personnel, military retirees and their families.


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