Interstate Patient Travel Scheme (IPTS)
The IPTS covers travel expenses such as return economy airfare from the patient’s place of residence to the interstate health care unit, reasonable accommodation, taxis to and from the airports and in some circumstances for Health Care Card holders, a living away allowance.
Who can apply?
Patients can apply for IPTS assistance if:
- they have a permanent residential address in WA or can demonstrate they have spent more than six months of the previous 12 months in WA
- they have a Medicare card or are covered under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement
- the specialist medical services sought interstate are not available in WA and
- they are referred by a WA medical specialist.
What specialist medical services are eligible under the Scheme?
Specialist medical treatment eligible under IPTS include those that are:
- covered by the Commonwealth Medicare Benefits Schedule
- deemed essential by the treating WA specialist and
- the treatment, or suitable alternative, is not available in WA.
What specialist medical services are not eligible?
- treatment that is available in WA
- treatment not covered by a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item number
- routine follow-up appointments where the index medical condition is stable
- second opinions
- research and clinical trials
- experimental treatment
- dental or orthodontic services
- non specialist medical treatment
- allied health services (e.g. speech pathology, physiotherapy, podiatry, clinical psychology etc.)
- nursing services/residential care facilities
- services of a type or location that an applicant prefers, if suitable alternatives exist in WA
- diagnostic work-up visits, if available in WA
- medical advice, or a medical assessment.
Who can be a funded non-medical escort?
Patients aged 17 years and under are automatically entitled to one non-medical escort. In life threatening circumstances an additional escort may be approved. Patients 18 years and over are not entitled to an escort except in extreme circumstances where pre-approval has been granted by the Chief Medical Officer.
To be eligible the escort must be:
- the patient’s parent, guardian or next of kin
- travelling with the patient
- certified by the referring specialist as necessary for the medical well-being of the patient (i.e. patient at significant medical risk if travelling alone). General or emotional support to the adult patient is an insufficient reason.
Approved escorts will have their travel arrangements made by the IPTS Administrator. Escorts that are not approved may still choose to travel with the patient but will be required to self-fund their travel and accommodation.
Who is eligible for a living away allowance?
Approved applicants on a Concession Card may claim a Living Away Allowance (LAA) for each day you are interstate. This includes the days you travel to and from the interstate destination except when leaving first thing in the morning on a return flight. No allowance is payable to the patient on days they are admitted to hospital.
LAA is usually paid on completion of the interstate round trip.
How can I apply?
An IPTS application form (external link) is required for each trip and must be completed by the WA referring medical specialist. Forms signed by general practitioners or non-specialist doctors are not accepted. You must lodge your application form before you travel. Lodgement of an application does not guarantee approval.
What if my application is not approved?
If you believe you have a sound basis to appeal the decision, you can complete and submit an IPTS appeals form (PDF 825KB).
For further details contact the IPTS Administrator on 08 9222 2474 or via email.
WA Country Health Service
Office of the Chief Medical Officer
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.