Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS)
In this month’s MediStays blog we are talking about the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS). This scheme subsidises the costs of travel and accommodation for Victorian patients that need to travel long distances for specialist medical care. Subsidies are provided to help cover the costs of staying in accommodation close to hospitals. Patients can also claim travel costs including private car and public transport costs.
Am I eligible to apply for VPTAS?
In Victoria, the main eligibility criteria for VPTAS is distance. Distance is defined from the patient’s home address to the specialist medical facility (hospital or clinic) or dental facility. There are two distance eligibility criteria:
- People travelling more than 100km from home to medical care (one way)
- People travelling an average of 500km over a week for one or more weeks.
To claim VPTAS you also need to be a Victorian resident. You also need to be travelling to specialist medical or dental care that is not available closer to home.
When you book discounted accommodation with MediStays, you can choose to tell us your postcode. This enables us to guide you on your eligibility for VPTAS and send you the link for the relevant VPTAS paperwork.
Who decides if I am eligible to claim VPTAS?
Your medical specialist will need to confirm that you need to travel for specialist medical care. The doctor must be approved to practice as a specialist under Medicare Australia and his/her details must be included on the form. The form can be signed by the specialist or an authorised officer, such as a hospital social worker, practice manager, receptionist or nurse.
Please ask your medical specialist or staff at the clinic to assist you with this process or contact the VPTAS Office directly for further information. Once your form is submitted to the VPTAS Office, they will process your application and confirm your eligibility and reimbursements.
Am I eligible to claim the accommodation subsidy?
If you are eligible to apply for VPTAS you can claim the accommodation subsidy during your stay. You will need to stay in commercial accommodation (registered business with an ABN).
How far do I need to travel to claim PATS?
To claim VPTAS you will need to travel 100km one way (home to hospital) or 500km average over one week for one or more weeks (home to hospital).
Who can be an approved escort?
As escort is a person approved to travel with the patient. This may include your husband or wife, carer or the parents of children under 18 years of age.
How much is the accommodation subsidy?
Patients are eligible to claim $49.50/night (incl GST) accommodation subsidy.
Patients travelling with an approved escort can claim $99/night (incl GST).
If you are an approved escort for a patient admitted to hospital you can claim an accommodation subsidy of $49.50/night (incl GST).
Is there are minimum stay to claim the accommodation subsidy?
No, VPTAS entitles you to claim all accommodation costs, including one-night stays.
Do I need to pay out of pocket accommodation expenses?
If your accommodation costs are more than the VPTAS subsidy, you will need to pay some out of pocket expenses. For example, if a patient and escort stay in accommodation close to hospital at $140/night, they will pay $41 per night for accommodation. VPTAS will subsidise the remaining $99/night.
What if I stay with a relative?
Accommodation in private homes is not covered under the VPTAS scheme.
When my husband is admitted to hospital can I claim the accommodation subsidy?
Yes, if you are an approved escort you are eligible to claim the accommodation subsidy. For example, you may drive your husband to the hospital and stay nearby until he is discharged. You are eligible to claim $49.50/night accommodation subsidy in this situation.
Can I claim my train travel to Melbourne?
Yes, VPTAS covers public transport costs. Keep a copy of your tax invoices and record details of your journey (dates) on the form. If you are eligible to travel on V-Line for free, please state ‘V’ in the transport type.
How about petrol costs – can I claim these?
Yes, VPTAS covers petrol costs. If you travel in a private car, you are eligible to claim 21 cents per kilometre. The distance is calculated using google maps from your home address to medical specialist address. You do not need to provide tax invoices for petrol costs.
Are there any other costs?
You will need to pay the first $100 out of pocket costs in a treatment year. A treatment year starts from the date of the first appointment with the medical specialist. This fee is waived if you are a primary card holder for the Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card.
Can I claim VPTAS if I am part of a clinical trial?
Participation in some clinical trials will deem patients’ ineligible to claim VPTAS. Please discuss this with your medical specialist if unsure.
Do I need to keep a diary of my travel?
Yes, please enter the details of your travel and accommodation on VPTAS form Page 2. Please see our examples for further information.
What does the VPTAS form look like?
1. VPTAS Page 1:
2. VPTAS Page 2:
In this example, Ken is travelling from Wodonga to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for specialist heart care. Ken’s wife Jane has been approved to travel as his escort.
On their first journey, Ken and Jane drive to Melbourne on 5th August. Ken has several appointments and test over several days, during which time they stay nearby in commercial accommodation for four nights (check in 05/08/18 and check-out 09/08/18).
Ken and Jane drive home after the final appointment on 9th August. People travelling are Patient (P – Ken) and Escort (E – Jane). The trip type is return ® and they are travelling by car (C). They can claim four nights accommodation $99/night and petrol costs (21c x kilometres Wodonga to RMH Melbourne, return trip).
Ken needs to return to the Royal Melbourne Hospital the following week for two extra tests and an appointment. Ken travels alone (P) on a return trip (R) using the V/Line train (P – Transport type public transport). Ken requires two-nights accommodation, check in on 14/08/18 and check-out 16/08/18. Ken is eligible to claim two nights accommodation at $49.50/night and can also claim the V/Line fare with a tax invoice.
3. VPTAS Page 3:
4. VPTAS Page 4:
Helping our community to understand the PATS process is an important part of our role at MediStays. We understand the financial stress of travelling for medical care and hope to support you with helpful and practical information to make your journey easier. We are also working with accommodation providers to bulk-bill your accommodation costs where possible. For further information and links to VPTAS, please visit the MediStays Financial Support page or VPTAS Office. Check our another case study of Rosa who travelled from Mildura to Melbourne for cancer treatment here.