Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Overview

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) benefit covers family planning and emergency services for people who qualify. EMS is a limited benefit that does not cover all medical services. It is also known as “Emergency Medicaid” or “Emergency Services Only.”

Who Qualifies for EMS?

To qualify for EMS, you must meet all the requirements for Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) except for immigration or citizenship status requirements.

People who may qualify for EMS include, but are not limited to:

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients
  • People without legal immigration status.
  • Non-immigrant visa holders such as tourists and students
  • People with Temporary Protected Status
  • Adult legal permanent residents (green card holders) who have not been in the U.S lawfully for at least five years
    • Children and anyone who is pregnant may qualify for full Medicaid even if they haven’t been in the U.S. lawfully for at least five years.

Please apply to see if you qualify, even if you are unsure if you qualify or about your immigration status. You do not need a Social Security number to qualify for EMS.

If you qualify for EMS and family planning services, we will send you a letter confirming your coverage. EMS members have coverage for 12 months until it’s time for renewal or there is a qualifying life change that impacts your eligibility.

If you don’t qualify, but you have questions or think you should qualify for EMS, you can call your county’s Department of Human Services. This phone number will be listed on the bottom of the letter received. You can also get help applying at your local application assistance site.

Covered EMS Benefits and Services

​​​​​EMS is a limited benefit plan. EMS only covers family planning and emergency services. You will not have full Health First Colorado coverage.

Emergency Services 

Services for life- or limb- threatening medical emergencies such as:

  • Life-threatening health emergencies (such as chest pain, heart attack, appendicitis, etc.) 
  • Labor and delivery (not including prenatal or postpartum care) 
  • Dialysis for End-Stage Renal Disease at a freestanding dialysis center 

Learn more about Emergency Services  

Family Planning Services

Services to delay, prevent or plan a pregnancy such as:  

  • A 12-month supply of birth control 
  • Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)  
  • Sterilization services 
  • Basic fertility services 
  • Birth control counseling 

Family planning services don’t have to be emergencies. 

 Learn more about Family Planning Services 

How long does coverage last?

EMS members are covered for family planning and emergency services for 12 months unless they have certain changes, like an increase in income. After 12 months, individuals will need to complete the renewal process to determine if they still qualify for health coverage.

How to apply

Online: Go to CO.gov/PEAK and create an account to apply for public benefits, including EMS.

Phone: Call 800-221-3943 (State Relay: 711). Phone applications are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mail: Download and print a paper application. (Available in English and Spanish).

In person: Apply in person at your county’s Department of Human Services or a local application assistance site. You do not need a Social Security number to apply. Go to this list of what you need to apply.

Confidentiality Notice: Information you provide on your application is confidential and cannot be shared with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Colorado law protects your personal information when applying for or enrolling in most public benefits. Your information may only be shared with some federal agencies if there is an audit from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the Inspector General. If shared, the information does not impact your immigration status and can’t be used in a public charge decision.

Cover All Coloradans: Expanded coverage for pregnant people and children

Coming in 2025: Expanded health coverage for pregnant people and children, known as Cover All Coloradans, will expand Health First Colorado and CHP+ benefits to children and people who are pregnant regardless of their immigration or citizenship status. Pregnant people will be covered for 12 months following the end of a pregnancy, and children will be covered until they turn 18. Learn more about the new Cover All Coloradans benefits.

Additional Resources

Frequently asked questions:

For more information contact

Current members can call the Health First Colorado Member Contact Center: 800-221-3943 (State Relay: 711)

Provider information can be found on our Maternal and Reproductive Health Resources page or through the Gainwell Provider Portal.


Emergency Services

Family Planning Services