Overusing EMS in Mesa County

MESA COUNTY, Colo. For Mesa County Emergency Responders, the work never stops, and the amount of money they get back compared to the price of every single ambulance ride, is minimal.

From cardiac arrests to inter-hospital transports, if you call 911, emergency responders will be there.

"Every time we do respond to an incident certainly that takes resources out of the system," says Grand Junction Deputy Fire Chief, Jim Bright. "Then [they] are not available for a period of time for other people who may need them."

In 2012 Grand Junction Fire alone provided nearly 8,000 transports and what many people don't realize, is if you do end up in the back of an ambulance, it may end up costing you hundreds of dollars.

Base rates for ambulance transport are set by the county and then a per mile charge is added on top, and those miles add up quickly... especially when your insurance won't pay.

"I get a call at least once a day why are they paying so much for such a short ride," says Lower Valley Fire Ambulance Billing Specialist, Bette Burnett. "90% of the time it's because their insurance didn't pay for it or it wasn't urgent or medically necessary."

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