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Bay Alarm Medical Review 2022

Sep 28, 2022

By Chrissy Holm
Medically Reviewed by Christopher Norman, MSN, APRN, APHN-BC, GNP-BC
Reviewed by Kathleen Cameron, BSPharm, MPH, Senior Director of NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging
Fact Checked

Bay Alarm Medical Best for the Price
4.5/5

  30-day risk-free trial

  No long-term contracts

  GPS location tracking for no additional cost

Key Takeaways

  • Monthly costs vary from $24.95–$59.95 for Bay Alarm Medical medical alert systems, depending on the system, whether you bundle, and whether you include fall detection (not available for the SOS Smartwatch).
  • Bay Alarm Medical has one at-home device, one on-the-go device, and one smartwatch, all with 24/7 monitoring.
  • The company offers a 30-day risk-free trial and doesn’t require long-term contracts.

Bay Alarm Medical is one of our Reviews Team’s picks for the top medical alert systems on the market. It’s an established home security company with above average customer reviews and affordable rates. 

But how does the company compare to other medical alert security companies? Is Bay Alarm Medical better than LifeStation? To help alleviate some of the stress of researching medical alert systems and deciding which one will be best for you or your loved one, in this review we’ll dig into some of the specific services and features Bay Alarm Medical offers. 

Read more to discover the pros and cons of Bay Alarm Medical services and customer support options, compare the different medical alert systems’ costs and features, and decide whether accessories and added services are worth the cost.

Why you can trust our Reviews Team’s expert review

2.5K
Hours of Research
1
Surveys Deployed
13
Brands Tested
9
Experts Consulted

Our Reviews Team spent more than 2,500 hours conducting in-depth research on medical alert systems. During our process, we:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Consulted with licensed adult caregivers and doctors who specialize in senior care
  • Mystery shopped 13 medical alert system brands
  • Surveyed 1,000 medical alert system users
  • Tested various medical alert systems
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties, such as Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot

Read more about our medical alert systems review methodology.

Why Bay Alarm Medical is one of our Reviews Team’s top picks

Our Reviews Team chose to review Bay Alarm Medical after we named the company “Best for the Price” in our 12 best medical alert systems review. Bay Alarm Medical users who responded to our Reviews Team’s survey identified price (13%) as the third most important factor in a medical alert system, right behind “fast response time” (18%) and “ease of set up and use” (17%).

When our Reviews Team tested Bay Alarm Medical devices, the company earned 4.5 out of 5 stars for its fast response time (1–15 seconds, compared to the industry average of 30), variety of device choices (smartwatch, wristband, and necklace), and its low starting monthly fee ($25).

We also chose Bay Alarm Medical for our best medical alert systems with fall detection, where it won “Best for Battery Life,” and for our best medical alert systems with GPS, where we selected it for “Best Affordable Medical Alert System with GPS.”

Bay Alarm Medical offers fall detection, a mobile app for caregivers and loved ones, and GPS location tracking, which were also the top three special features selected by our survey respondents (40.09% combined). By the end of this review, we hope you’ll have all the information you need to help you decide whether Bay Alarm Medical has the features you’re looking for.

Pros and cons of Bay Alarm Medical

Pros 30-day, risk-free trial No long-term contracts GPS location tracking for no additional cost Supports more than 170 non-English languages Fall detection option for SOS Home and SOS Mobile ($10 per month) Bella Charms accessories to make buttons look like jewelry
Cons One-time equipment fee required for some systems ($0–$159) Warranty costs extra
($1.95–$4.95 per month)

Table 1 Comparisons of Bay Alarm Medical systems, as of September 2022

Bay Alarm Medical system

SOS Home

SOS Mobile

SOS Smartwatch

Starting monthly fee

$24.95–$29.95,
depending on
connection type

$29.95

$34.95

One-time equipment fee

$0

$99

$159

Device type

At-home

On-the-go

On-the-go

Device range (feet)

1,000

Unlimited

Unlimited

Connection type

Landline or cellular
(AT&T or Verizon)

Cellular
(AT&T or Verizon)

Cellular
(AT&T or Verizon)

Battery life (hours)

32 (base unit);

5 years (call button)

72 (call button)

6–18

Location tracking

No

Yes

Yes

Wearable device option

Yes

Yes

Yes

Waterproof

Yes

No, water-resistant

No, water-resistant

SOS Home review

Bay Alarm Medical In Home

SOS Home

  • Monthly fee: $24.95 (landline) or $29.95 (cellular)
  • Device type: At-home
  • Device range: 1,000 feet
  • Device dimensions: 1.38 x 1.38 x .59 inches (length x width x height)
  • Device weight: 1.5 ounces
  • Connection type: Landline or cellular
  • Battery life: 32 hours for base unit, 5 years for call button
Pros Waterproof wall buttons ($5 for two, $10 for four) Battery for call button lasts 5 years Includes two-way communication Optional fall detection button for $10 per month
Cons No GPS location tracking No app or caregiver monitoring

The SOS Home from Bay Alarm Medical connects to Bay Alarm monitoring centers via landline or cellular networks. Landline connection is the least expensive option the company offers and may also be a better choice if you don’t have strong cell coverage in your area (enter your address into the AT&T coverage map or the Verizon coverage map to ensure your area has coverage).

What’s included

Both the landline and cellular systems come with the standard base unit (the part plugged into the wall, syncs with your wearable button, and calls the monitoring center when you press the help button) and a wearable help button, which is waterproof for users to take into the shower or bath area—one of the three most common areas where falls occur in the home (in addition to the stairs and bedroom, according to research from 2020).1

The SOS Home system includes both a wristband and a lanyard, so you can wear your button around your wrist or as a necklace. At no extra cost, you can choose the color you want for the standard button: black or white. 

Bella Charms

For those hesitant about the look of a medical alert necklace, you can purchase a Bella Charm that clips onto your device to make it look like jewelry ($25 each or $90 for a set of four). Improving the look of a medical alert device was important to our Reviews Team’s survey respondents—”it doesn’t look appealing” was the third biggest challenge respondents cited with their medical alert devices, behind only “not having enough special features” and “not knowing how to use all the features.” If you choose to purchase the larger fall detection button, available for an additional $10 per month, it only comes in white, and it cannot be dressed up with a Bella Charm.

SOS Home packages

Bay Alarm Medical offers the following three SOS Home packages

  • In-Home Basic (landline) for $24.95 per month
  • In-Home Preferred (cellular) for $29.95
  • In-Home Premium (cellular plus four wall buttons) for $39.95 per month 

The optional wall buttons connect to the base unit, allowing you to press the buttons and call for help from rooms throughout your home. You can place the extra wall buttons in areas where the risk of falls is high, like bathrooms and stairways.

The SOS Home is a good option if you spend most of your time at home and are looking for a less expensive system. If you find yourself on-the-go more, you might want to consider the Bay Alarm Medical SOS Mobile or SOS Smartwatch options.

SOS Mobile review

Bay Alarm Medical SOS Mobile

SOS Mobile

  • Monthly fee: $29.95 ($39.95 with fall detection)
  • Device type: On-the-go
  • Device range: Unlimited
  • Device dimensions: 2.87” L x 1.85” W x .73” H
  • Device weight: 1.8 ounces
  • Connection type: Cellular (AT&T or Verizon)
  • Battery life: 72 hours
Pros Connects to Caregiver Tracking app Battery lasts 72 hours Location tracking available
Cons Not meant for in-home use Water resistant, but not waterproof

The Bay Alarm Medical SOS Mobile system has GPS location tracking and two-way communication so monitoring center staff can contact you for details, pinpoint your location, and get help to you quickly. 

What’s included

The SOS Mobile system includes a belt clip and a lanyard so you can clip your device to your belt, pocket, or purse, or wear it as a necklace. Unlike the at-home wearable button, which can be taken into a bath or swimming pool, the mobile system should not be submerged in water. The on-the-go system is water resistant, not waterproof like the at-home system. The company says if the mobile device is exposed to water, it should be dried with a towel.

The on-the-go mobile system battery lasts 72 hours, more than twice as long as the at-home base unit. It takes 2–3 hours to fully charge the mobile device. 

Similar to the at-home cellular option, users connect SOS Mobile through a cell phone provider (AT&T or Verizon). This service is included in the monthly cost of a Bay Alarm Medical system, so you will not receive separate bills from a cellular service provider.

Caregiver Tracking app

The SOS Mobile also allows caregivers and loved ones to check in on users in real time. Caregivers can download the Caregiver Tracking app onto an iOS or Android device, which allows them to track the medical alert system user’s location and activity history, as well as monitor the weather in the user’s area and check the medical alert’s battery status.

By registering in the app, caregivers can sign up to receive alerts when the user pushes the help button. The app even allows caregivers to receive an alert when the user leaves a certain predefined geographical area (like their home or neighborhood).

If you’re on-the-go and looking for a device with a battery that lasts three days, the SOS Mobile could be a good choice for you. If you’re looking for a more modern medical alert style, like a medical alert smartwatch with unlimited device range, you might want to consider the Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch.

SOS Smartwatch review

Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch

SOS Smartwatch

  • Monthly fee: $34.95
  • Device type: On-the-go
  • Device range: Unlimited
  • Device dimensions: 1.25-inch-diameter screen size, 1.75-inch high case, 2 inches from lug to lug (points where the watch case connects with the wristband)
  • Device weight: Less than 2 ounces
  • Connection type: Cellular (AT&T or Verizon)
  • Battery life: 6–18 hours
Pros Unlimited device range in the United States GPS location tracking Lightweight
Cons No caregiver alerts No fall detection Short battery life (6–18 hours)

The water-resistant SOS Smartwatch weighs less than two ounces and is connected through a cellular network (either AT&T or Verizon). Although the battery doesn’t last as long as the SOS Mobile (6–18 hours versus 72 hours), like the SOS Mobile, the SOS Smartwatch has GPS tracking with an unlimited device range, giving monitoring center staff the ability to find you and send help no matter where you are. But the SOS Smartwatch has several special features the SOS Mobile doesn’t, such as a step tracker, touch screen, and a network connection signal.

What’s included

The watch comes with a charging station and wristband, which is available in two sizes: standard (to fit wrists up to 7 inches around) and large (to fit wrists up to 8 inches around).

The SOS Smartwatch has built-in GPS and two-way communication. In the event you need help and press the SOS button on the side of the watch, monitoring center staff will pinpoint your location for emergency services and talk to you through the two-way speaker until help has arrived. A perk of this system: you don’t need to have a smartphone or base unit to use this device. A drawback: it doesn’t have an option for fall detection.

Special features

For special features, the Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch has a step-counter for tracking activity and goals, a touch screen, and options for either analog or digital clock faces, for whichever style you prefer reading.

If you prefer simplicity and aren’t concerned with having a lot of unnecessary features, this medical alert system smartwatch may be a good choice for you. But if you’re looking for a watch with more special features, other medical alert watches might be a better fit, like the Apple Watch, which has ECG (a recording of the heart’s electrical activity), blood oxygen, and health tracking, or the UnaliWear Kanega Watch, which has medication reminders.

How much does a Bay Alarm Medical system cost?

Bay Alarm Medical alert systems range from $24.95–$59.95 per month, depending on the system you choose, whether you bundle systems, and whether you want fall detection. You have the option to select monthly, quarterly, or annual payment plans. See the table below for more details.

Table 2 Bay Alarm Medical plans and prices, as of September 2022

Bay Alarm Medical system

SOS Home Basic (landline)

SOS Home Preferred (cellular)

SOS Mobile Lite

SOS Mobile Plus

SOS Smartwatch

Monthly cost*

$24.95–$34.95

$29.95–$39.95

$29.95

$39.95

$34.95

Quarterly cost*

$74.85–$104.85

$89.85–$119.85

$89.85

$119.85

$104.85

Annual cost*

$299.40–$419.40

$359.40–$479.40

$359.40

$479.40

$419.40

Annual cost for bundled deals**

Not applicable

$479.40–$599.40

$599.40

$719.40

$599.40–$719.40

Equipment fee

$0

$0

$99

$99

$159

Activation fee

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

*The higher cost includes fall detection for $10 per month.
**The higher cost on the bundled deals is for fall detection for the SOS Home buttons. The SOS Mobile and SOS Smartwatch do not have fall detection.

Does Medicare cover Bay Alarm Medical systems? 

Original Medicare doesn’t cover medical alert systems, but if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C), you may qualify for support, depending on your specific plan. Check with your insurance provider to determine if you’re covered.

Warranty and ways to save on Bay Alarm Medical systems

Bay Alarm Medical offers different types of optional warranties, depending on the system you purchase. 

  • SOS Home: $2.95 per month for the extended in-home warranty. Includes lifetime battery replacement, one base system replacement per contractual year, and 50% off accessory replacements.
  • SOS Mobile: $1.95 per month for both GPS Mobile Lite & Plus options. Includes one free device replacement per contractual year and 50% off accessory replacements. Or $4.95 per month for the Mobile 360° bundle, which covers the Mobile warranty plus the in-home warranty.
  • SOS Smartwatch: $2.95 per month. Includes one free smartwatch replacement per contractual year and 50% off accessory replacements. Or $4.95 per month for the Home + SOS Smartwatch bundle, which covers the Smartwatch warranty plus the in-home warranty.

You can save money on medical alert systems in a few ways.

  • Check your local area agency on aging to see what support is available.2
  • If you are a veteran, reach out to your local VA medical center to determine your VA health benefits.3
  • Visit NCOA’s Benefits CheckUp to learn more about more benefits in your area.
  • Use your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) funds to cover the costs associated with medical alert systems.

Paul Sundin, tax strategist, personal finance expert, certified public accountant (CPA), and CEO of Emparion retirement services, suggested that you can also save money on medical alert systems if you itemize the expenses on your federal tax return. “In terms of eligibility, medical alert systems may qualify as a medical expense as long as it falls under one of these two categories: A) it’s a piece of medically necessary equipment prescribed by a doctor, and B) it’s a piece of special equipment for the purposes of medical care in your home,” said Sundin.

Logan Allec, CPA and owner of Choice Tax Relief, explained taxpayers should have no problem using their HSAs and FSAs to cover the cost of medical alert systems. He referenced IRS Publication 502, noting “special equipment installed in a home, or for improvements, if their main purpose is medical care for you, your spouse, or your dependent” would qualify for the medical expense deduction.4

Sundin recommended consulting with your tax preparer to determine whether you can claim a medical alert system as a deduction. “Depending on what they say, you may need a prescription from a doctor in order to meet the [IRS] eligibility requirements.”

Payment methods

Bay Alarm Medical accepts payments in the form of credit or debit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, JCB, and Diners Club.

The Bay Alarm Medical app and accessories

Bay Alarm Medical offers several accessories (see Table 3) as well as a Caregiver Tracking app, which allows caregivers to track a medical alert system user’s location, activity history, battery status, and local weather.

Table 3 Add-on accessories for Bay Alarm Medical, as of September 2022

Accessory

Purpose

Cost

Extra wall buttons

To place in high-risk areas such as bathrooms and at the bottom of stairs

$5–$10 per month

Additional wrist/lanyard button

To give one to a spouse or someone who lives with you, or for use as a backup in high-risk fall areas

$39

Additional fall detection buttons

Only available for SOS Home, and recommended for those who have frequent loss of consciousness or history of fainting

$15

Bella Charms

To disguise standard emergency help buttons as jewelry

$25–$90

Lockbox

For emergency services to access house keys and avoid damaging doors or windows into your home

$30

Vial of life

A form with your emergency medical information that paramedics can refer to during an emergency

$8

Bay Alarm Medical customer service and satisfaction

You can contact Bay Alarm Medical three ways:

  • Phone: 877-522-9633, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m PT
  • Email: cs@bayalarmmedical.com
  • Chat: In the lower-right corner of the Bay Alarm Medical website, you can message online support, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 pm PT, and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT. You’ll need to fill out a form with your name, email address, and phone number.

On the website, the company also has an FAQ page and helpful videos and help guides on how to use Bay Alarm Medical medical alert systems.

When our Reviews Team contacted Bay Alarm Medical via the chat for this review and via the phone for our Bay Alarm Medical vs. Lifestation reviews article, customer support was informative and friendly, without high-pressure sales tactics.

Table 4 Comparisons of Bay Alarm Medical vs. other companies, as of September 2022

Companies

Bay Alarm Medical

Medical Alert

Medical Guardian

Life Alert

Lively

MobileHelp

Starting monthly cost

$25

$20

$30

$50

$25

$20

Device range for at-home system (feet)

1,000

800

1,300–1,400

800

No at-home system

600–1,400

Connection type

Landline or cellular

Landline or cellular

Landline or cellular

Landline or cellular

Cellular

Landline or cellular

Fall detection

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Battery life (depending on the system)

6–72 hours

30 hours–5 days

32 hours–5 days

10 years

80 hours–4 months

24 hours–5 years

Response time (seconds)

1–15

15–25

1–15

N/A

N/A

1–15

Location tracking

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Water-resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Warranty

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Bay Alarm Medical customer reviews

Bay Alarm Medical has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), with 4.24 out of 5 stars, based on 141 customer reviews.5 The company also has a “great” rating on Trustpilot, with 4.1 out of 5 stars, based on 938 reviews.6

Rep was very helpful and explained exactly what was coming in the mail. He also included a form that I had requested earlier which had failed to arrive. I have used Bay Alarm for years now, and it has come in VERY HANDY multiple times, as I fall a lot. They have always called, and sent out EMS when necessary, and have always been dependable and nice. I wouldn’t think of changing!

—MIRIAM L, VERIFIED CUSTOMER REVIEW (BBB.COM)

So far they have been very responsive. No emergencies, just a couple of equipment tests and one call resulting from putting the device down too hard and pressing the button in error. The response was fast and very professional. Needed a little help setting the equipment up but the support people walked us through it and even called back when the call was dropped by mistake.

—PAT, VERIFIED CUSTOMER (TRUSTPILOT.COM)

“Got a ‘low battery’ notification, which is a great tool. My mother is using the equipment, so this is a great way for me to monitor the status of the battery from miles away. When she initially called, she was told her necklace needed replacing as it was a low battery. We have only had the service for 9 months and I was told it would last 2–3 years. I called back and the next person retested all the equipment remotely with the help of my mother. We were told that all the equipment was fine. The low battery signal may have been triggered due to a power failure. So we got two different results from seemingly the same test, which is concerning.”

—MICHELE, VERIFIED CUSTOMER REVIEW (BBB.COM)

Will Bay Alarm Medical help prevent falls?

Bay Alarm Medical does not guarantee the prevention of all falls. Even though the company offers fall detection on its devices for $10 per month, fall detection doesn’t detect 100% of falls. For example, when someone falls from standing (fast) versus falling from a bed or chair (slow), slow falls are not detected as reliably as fast falls.

Falls prevention is important for older adults and their caregivers. Learn more about what you can do to prevent injuries from falls with our 6 steps to help prevent falls article. You can also check your risk of falling with our free Falls CheckUp tool, or consult with your health care provider or allied professional (physical or occupational therapist) that specializes in older adult care or falls prevention.

Bottom line

Buying a medical alert system can be hard, from learning how medical alert systems work to researching which medical alert system company and model will be best for you. In this article, our Reviews Team talked about the pros, cons, and details related to three medical alert systems offered by Bay Alarm Medical: SOS Home, SOS Mobile, and SOS Smartwatch.

The company has an easy-to-navigate website, friendly customer support, fast response time, variety of device choices, and a lower cost compared to other medical alert system companies. Bay Alarm Medical may be the right choice if you’re looking for no activation fees, at-home and on-the-go bundled deals, and fall detection. If you want a free warranty, Bay Alarm Medical might not be a good option for you.

Frequently asked questions

Have questions about this review? Email us at reviewsteam@ncoa.org.

Sources

  1. Moreland M, et al. A Descriptive Analysis of Location of Older Adult Falls That Resulted in Emergency Department Visits in the United States, 2015. Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8669898/
  2. Eldercare Locator. Area agencies on aging. Found on the internet at https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/About/Aging_Network/AAA.aspx
  3. VA.gov. About VA health benefits. Found on the internet at https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/
  4. Internal Revenue Service. Publication 502 (2021). Found on the internet at https://www.irs.gov/publications/p502
  5. Better Business Bureau. Bay Alarm Medical customer reviews and complaints. Found on the internet at https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/concord/profile/medical-alarm/bay-alarm-medical-1116-310903
  6. Trustpilot. Bay Alarm Medical reviews. Found on the internet at https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.bayalarmmedical.com

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