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Medical Alert Review: Prices and Features of Every Model

Sep 27, 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

Key Takeaways

  • Monthly costs for Medical Alert systems, a personal emergency response product, vary from $22.95–$42.95.
  • Medical Alert has two at-home devices and one on-the-go device, all with 24/7 monitoring.
  • The company offers a 30-day risk-free trial, no equipment fees, and no long-term contracts.

Our Reviews Team tested personal emergency response products developed by Medical Alert to help you decide whether it’s the right choice for your medical alert system needs. Their testing uncovered benefits including unique fall detection options and a fast response time of 15–25 seconds, but it also has some drawbacks. 

Keep reading to discover Medical Alert customer reviews, the pros and cons to keep in mind, and how to find the best medical alert system for you.

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 Medical Alert is one of our Reviews Team’s top picks

Our Reviews Team chose Medical Alert as one of the top medical alert or personal emergency response systems for its all-in-one technology, fast response time, and longtime presence in the home safety market. 

In our best medical alert systems review, we named Medical Alert “Best All-in-One Device.” The all-in-one technology of the Medical Alert wearable help button gives you access to all of the necessary functions, like fall detection and emergency help at the press of a button, without having to wear an additional necklace like some other medical alert systems with fall detection.

Medical Alert was founded in 2004 by Connect America, which has a solid reputation of assisting older adults in living independently for 45 years. In our Reviews Team’s survey, a majority of users (71%) reported they had a good experience with their Medical Alert purchase, 22% of users said they were mostly satisfied, and only 6% said they had a poor experience.

If Medical Alert doesn’t have a system that fits your needs, other medical alert brands may have one that is better for you, including Bay Alarm Medical, which our Reviews Team selected “Best for the Price,” or HandsFree Health, chosen as “Best Technologically Advanced System.” To learn more, check out our Bay Alarm review.

Pros and cons of Medical Alert

Pros 30-day, risk-free trial No equipment fees or long-term contracts Fall detection option for $10 per month
Cons Activation fee for $49 on some systems Limited add-on options, and only one on-the-go system No warranty, and protection plan costs extra

Table 1 Comparisons of Medical Alert systems, as of September 2022

Medical alert type

Home system

Mobile system

Starting monthly fee

$19.95–$29.95,
depending on connection type

$39.95

Device type

At-home

On-the-go

Device range (feet)

800

Unlimited

Connection type

Landline or cellular (AT&T)

Cellular (AT&T)

Battery life

30 hours

5 days

Location tracking

No

Yes

Wearable device option

Yes

Yes

Medical Alert reviews

Medical Alert Home medical alert system

Home system

  • Monthly fee: $19.95–$29.95
  • Device type: At-home
  • Device range: 800 feet
  • Device dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 2.7 inches (length x width x height)
  • Device weight: 0.9 ounces
  • Connection type: Landline or cellular (AT&T)
  • Battery life: 30 hours
  • Location tracking: No
  • Voice activation: Yes
  • Water-resistant: Yes
  • Caregiver alerts: Yes
Pros Includes button necklace or bracelet Backup battery power of 30 hours
Cons Limited device range of 800 feet No medication reminders

The Medical Alert home system is offered in two versions: cellular and landline connection. The landline connection is the company’s least expensive option and can be used without a cellphone or strong cellular connection. The help buttons are waterproof, so users can wear them in the shower or bath. Research shows the most common locations for a fall at home are, in order, bedrooms, bathrooms, and stairs.1

Unlike the mobile system described below, which has a five-day battery life, the backup battery life for the home system is 30 hours. But as long as your home system is plugged into an outlet, the backup battery won’t be an issue. The backup battery is designed to work in the event of a power outage.

The home system device range is 800 feet (a bit more than the length of two football fields), whereas the mobile system has an unlimited range. Additionally, other medical alert companies, such as Medical Guardian and Lifefone, have longer ranges of 1,300–1,400 feet for their home devices. Since the Medical Alert home system device range is limited, it means you’ll have to stick closer to home to ensure your device will still work.

If you’re searching for an at-home device with a longer range and more add-ons, such as medication reminders, it might be better to go with MobileHelp or Bay Alarm Medical. The medication reminders feature is not included in Medical Alert products and can be a valuable asset to maintaining a healthy life. 

Medical Alert Mobile medical alert system

Mobile system

  • Monthly fee: $39.95
  • Device type: On-the-go
  • Device range: Unlimited
  • Device dimensions: 2” L x 1.5” W x .75” H
  • Device weight: 1.3 ounces
  • Connection type: Cellular (AT&T)
  • Battery life: 5 days (rechargeable)
  • Location tracking: Yes
  • Voice activation: Yes
  • Water-resistant: Yes
  • Caregiver alerts: Yes
Pros Unlimited device range in the United States Five-day battery life
Cons No activity monitoring No smartwatch-device option

The Medical Alert mobile system is different from the home system. With GPS location tracking and an unlimited device range, the Medical Alert on-the-go system can give medical alert system users, their caregivers, and their loved ones more confidence to go out into the world, knowing they’ll have 24/7 access to emergency help in the United States.

The mobile device battery lasts for five days, nearly four times longer than the home system. Medical Alert home systems also come with a backup battery. Having a long-lasting rechargeable battery can save time and provide reassurance when you’re away from home.

If you’re looking for a smartwatch option with Bluetooth, fitness tracking, or other features, the Medical Alert mobile system might not be the best option for you. Other companies, such as Bay Alarm Medical and HandsFree Health, offer some of the top medical alert watches, selected by our Reviews Team.

How much does a Medical Alert system cost?

The starting monthly cost for a Medical Alert system ranges from $19.95–$39.95, depending on which system and payment plan you choose. You can pay month to month, or you can receive a discounted rate if you pay semi-annually (every six months), or annually.

Medical Alert payment plans

  • The home system (landline) is $22.95 per month, or $19.95 annually (one payment of $239.40). 
  • The home system (cellular) is $32.95 per month, or $29.95 annually (one payment of $359.40). 
  • The mobile system is $42.95 per month, or $39.95 annually (one payment of $479.40).

How to save money on medical alert systems

You can potentially save money on medical alert systems using several different strategies. James Holland, certified financial planner and founder of Life Part 2, a retirement planning service, shared a few tips for saving money on a medical alert system: “Take advantage of discounts or promotions that are available. You can also look into monthly subscription plans rather than paying for the system upfront.”

Keep reading for more tips.

Local aid organizations

To save money on medical alert systems, you may be eligible for assistance from community-based organizations, or from state or local agencies. Search for your local area agency on aging to find out how they can connect you to support.2 

Medicare

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

Veteran benefits

If you’re a veteran, you can also reach out to your medical provider to determine whether your VA health benefits will cover low or no-cost medical alert options.3

Finally, visit NCOA’s Benefits CheckUp to learn more about the benefits available in your area. 

FSA/HSA funds

Holland also encourages people to use FSA/HSA (flexible or health savings account) funds to purchase a medical alert system.

Louise Norris, a licensed insurance broker and analyst for healthinsurance.org, pointed out that, while FSA and HSA funds can be used to pay for a medical alert system, FSA funds expire, while HSA funds do not. “If a medical alert system is necessary, it can be a good way to use up FSA funds that would otherwise expire,” she said. 

And because HSA funds never expire, “a medical alert system, including the ongoing monthly service fee, can be a good way to spend remaining HSA funds,” Norris said.

Norris ended with this important note: “In any case, FSA and HSA funds can only be used to pay for medical expenses for the account holder, their spouse, and their tax dependents. So you probably can’t use your HSA funds to pay for a medical alert system for your elderly parents, as they would rarely be considered your tax dependents.”

How to pay for Medical Alert systems

To purchase a medical alert system from Medical Alert, visit the company’s website and select the system you’d like to buy. You can choose from monthly, semi-annual, or annual payment plans. You’ll also have the option to add fall detection for $10 per month, and a protection plan for $1 per month, either of which you can decline or add to your cart. Depending on how quickly you need your medical alert system, you can choose standard ground shipping, or one-day shipping for an additional cost. 

Medical Alert accepts payments from all major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.

Medical Alert warranty

Medical Alert does not include a warranty, a standard that is similar to many other companies, such as Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm Medical, but you do have the option of including a protection plan with your subscription.

The Medical Alert protection plan costs $5 per month and covers $350 in the event your system is lost, stolen, or damaged. The coverage amount of $350 covers the annual cost of most Medical Alert systems.

If having a medical alert system warranty is important to you, check out LifeFone, which our Reviews Team chose for its “Best Customer-Friendly Policies” in our best medical alert systems review. LifeFone offers a lifetime warranty for manufacturer defects.

Table 2 Medical Alert costs and fees, as of September 2022

Medical alert type

Home system (landline)

Home system (cellular)

Mobile system

Monthly cost

$22.95 ($275.40 annually)

$32.95 ($395.40 annually)

$42.95 ($515.40 annually)

Annual cost

$19.95 per month ($239.40 annually)

$29.95 per month ($359.40 annually)

$39.95 per month ($479.40 annually)

Equipment fee

$0

$0

$0

Activation fee

$0

$49

$49

The Medical Alert app and accessories

The Medical Alert smartphone app allows users to contact customer support, test their systems, check battery status, and update their emergency contact list. The app also gives caregivers the ability to check in and monitor multiple accounts.

Fall detection

For an additional $10 per month, you can add fall detection to your subscription. Medical Alert fall detection devices have built-in sensors that detect when the user falls or moves rapidly from standing to a horizontal position. If the device detects a fall, a trained Medical Alert specialist will contact you to assess the situation and call for emergency assistance as needed, whether that is notifying your caregivers or emergency services. If the specialist is unable to make contact with you, emergency services will be called immediately. To learn more about fall detection and other medical alert devices that offer this feature, read our review of the best medical alert systems with fall detection.

Protection plan

For $5 per month, Medical Alert users can add a protection plan, which covers $350 in the event your system is lost, stolen, or damaged, and covers the annual cost of most Medical Alert systems. With your subscription, you will also be eligible for discounts on accessories, such as a lockbox.

Lockboxes

Lockboxes are weatherproof containers that hang from your front exterior doorknob to provide emergency responders access to a house key so they can enter your home without damaging your doors or windows. Lockboxes cost $10 per month and your medical alert specialist will only share your lockbox code with emergency services in the event of an emergency.

Medical Alert customer service

You can contact the Medical Alert customer service team by phone at 800-906-0872, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m ET, or through the contact form on the Medical Alert website. 

Our Reviews Team used the contact form on the Medical Alert website and received a satisfactory response to their question within one hour when comparing Medical Guardian vs. Medical Alert.

To learn more about Medical Alert at-home systems, on-the-go devices, and accessories, visit the Product Guides section on the company website.

Table 3 Comparisons of Medical Alert vs. other companies

Companies

Medical Alert

Medical Guardian

Bay Alarm Medical

Life Alert

Lively

MobileHelp

Starting monthly cost

$23

$30

$20

$50

$25

$20

At-home device range (feet)

800

1,300–1,400

1,000

800

N/A

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

30 hours–5 days

32 hours–5 days

6–32 hours

10 years

80 hours–4 months

24 hours–5 years

Response time

15–25 seconds

1–15 seconds

1–15 seconds

N/A

N/A

1–15 seconds

Location tracking

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Water-resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Warranty

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Medical Alert customer reviews

Medical Alert is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)4 but its parent company, Connect America, has an A+ BBB rating and 1.1 out of 5 stars, based on 19 customer reviews.5 

On Trustpilot, Medical Alert has 2.8 out of 5 stars, based on three customer reviews.6

Many of the customer complaints from BBB and Trustpilot express frustration around returning the medical alert system equipment to cancel their service.

It is a comfort to have a Medical Alert in my home. I live alone, and have used the system at least 3 times. The personnel are understanding and courteous. I definitely recommend the system to people in my circumstances.

—JENNIFER, VERIFIED CUSTOMER REVIEW (MEDICALALERT.COM)

I woke up during the night and my heart was racing. I pushed my Medical Alert button, and told her my problem. The EMS showed up, took me to the hospital, where I was diagnosed with a heart problem. I was so glad it was that easy, as I was terrified by what was happening. I had never had that before. Thank you, Medical Alert.

—SANDRA, VERIFIED CUSTOMER (MEDICALALERT.COM)

“I fell recently in my home while wearing the medical alert device around my neck. The alarm did not activate, although I was told any sudden fall would set it off.”

—MARIANNE, VERIFIED CUSTOMER REVIEW (MEDICALALERT.COM)

Will Medical Alert help prevent falls?

Medical Alert does not guarantee the prevention of all falls. But for $10 per month, the company does offer fall detection, where the medical alert system detects a fall and automatically notifies monitoring center specialists, who will then notify emergency services for you.

Fall detection is mainly limited to devices worn around the neck at chest level, since the most accurate way to detect falls is from an upright position, far enough from the floor to detect rapid movement, according to research.7

Is Medical Alert fall detection accurate?

Keep in mind fall detection does not detect 100% of falls. For example, falling from a height, such as a standing position, versus falling from a bed or chair will affect the sensor differently due to the difference in the velocity, or speed, of the fall. Slower falls are not always detected by the fall detection sensor.

Our Reviews Team independently tested Medical Alert’s fall detection with multiple test falls and found it to be successful. The company reached out immediately to verify whether the user needed assistance. 

Importance of falls prevention

According to our Reviews Team survey, users said the most important feature in a medical alert system was automatic fall detection. This is crucial protection for the more than one out of four people 65 and older that fall each year.8

Preventing falls is important for older adults and their caregivers. The CDC states that “falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries among older adults” and “each year, at least 25,000 older adults die as a result of falls.”9 Falls prevention can help older adults maintain their health and independence.

Many factors play into falls prevention, including finding a good balance and exercise program, and talking to your health care provider about medications that can affect your stability. Please read our 6 steps to help prevent falls article for more tips on falls prevention. NCOA also offers a Falls Free CheckUp so you can assess your risk of falling.

Bottom line

Medical Alert is a good medical alert system company with three system options, transparent pricing, no long-term contracts, and a risk-free trial.

Medical Alert may be the right choice for you if:

  • You want an all-in-one, simplified medical alert system
  • You’re budget-conscious and looking for a medical alert system with no equipment fees

Medical Alert may not be the right choice for you if:

  • You want an at-home system with a longer device range than 800 feet
  • You’re looking for a smart on-the-go device or activity monitoring

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. Area Agencies on Aging. Area Agencies on Aging. Found on the internet at https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/About/Aging_Network/AAA.aspx
  3. VA.gov. VA health benefits. Found on the internet at https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/
  4. Better Business Bureau. Medical Alert LLC. Found on the internet at https://www.bbb.org/us/az/glendale/profile/medical-alert-systems/medical-alert-llc-1126-1000034499/customer-reviews
  5. Better Business Bureau. Connect America. Found on the internet at https://www.bbb.org/us/pa/broomall/profile/medical-alarm/connect-america-0241-190018059
  6. Trustpilot. Medical Alert. Found on the internet at https://www.trustpilot.com/review/medicalalert.com?stars=2
  7. Gjoreski M, et al. How Accurately Can Your Wrist Device Recognize Daily Activities and Detect Falls? Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934226
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts About Falls. Found on the internet at https://www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing Falls: A Guide to Implementing Effective Community-Based Fall Prevention Programs. Found on the internet at https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/pdf/falls/fallpreventionguide-2015-a.pdf

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