Does VA Pay for Medical Alert Systems?
COVID-19 Update: Since the medical alert industry is considered to be “essential” during the COVID crisis, monitoring and customer service centers are still open and ready to help. To learn more about how a medical alert device can help keep you or your elderly loved one safe and connected during this pandemic, take a look at our list of essential products for seniors during COVID-19.
For many of the 18.8 million veterans living throughout the United States — nearly half of whom are aged 65 and older — access to a medical alert system that could quickly notify help in an emergency is beneficial and life saving. As any individual reaches their later years, he or she becomes increasingly susceptible to falls and illness. For veterans who may have experienced previous injuries or illnesses affecting mobility, falls in and outside the home become an even greater risk.
Many senior veterans wonder if the Department of Veterans Affairs pays for medical alert systems, especially considering these systems are typically much more affordable than the support of a full-time caregiver or an assisted living home. Fortunately, veterans do have access to a couple of free medical alert systems through the VA.
Below, we discuss two medical alert systems paid for by the VA and how veterans can go about obtaining these potentially life-saving devices. Additionally, we highlight a few ways veterans may be able to obtain other low-priced or discounted medical alert systems that may offer devices with more comprehensive features, such as fall detection.
LiveLife Mobile Alarm’s VA-Funded Medical Alert System
By partnering with the VA, a company called LiveLife Personal Mobile Alarms provides eligible veterans with free mobile medical alert devices. This company’s lightweight and waterproof device includes a wearable pendant help button that can be programmed to text and call up to five designated personal contacts when pushed or when its fall-detection feature is activated.
Unfortunately, veterans should note that this device doesn’t provide connection to a certified, 24-hour emergency monitoring center, a valuable feature included with many other top-rated medical alert systems. However, seniors who use the device may opt to include 911 as one of their five designated contacts.
How it Works
When a user presses the device’s help button, it automatically sends a text message to all five of their preferred contacts, showing their exact GPS location on Google Maps. Once the texts are sent, the device calls the senior’s five contacts in the order they’ve specified. Whoever first answers the call is then able to communicate directly with the wearer through the device’s built-in, two-way speaker.
Additionally, the LiveLife Mobile Alarm device includes automatic fall detection. This feature, called Auto Fall Alert, can detect if a wearer suddenly falls down and immediately calls the user’s listed contacts. This way, if a senior veteran wearing the device experiences a fall and becomes unconscious, severely injured or too disoriented to manually press their help button, their contacts are notified and able to send help as quickly as possible.
How Can a Veteran Obtain This Device?
To obtain the LiveLife Mobile Alarm device for free, veterans must follow a designated procedure. First, they’ll visit their VA doctor, nurse or other VA medical provider to communicate their needs and ask for medical alert device approval. Veterans should communicate to their medical provider that they risk falling and would benefit specifically from a device with fall detection and GPS tracking.
The medical provider then needs to issue a written consult for a LiveLife Mobile Alarm device with automatic fall detection and send it to the VA’s Prosthetics department. From there, the VA sends LiveLife Mobile Alarms a purchase order and the company contacts the veteran to arrange for device programming and delivery.
MedEquip Alert’s VA-Funded Medical Alert System
Similar to its partnership with LiveLife Mobile Alarms, the VA also works with a company called MedEquip Alert. Unlike the LiveLife Mobile Alert device, however, MedEquip Alert’s device does include connection to a professional 24-hour monitoring center.
The device can be worn around the neck with a lanyard and includes a help button with a two-way speaker, so seniors can speak directly to a monitoring center operator at any time. These operators have the user’s personal information on file and are trained to assess the situation, provide verbal assistance through the device’s speakers and call the appropriate emergency personnel. Additionally, because this device is also equipped with GPS tracking technology, monitoring center operators can ensure emergency services find the senior quickly once dispatched.
Like the LiveLife Mobile Alert device, veterans can request MedEquip Alert’s device by scheduling a visit to request it from their VA medical provider. They can also let their medical provider know that the order number for this specific device is GSA# GS-35F-202GA.
Other Medical Alert Systems for Veterans
While the above free medical alert systems are certainly beneficial options for veterans, some individuals may opt to pay a small monthly rate to obtain a medical alert system with more comprehensive features. Depending on a veteran’s specific needs, the most optimal medical alert system may come with both fall detection and 24-hour monitoring and include at-home, wall-mounted help buttons or feature a caregiver app track, so loved ones can stay better informed of the user’s daily activities.
Veterans in search of these additional features should ask medical alert companies they’re considering about potential discounts. Some may have specific discounts for veterans, while others, such as Bay Alarm Medical, offer discounts to members of organizations, such as AARP and USAA. Medical Care Alert is another company that offers an affordable in-home system for low-income seniors.