How Can I Get a Medical Alert System for Free?
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.
Approximately 30,000 seniors die from a fall-related death each year. Combine that staggering statistic with the anticipated shortage of registered nurses, and you might be wondering: How can seniors protect themselves from injuries that become fatal or require long-term medical care? While it’s not always possible to prevent falls, even with home modifications or lifestyle changes, seeking prompt medical care may help prevent lengthy hospital stays and long-term complications. That’s why many elderly adults trust the performance of medical alert systems.
The best medical alert systems provide constant monitoring day and night, so you always have convenient access to emergency care. Some medical alert systems have a handy help button that notifies loved ones or medical professionals, so you can quickly request assistance when you need it. Others rely on automatic fall detection alerts that let operators know when a senior may be injured, even if the subscriber is unresponsive or cannot reach the help button.
Unfortunately, medical alert systems often have ongoing subscription fees, plus installation, activation and shipping costs. These expenses can quickly put a strain on seniors’ budgets, so many elderly adults search for free monitoring devices. Finding a medical alert system at no cost isn’t easy, but it’s possible. We’ve compiled several options below to help you narrow down your search for a complimentary medical alert system.
Contact Your Health Insurance Company
Some insurance providers cover the cost of medical alert systems. Whether you qualify for a free device depends on numerous factors, including the type of coverage you have, your location and your income. Benefits might not be outlined in your subscriber portal or guide, so contact providers directly if you are unsure whether coverage is available.
Medicare typically doesn’t offer reimbursement or discounts for medical alert devices, so you may want to contact Medicaid first if you have dual coverage. We’ve included information about each of these health insurance programs below so you can decide how to proceed during your quest for medical alert system coverage.
Many elderly adults have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Medicare Part A primarily covers major care, such as assisted living expenses and hospitalization costs. Medicare Part B focuses on one-time expenses or short-term treatments, such as doctor’s visits, blood tests or imaging scans. Unfortunately, neither of these plans typically cover medical alert systems.
Here are some common questions you may have about Medicare coverage:
Does Medicare Part C cover medical alert systems?
Yes, you may have success getting reimbursement from Medicare Part C. Medicare Part C is a supplemental plan that helps cover the cost of medically necessary devices.
Does Medicare Advantage cover medical alert systems?
Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part C are the same thing. Medicare Advantage may cover the cost of medical alert systems if the insurance program deems them medically necessary.
What are some conditions that may qualify for a Medicare-funded alert system?
Medicare doesn’t have a list of specific conditions that may benefit from medical alert systems. Instead, the insurance program focuses on the needs of each individual applicant before deciding whether a device may benefit them. You might get approved for a device if you have dementia or plan to transition back to your home after receiving assisted living care at a facility.
Medicaid has several options for seniors seeking help paying for medical alert systems. You can apply for Medicaid assistance for medical alert devices even if you do not qualify for reimbursement from Medicare.
Here are some questions you may have as a Medicaid recipient:
Do all Medicaid plans offer coverage for medical alert systems?
Not all Medicaid plans cover the cost of medical alert systems. You may need to request a waiver from Medicaid if you want help covering medical alert system fees.
How do you request help for medical alert systems from Medicaid?
Contact your Medicaid provider by dialing the number on the back of your card. You can also call 2-1-1 if you need help locating a local agency that can answer questions about Medicaid programs.
Which Medicaid waivers or programs may cover medical alert systems?
Medicaid waivers and programs vary across the nation, but here are some that may help cover the cost of medical alert systems:
- Money Follows the Person
- Home and Community Based Services
- Personal Care Attendant program
How does Medicaid classify medical alert systems?
Medicaid classifies medical alert systems as Personal Emergency Response Services (PERS). Medicaid covers the costs of PERS for qualifying subscribers because it helps them age at home rather than at a facility.
Explore Benefits for Veterans
Elderly veterans may qualify for a complimentary medical alert system from one of two providers. Approved devices have limited features when compared to other well-known medical alert system providers, but you may still find it beneficial to have one.
Here are some common questions about benefits for veterans:
Does the VA pay for medical alert devices?
The Department of Veterans Affairs covers the cost of a medical alert system from an approved provider. Currently, the VA pays for a qualifying senior’s preferred device from one of two companies.
Does TRICARE cover medical alert devices?
TRICARE may cover the cost of a medical alert device for retired military professionals and their spouses, but coverage isn’t guaranteed.
Which companies provide medical alert systems for veterans?
Speak With Senior Assistance Agencies
Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) provides assistance for seniors across the nation. Reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging for help receiving a free medical alert system. The agency can connect you with other agencies or inform you about grants and scholarships for seniors.
What services does the AAA offer?
The AAA offers services such as meal delivery, transportation services and homemaker assistance with the goal of helping elderly adults remain independent.
Who qualifies for AAA services?
Requirements vary by location. Contact your local AAA for more information about eligibility and programs.
Does the AAA recommend a specific medical alert system?
The AAA does not recommend a specific device or company for medical alert services.
Contact Medical Alert Providers
Many medical alert providers understand the budget restraints of elderly subscribers, so they partner with programs and organizations that offer discounts. You can learn more about these programs by contacting your preferred medical alert provider directly.
However, keep in mind that a free device may still have other fees. You may still have to pay for a monthly subscription, shipping, installation, activation or cancellation. Learn about all of these potential expenses before you accept a free device from a medical alert provider.
The right medical alert system can save your life, but high fees may deter you from getting the monitoring services that you need. Consider the suggestions above before you abandon your search for a medical alert system, as many companies connect seniors with free or reduced-price options.