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.

Over the last two decades, the number of fall-related deaths for elderly adults has nearly doubled. Home modifications help reduce the risk of falls, but seniors can also become injured while running errands or attending appointments. That’s why many elderly adults invest in a medical alert system that lets them quickly request assistance if an emergency occurs.

Medical alert systems help seniors get prompt medical attention, which can decrease their risk of long-term complications from injuries. Every second counts when a senior unexpectedly collapses due to a heart attack or stroke, and timely medical care can save a loved one’s life. A medical alert system provides one-button access to emergency support, and some devices even detect falls automatically.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find free medical alert devices, so you may end up spending anywhere from $15-$100 each month. The exact amount you pay depends on several factors, including the device you choose and the subscription plan you request. We’ve compiled detailed information to help you understand the costs of medical alert systems so you can make the right decision for your budget. Browse our questions below to learn more about the factors that influence medical alert system expenses.

Medical Alert Systems and Subscriptions

Medical alert system expenses vary widely. Take some time to explore different companies and features before you commit to a specific plan.

How much do medical alert systems typically cost?

Some companies offer a free device if you commit to a long-term subscription plan. After that, expect to pay anywhere from $20 per month for a basic in-home unit or pendant to $100 for an on-the-go unit. You may also have additional fees for special features such as automatic fall detection or a PIN-protected lock box.

How much do add-ons for medical alert systems typically cost?

Add-on fees range from a few dollars per month to more than $20. Popular add-ons include automatic fall detection, PIN-protected lock boxes, caregiver portals and additional devices.

Which medical alert system providers have the lowest fees?

Fees vary based on your subscription plan and features, but you can generally find budget-friendly medical alert systems from Alert1, LifeStation, MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical and QMedic.

Which medical alert system providers have the highest fees?

Life Alert has some of the highest fees for medical alert subscriptions, and new subscribers must commit to a 3-year contract. Philips Lifeline may initially seem affordable if you just look at monthly subscription costs, but the company has high device fees, expensive features, and hefty activation fees.

Are subscription fees mandatory for medical alert systems?

Subscription fees are generally required for medical alert systems, though a handful of companies waive subscription costs if you purchase a device outright rather than renting it.

How Insurance Affects Medical Alert System Costs

Some insurance companies provide full or partial coverage for medical alert systems. However, you may end up restricted to a particular device or company. Review the questions below before requesting coverage from your insurance provider.

Does Medicare cover medical alert systems?

Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B generally do not cover medical alert systems. Some seniors receive reimbursement from Medicare Advantage, also called Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage is a supplemental health plan for current Medicare subscribers.

Does Medicaid cover medical alert systems?

Medicaid sometimes covers the cost of medical alert systems through special programs and waivers. You must apply directly to these programs for coverage even if you are an existing Medicaid member.

Does TRICARE cover medical alert systems?

TRICARE may help cover the cost of medical alert systems. Former military members can also contact the Department of Veterans Affairs for help covering medical alert system costs. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides coverage for a couple different devices.

How can you find out if your insurance provider covers medical alert systems?

Contact the subscriber number on the back of your insurance card or visit your local social services agency for help determining whether your provider covers medical alert systems.

Do you have any out-of-pocket expenses if your insurance covers medical alert systems?

Insurance companies do not always cover all of the expenses associated with medical alert systems. You may need to pay out of pocket for special features or some types of devices. For example, your insurance company may cover an in-home device but require that you help pay for a mobile unit.

Other Factors That Influence Medical Alert System Costs

It’s difficult to provide a universal figure for medical alert systems because so many factors affect the price seniors pay. Consider the information below before you select a medical alert device for yourself or a loved one.

Which types of medical alert devices are the most affordable?

In-home medical alert systems, such as wall-mounted units and basic pendants, often cost less than mobile units. In-home units typically have a range of 600 to 1,000 feet, so you can’t use them in large homes, nor can you use them while running errands or spending time with friends in nearby cities.

Expect to pay a higher subscription fee for mobile units, such as watches and phones. Some companies also make mobile-friendly pendants for seniors.

Are special features free?

Some companies offer special features, such as a wall-mounted unit to pair with a mobile unit, at no charge. However, this is not the norm. You can generally expect to pay extra for special features such as automatic fall detection.

Are discounted plans available?

Some associations, including the AARP, occasionally offer discounts for seniors interested in obtaining a medical alert system. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging for more information.

You can also ask your preferred medical alert device provider if discounts are available. Some companies reduce subscription fees if you purchase multiple devices or commit to a long-term plan.

Are there cancellation fees for medical alert systems?

Many medical alert providers offer free trials and cancellation periods, but some do not. Ask your preferred company whether you can test drive a device before signing a contract.

Medical alert systems are priced based on the type of model you choose as well as the special features you need. Compare several products and plans before you make a selection, as you may get locked into a long-term contract with a hefty cancellation fee.