How to Get a Medical Alert Bracelet 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.
Many elderly adults are on fixed incomes due to Social Security or pension plans. Some seniors also have major medical expenses, such as nursing home care or prescription medications not covered by health insurance. There are also aging adults who simply enjoy living frugally even though they aren’t struggling financially. If you can relate to any of these situations, you might be wondering — How can I get a medical alert bracelet for free?
It’s difficult to find free medical alert bracelets, but it’s not impossible. Some insurance providers recognize the life-saving potential of medical alert devices, so they offer full or partial coverage for them. You may also have success receiving assistance from a senior-friendly agency or contacting device manufacturers directly.
We understand the importance of protecting elderly adults, so we’ve compiled a list of potential options for free medical alert bracelets. Before you assume a medical alert bracelet isn’t in your budget, consider these suggestions below.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
Medical insurance companies often provide vague, confusing benefit descriptions when it comes to medical alert systems. Your insurance company may provide coverage but it depends on several factors, including your income and whether the bracelet is deemed a medical necessity. If coverage is granted, you may be able to select your own device or end up restricted to a couple of insurance-approved companies.
Medicare Part A and B generally don’t cover the cost of medical alert bracelets. Medicare Part A covers hospital-related expenses, such as hospice, nursing home care and in-home health care. Medicare Part B covers medical tests and medical equipment, yet it generally doesn’t pay for medical alert systems.
However, you may have some luck getting coverage from Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage. This is a supplemental health plan that offers private coverage for seniors who already receive Medicare. Device coverage varies depending on which plan you choose, so keep that in mind before you make a selection.
Medicaid recipients are more likely to receive financial assistance with a medical alert bracelet than seniors who have Medicare coverage. There are several waivers you can request if you’re a Medicaid subscriber, including Home and Community Based Services programs, consumer-directed services, Money Follows the Person and Personal Care Attendant programs.
Medicaid is a state-funded insurance plan, so benefits vary by location. For example, Money Follows the Person is available in 44 states, and waiver amounts for Home and Community Based Services programs vary by location. Your Medicaid plan may also offer additional waivers that we haven’t listed. You can learn which programs are available by contacting your state’s social services office or reaching out to your Medicaid provider.
Visit a Senior Assistance Agency
Some seniors receive help with medical alert bracelets or other personal emergency response services by requesting scholarships, grants or other forms of financial assistance from senior specific agencies. These places are geared specifically toward helping seniors with programs through a state-managed agency, such as the Area Agency on Aging and Department of Mental Health.
Another option is to look for organizations geared toward you or your loved one’s health condition, such as an agency that offers grants for individuals with dementia. Veterans could find help paying for these devices with the Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services program by contacting their local veterans administration. You may also find help by reaching out to local churches.
Talk to your doctor if you’re considering a medical alert bracelet but are unsure whether you can afford it. Your medical provider may have resources to help you get the 24/7 monitoring you need from a medical alert device.
Find a Medical Alert System Provider That Offers Free Devices
Numerous medical alert system providers, including Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm medical, offer free devices. There’s a catch, though — the devices are typically only free with a monthly, quarterly or annual subscription. That means you still have to pay fees for monitoring or fall detection, but you can likely avoid device, shipping and activation fees.
Before you commit to a medical alert bracelet, talk to the provider. Some offer assistance programs for seniors who can’t afford the devices. The medical alert system provider may also have other resources to help you find coverage.
Finding a free medical alert bracelet isn’t easy, but there are numerous options for seniors on a budget. Explore the resources above before deciding that you cannot afford this essential device.