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.

Technology is helping people stay connected more than ever before, and that’s especially true when it comes to medical alert systems. These small, wireless systems link a wearable help button with a cellular or landline phone service to provide users with instant access to a 24/7 monitored call center that can dispatch help in an emergency.

While medical alert systems are typically geared towards seniors, these high-tech devices can also help people with disabilities remain as independent as possible. Others who rely on personal call buttons include lone workers, students and those who are concerned about their safety.

Helping You Pick the Right Medical Alert System

The growing demand for portable, wireless personal call buttons means there are now dozens of companies offering similar medical alert monitoring services and devices, which can make choosing the right one a challenge. After all, there’s a lot to think about when trying to pick the best medical alert system for yourself or a loved one, and the right device can make all the difference in an emergency.

To help you narrow down your options we’ve compiled a collection of head-to-head comparison articles that break down the pros and cons of the most popular devices and services. Today we’re looking at Medical Guardian and Medical Alert, two companies that offer a range of in-home and mobile monitored medical alert systems.

Below you’ll find an in-depth chart that looks at the key similarities and differences between these two companies followed by a brief overview, pricing comparison and our pick for the best medical alert system.

Category


Medical Guardian


Medical Alert


COSTS


Up-Front Equipment


$0-$99


$0


Monthly Monitoring


$29.95-$79.95


$22.95-$37.95


Activation Fee


$0


$0


Contract


No


No


Optional Monthly Add-On Services


Fall detection (+$10 per month on compatible devices/systems)
Lockbox (+$2/month)
Wall-mounted HELP button (+$2/month per button)
Voice-Activated Wall Buttons ($5 a month per button)


Device protection plan (+$5/month)
Fall detection (+$10/month)


FEATURES


Water-Resistant Wearable Devices


Yes


Yes — Pendant and wristband


Connection


Landline or cellular


Landline or cellular


2-Way Voice Communication


Yes — Through in-home base unit, mobile pendant or medical smart watch


Yes — Through in-home base unit or handheld mobile base unit


Range (From in-home base unit to help button)


Up to 1300' for landline systems; up to 600' for cellular in-home systems


N/A


Battery Life


Up to 32 hour battery back-up on base unit
Up to 24 hours on mobile medical alert device


32-36 hour battery back-up on base units
Non-rechargeable battery in wearable medical alert buttons


FALL DETECTION, LOCATION and RESPONSE SERVICE


Fall Detection


Optional (+$10/month)


Optional (+$10/month)


GPS Locator


Yes (On-The-Go products)


Yes (On-The-Go system)


Coverage Away From Home


Yes (On-The-Go products)


Yes (On-The-Go system)


24/7 USA Call Center


Yes


Yes, with service in up to 140 languages


OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES



Voice-activated wall button with pull cord
PIN-protected lockbox
Wall-mounted help buttons
Extra medical alert buttons


N/A


Medical Guardian Overview

Medical Guardian is one of the top-rated medical alert companies in the United States, and they own and operate a U.S. monitoring center staffed by professionals who are fluent in English and Spanish. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and customers can cancel at any time without penalty.

Medical Guardian is one of only a few medical alert providers who offer a medical alert smart watch, the Freedom Guardian. This wrist-worn emergency help button comes in black or white and features a simple, user-friendly touch-screen interface with SMS voice-to-text messaging, a weather app, a calendar function and a clock. It also has GPS tracking to help first responders locate the user in an emergency, and authorized caregivers can monitor the user through the companion app.

Another unique feature of Medical Guardian is their Limitless Icons Collection, a collection of medical alert pendants that are enclosed in gold- or silver-tone metal topped with a hand-cut resin stone. These jewelry-style pendants are compatible with the Home and Mobile Guardian systems, making them a good option for users who want an alternative to traditional medical alert call buttons.

Pros of Medical Guardian:

  • Offers the Freedom Guardian, a specially designed medical alert smart watch that comes in black or white
  • Monitoring for a second person at the same address is free with the purchase of an additional help button (on select in-home plans only)
  • The Icon Collection of medical alert pendants look and feel like costume jewelry, which may appeal to some fashion-conscious consumers
  • Wearables are water-resistant and safe for use in the shower
  • The Family Guardian system combines a wireless help button with multiple safety sensors and an app that lets caregivers monitor the user through a mobile phone, tablet or computer
  • In-home help buttons can be worn on a lanyard or on the wrist

Cons of Medical Guardian:

  • No fall detection on the Freedom Guardian medical smart watch
  • Range between in-home cellular base unit and medical alert button is limited to 600 feet or less
  • Fall detection is not 100% reliable and may not trigger a call for help in every situation
  • Users must subscribe to a semiannual or annual plan to get the lowest available monthly monitoring cost
  • The Mobile Guardian system includes a pendant or wrist button paired with a portable base unit that users must keep within 350 feet of the help button in order for the system to work

Medical Alert Overview

Medical Alert is a subsidiary of Connect America, a company that specializes in personal and institutional medical monitoring systems.

Medical Alert operates multiple call centers throughout the United States, and there are no long-term contracts, activation fees or equipment costs.

There are three monitored medical alert systems available through Medical Alert, including a landline-based in-home system, a cellular in-home system and a mobile system. The landline based devices are compatible with most VoIP systems, and the cellular devices are connected to AT&T’s 3G wireless network.

Fall detection is available as an add-on option with all systems and plans, and GPS location monitoring is included with the On-The-Go system.

Pros of Medical Alert:

  • Help button batteries never need charging
  • Fall detection is available on any system for a $10/month fee
  • Service works on compatible phone lines and cellular networks throughout the U.S., Canada, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
  • The low-profile help buttons are discrete and lightweight
  • The 365Access Caregiver App lets authorized caregivers access real-time information about a Medical Alert user, such as their location and any contact with the emergency monitoring center

Cons of Medical Alert:

  • To get the lowest available monthly price, users need to pay for an annual plan
  • The On-The-Go system requires that users carry a portable base unit equipped with a speakerphone that’s paired with a wrist worn or pendant help button
  • Deciphering the costs can be challenging
  • No medical alert smart watch

Pricing

Medical Guardian monitoring costs start at $29.95 per month for the Classic Guardian system that’s connected to an existing landline, and fall detection costs an extra $10 per month. Monitoring for the GPS-enabled Mobile Guardian system is $49.95 per month, while the Family Guardian system costs $79.95 per month. Lower monthly costs are available through periodic promotions and for users who opt to pay for a semiannual or annual plan.

Costs for Medical Alert systems are somewhat lower, with the entry-level system, starting at $22.95 per month. The company also offers periodic discounts and seasonal sales that include deals on monitoring costs, so consumers may be able to get an even lower price. At $37.95 per month, the most expensive Medical Alert plan costs less than half what the top-tier plan is through Medical Guardian.

Our Pick

Although Medical Guardian prices are higher than comparable services through Medical Alert, we like the fact that Medical Guardian offers a wider variety of emergency call buttons, namely, the Freedom Guardian smart watch and the Icons Collections pendants. Consumers who want a help button that doesn’t look like a medical device may want to look at Medical Guardian.

On the other hand, Medical Alert prices are lower than Medical Guardian, making this company a good option for those who want a service that’s affordable and reliable. Medical Alert has some of the lowest monthly monitoring costs in the industry, and their services work throughout the U.S., Canada, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which is ideal for users who travel.

Compare More Medical Alert Systems