Medical alert systems provide seniors with instant access to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making these systems popular with seniors who want to remain as independent as possible. These monitored, always-on systems allow seniors to connect with loved ones, neighbors and emergency services through a small, wearable unit, such as a pendant or wristwatch-style device. Some devices even feature advanced fall detection and GPS technology to give seniors and their loved ones with the peace of mind that comes with knowing help is always close by.

Personal safety systems have grown in popularity, and there are now dozens of medical alert systems on the market, and in many cases, Medicaid or private insurance benefits cover the monthly costs.

Comparing the different features and services of each system can be complicated and time-consuming — that’s why we’ve created in-depth, side-by-side comparisons to help you choose the right system.

In this guide, we’re comparing two of the oldest and best-known brands in the business — Phillips Lifeline and LifeFone. Both of these companies are based in the United States. Their products have been on the market since the 1970s, and each system offers similar services and features at comparable price points.

Side By Side Comparison Philips Lifeline LifeFone
Up-Front Equipment $0 $0 – $39.95 per device
Monthly Monitoring $29.95 – $64.95 $24.95 – $39.95
+$5/month for optional fall detection monitoring
+$10/month for On-The-Go fall detection necklace
+$19/month for daily check-in calls/medication reminders
+$19/month for daily check-in calls/medication reminders
Activation Fee $50 – $149 per device $0
Contract Month-to-month Month-to-month, full refund of unused prepaid services
Optional Monthly Add-On Services N/A Device Insurance – $5
Daily Check-In – $19
Medication Reminders – $6
GPS Location Service – $9
Wearable Devices
Pendant and wristband Pendant and wristband with temperature sensor
Connection Landline or cellular (AT&T network) Landline or cellular (AT&T and Verizon networks)
2-Way Voice Communication Through in-home communicator or GoSafe 2 pendant Through in-home base for At-Home products or wearable pendant with On-The-Go service
Range (From in-home base unit for landline service) Up to 800’ Up to 1300’ for two-way communication; up to 600’ for at-home fall detection
Battery life Non-rechargeable batteries in wristband/pendant of HomeSafe devices – wearables are automatically replaced by Philips when the battery is low

48-hour battery backup in HomeSafe base unit, 2-7 day backup in GoSafe wearable devices
Up to 30 days or up to 5 days for devices with fall detection

32-hour battery backup in At-Home Landline base unit
Fall Detection Included in monthly fee with HomeSafe with Auto Alert and all GoSafe units Optional monthly add-on with all products
GPS Locator Included in GoSafe and GoSafe 2 products Included in On-The-Go GPS products
Coverage Away From Home Included with GoSafe devices Included with On-The-Go products
24/7 USA Call Center Yes, service available in up to 140 languages Yes
None Hanging and wall-mounted master lock boxes
Wall-mounted help button
Extra wearable alert buttons
Beaded lanyard

Philips Lifeline Overview

Founded by gerontologist Dr. Andrew Dibner in 1974, Philips Lifeline is the oldest and largest provider of monitored medical alert systems throughout North America. Over 9 million calls for help from 7.5 million nationwide subscribers are made to the two Lifeline monitoring centers in the U.S., and callers can get help in up to 140 different languages.

Philips is the only FDA-approved medical alert service on the market, and automatic fall detection is included in all but the HomeSafe Standard device. The HomeSafe pendant and wrist units feature a non-replaceable, long-life battery, and the devices are automatically replaced by Philips when the battery is low.

Pros of Philips Lifeline:

  • Established, trusted U.S.-based company
  • Designed by a physician
  • Simple, all-inclusive pricing
  • Lightweight, discreet wearable devices
  • Automatic battery monitoring and replacement
  • Advanced fall detection and GPS locating
  • No monthly/annual contract

Cons of Philips Lifeline:

  • No discounts for spouse/additional service in the same household
  • No price guarantee – monitoring costs may increase over time
  • No referral bonus or prepaid service discounts
  • Equipment guaranteed for one year only
  • Activation fees range from $50 to $149 per device

LifeFone Overview

LifeFone was established in 1976 and is based in White Plains, NY. Monitoring services are provided through the company-owned, U.S.-based customer service call center, and there are two auxiliary backup call centers to ensure continuity of service.

What sets LifeFone apart is the fact that the company offers value-added options designed to help seniors remain safe and independent, such as medication reminders and daily outbound safety checks that can be customized to each subscriber. This service may provide family members and caregivers with added peace of mind that comes with knowing they’ll be alerted if their loved one doesn’t answer the daily reminder call from LifeFone.

Pros of LifeFone:

  • Long-standing U.S. company
  • Lifetime warranty of all LifeFone units with no-charge replacement service
  • No activation fees
  • Subscribers who prepay receive service discounts and free products
  • Second subscriber in same residence can be added to plan for free
  • Unlimited contact notifications
  • Optional daily check-in service and medication reminders

Cons of LifeFone:

  • Plan pricing can be difficult to understand – services such as fall detection and daily check-in services cost extra and can add up quickly
  • Users must replace low batteries in pendants and wrist wearables themselves
  • The On-The-Go GPS pendant and the wrist device are available in black only

Pricing Comparison

Pricing for LifeFone is slightly lower per month than Philips Lifeline for the same basic monitoring services. LifeFone customers who prepay are rewarded with discounted monthly fees, free shipping and free lockboxes, while Philips does not offer prepayment discounts. LifeFone also has a lifetime price guarantee and unlimited referral bonuses of one month free service for every new subscriber referred by a current customer. Seniors who live with a spouse, companion or loved one can add a second person at the same address at no cost, making this service even more affordable for couples.

By comparison, Philips Lifeline prices include features such as fall detection, eliminating the need to navigate through the somewhat complicated plan options and pricing offered with LifeFone. We also like the fact that the small, lightweight Philips Lifeline wearable devices come in a neutral off-white color, making them more appealing to a broad range of users who may be otherwise resistant to wearing a medic alert pendant or wrist unit.

Our Pick

With similar features, options and prices, it’s difficult to choose a clear winner between these two systems. Both companies have earned positive user reviews and maintain A+ ratings with the Better Business Bureau, and they each offer nationwide coverage on the AT&T cellular network. That said, LifeFone comes out on top in terms of cost, customer incentives and added features; however, Philips Lifeline wins when it comes to simple, all-inclusive pricing that takes the guesswork out of choosing a medic alert system.

Simply put, LifeFone may be the best medic alert system for seniors who need a wearable emergency call device with optional, paid add-on safety services, such as daily wellness check-ins and medication reminders. The prepayment option can be helpful for family members who want to set their loved ones up with a worry-free, monitored service.

Philips Lifeline may be a good choice for seniors who need a reliable, simple medic alert system that includes all the basic services they need at a flat monthly subscription rate.

Compare More Medical Alert Systems

Click on the links below to read about Medical Alert system comparisons.