Medical alert systems can provide a sense of comfort for both you and your loved ones, especially if you decide to age in place. The chances and severity of accidents and health issues increase as we age, so it’s important to feel safe and know you can get help if you need it. Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not cover medical alert systems.Some Medicare Advantage plans may provide limited coverage for them. 

With monthly fees and equipment fees, medical alert systems can be pricey, but there are alternatives that are covered by Medicare. We’ll go over these alternative medical devices and also share ways you can save money on a medical alert system.

Key Takeaways:

  • Original Medicare does not cover medical alert systems. 

  • Medicare Advantage plans may provide coverage for medical alert systems, but not all of them do, and you’ll likely have to pay some out-of-pocket costs.

  • Medicare does include coverage for medical devices that can help you feel safer in your home, but they must be considered medically necessary for you to receive coverage.

What is a medical alert system?

Medical alert systems are personal devices that are easily accessible in case of falls, injuries, and situations in which a person is unable to call for immediate help themself. Oftentimes they are equipped with a button or have motion sensors that trigger an emergency response. 

There are three types of medical alert systems you can choose from:

Smartphone/smartwatch-enabled devices: A medical alert system app or tracking system can help monitor any abnormal activities in the body to trigger an emergency response or help a person more easily dial for assistance. 

In-home assistants: In-home assistants like Google Home can reach friends, family members, or emergency response teams in case of an accident. Because in-home assistants require a person’s voice for action or it may be out of reach during an accident, they are less reliable than other medical alert systems.

Two-way communication systems: A two-way communication system is often a bracelet or a pendant worn by a person that triggers an emergency response when pressed. 

Medical alert systems also provide plans that combine multiple means of communication. More modern systems include tracking for health vitals, voice recognition, and step tracking.

Does Medicare cover medical alert systems?

Even though medical alert systems can help a person’s overall well-being, Medicare does not consider these devices medically necessary since they don’t help diagnose or treat a specific health condition. For this reason, Original Medicare does not cover medical alert systems.

Some Medicare Advantage plans help pay for medical alert systems. Plans vary, and you’d need to check the details of your policy to see what’s covered and how much you’d have to pay out of pocket. 

How much does a medical alert system cost?

After paying for the actual device, there are additional monthly service fees and maintenance costs to consider. All of these costs add up, making medical alert systems an expensive option! It can cost more than $100 for the device itself. Monthly subscription fees for emergency response services can range from $20 to $55. If you want extra security, like automatic fall detection, the pricing for both the device and your subscription could be higher. 

Below are some details about a few specific medical alert systems (MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical, and Lively) that are good, highly-rated options for more budget-conscious individuals.

  • Monthly service subscription from $19.95/mo

  • Offers a free trial period

  • Monthly service subscription from $27.95/mo

  • Offers a free trial period

  • Connects to your mobile device

  • Auto fall detection for a one-time $30 fee

  • Monthly service subscription from $39.99/mo

  • Auto fall detection for a one-time $25 fee

These are just three of the options out there, but there are many other options with different price points and features. Make sure to do a thorough comparison of medical alert systems to make sure you get a high-quality device that fulfills your needs, but also doesn’t break the bank!

Alternatives to medical alert systems

It’s important to feel safe in your home, especially if you’re at risk of falling. There are alternatives to medical alert systems, like fall-prevention plans and mobility devices, that can make you feel more secure as you go about your day-to-day life. 

Fall prevention strategies:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about medications that make you feel drowsy, previous falls and accidents, and health conditions that put you at risk for falling. Your healthcare provider can share ways to prevent falls that are specific to your health and living situation. Medicare’s annual wellness visit covers yearly personalized health advice like fall prevention strategies.

  • Improve your balance with physical exercise. If you’re able, you can reduce the risk of falling with physical activity that improves coordination and increases strength. Get moving today with these mobility exercises and stretches.

  • Consider the shoes you wear. Especially if you have joint issues, you can wear comfortable shoes with good grip and support to reduce your risk of falling.

  • Make your home safer by removing potential fall hazards and illuminating dark places with plenty of light. Use non-slip mats in the bathtub or shower, keep things out of the way so you don’t trip, and use more lamps or nightlights around the house. 

Mobility devices

You can use mobility and other assistive devices to help you move around your home with better stability. If medically necessary, Medicare will pay for the following mobility devices:

  • Canes

  • Commode chair

  • Walkers 

  • Wheelchairs and scooters

  • Patient lifts 

Modifying your home with the following features can also help make your home safer for you as you age:

  • Stairlifts 

  • Ramps

  • Furniture adjustments (like assist couches)

  • Walk-in tubs

If Medicare doesn’t cover a mobility device or home modification that you want, consider the price difference between medical alert systems and the home modification before you purchase either. 

Other ways to reduce your costs for medical alert systems

  • Yearly sales: Medical alert systems are often on sale throughout the year. Pay attention to prices during the holidays to see if you can save.

  • AARP: AARP has a member discount for specific medical alert systems. 

  • For Veterans: You can sometimes receive free or discounted medical alert systems through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

  • Medicaid: Those on Medicaid may have coverage for medical alert systems, but eligibility requirements are strict. 

  • Area Agencies on Aging: Depending on your financial situation, your local Area Agency on Aging may provide you with financial support to get a medical alert system.

As mentioned above, you can also opt for a cheaper choice for a medical alert system to save on costs. If your risk of falling isn’t high, you can also opt for fall prevention strategies or mobility devices, which may be covered by Medicare, depending on the device and situation. 

Have more questions? We’re here to help! Get free information and support by calling us at (855) 900-2427 or scheduling a time to chat.

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