Medical Alert System Cost Guide
It’s no secret that many older Americans want to stay in their own homes as they continue aging. According to the AARP, almost nine in 10 seniors ages 65 and older would prefer spending their golden years in their own homes as long as possible.
Adding a medical alert system in the home can help millions of aging Baby Boomers retain their independence and avoid having to move into assisted care facilities. Medical alert systems provide emergency assistance and fall/location monitoring while in and out of the home. This gives older homeowners an increased peace of mind, as well as reassurance to primary caregivers and loved ones that all is OK while you are on your own.
Seniors and caregivers often ask: how much does a medical alert system cost? To that end, Modernize compiled this extensive cost guide for medical alert systems to provide in-depth insight into life alert costs and fees. Medical alert systems are often a necessary home accessibility investment that allow seniors to remain fully independent and age safely in their own homes. Below we’ve broken down life alert costs based on set-up fees, recurring monthly costs and long-term fees.
How Much Does a Medical Alert System Cost?
Medical alert system costs vary depending on a few main factors. Overall pricing depends on the cost of initial setup, equipment, monthly recurring charges and additional fees for add-on services. We’ve broken down the key aspects of each potential cost structure below.
One-Time Installation Costs
Medical alert device costs can vary by manufacturer, as well as by the type of service you desire. As a baseline, though, expect to pay around $100 for a technician to set up a medical alert system at your residence. You may be able to reduce or remove this fee with a little haggling with customer service.
Recurring Monthly Costs
Most medical alert system providers have monthly subscription plans where users pay a fixed amount, which is calculated based on the type of monitoring system and service. If you require additional features to your medical alert system, this might add to your monthly payments. Here are common fee structures seniors can expect to pay each month, based on the type of alert system they are using:
1. Home-based alert systems
Home-based systems center around wearable signaling devices, such as pendants or bracelets. Users can hit a button on the device to signal a base station in their home, which sends an alert to the monitoring center. More expensive base stations allow two-way live communication between the user and monitoring center. Basic protection starts at just $20 per month, but quickly moves up with the addition of premium features and can reach around $100.
2. Mobile alert systems
These alert systems work with cellular networks to provide on-the-go monitoring. This means that you can benefit from the system whether you are in or away from the home, but with an added cost. Expect to pay around $40 monthly for equipment and GPS location services.
3. Monitored alert systems
Monitoring is a key feature of the best medical alert systems for seniors. Seniors in distress can use their signaling devices to alert a 24-hour emergency call center that they require assistance immediately. A basic monitoring system starts around $20 per month.
4. Unmonitored alert systems
This can be the least-expensive option for life alert costs, since there is no recurring monthly fee. However, homeowners will usually have to make a one-time installation payment to set up the system. These systems are connected to your home’s landline, and alert either 911 or preset personal contacts that the wearer needs help.
5. Fall detection alert systems
This important and common add-on feature for medical alert systems provides users with integrated sensors in their neck pendants or bracelets to detect a falling event via sudden/sharp motion. Expect to pay an additional $10 to $20 per month for the service.
6. GPS location tracking
With this life alert add-on, caregivers and loved ones can track a wearer’s location in real time via GPS. It costs an additional $5 or more per month, depending on the service provider.
Monitoring, fall detection and GPS location tracking are three of the most common add-on features offered by the best medical alert devices. There are also other options you can explore as well. These include:
- Two-way voice communication. This feature that allows the wearer to communicate directly with dispatchers at the monitoring center is standard in the best medical alert systems for seniors.
- Activity monitoring. This can be an extremely important add-on feature, especially for the very elderly who are still living independently. Monitoring systems ensure the wearer is moving about daily either through a system of motion detectors strategically placed in the home, or by responding to prompts from their wearable devices. The former will add more to medical alert device costs on a monthly basis compared to the latter.
- Medical Pill Reminders. More robust alert systems can be programmed to send a prompt to users when it’s time to take their medications.
These extra features are not typically part of low-cost base-level monitoring subscriptions. However, they can add tremendous value through enhanced security, safety and communication.
Add-ons such as motion sensors will require additional hardware and installation, so they will bring additional upfront costs. Others typically require higher-level subscriptions than standard monitoring packages, so they bring additional recurring monthly expenses. Fees for these services vary by device provider, but typically range from $10 to $20 each per month.
Other Ongoing Costs
Homeowners often wonder if there are any additional fees associated with medical alert systems, other those outlined above.
The answer is yes, there can be additional expenses associated with these devices. Wearable pendants and bracelets are often labeled water-resistant rather than water-proof. Users who damage or compromise their equipment in the shower, pool or other situation likely will have to pay out of pocket to replace them. The same goes for lost equipment. Many providers do offer protection plans, however, they only cover users from accidental damage or loss of equipment. Expect protection plans to start around $10 per month.
Cancelling medical alert subscriptions, meanwhile, can be as easy as placing a call to a provider’s customer service center. However, some device providers require lengthy contract commitments, which are only cancellable if the user moves into a nursing home or passes. Consumers should carefully consider what type of subscription plan works best for their budget and monitoring expectations prior to entering into any type of contract situation.
Are Medical Alert Systems Tax Deductible?
The answer to this question depends on some key factors.
The Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct certain medical equipment if they are prescribed by a doctor, such as home or portable oxygen systems. The equipment must help you with a chronic illness such or medical condition. This might be hard to prove, since medical alert systems primarily provide security and reassurance. Consult with your tax professional about your particular circumstances prior to purchasing any medical alert devices.
Unfortunately, medical alert systems also are rarely covered by private health insurers or Medicaid/Medicare. Qualifying for a covered system depends on the type of coverage you have and other circumstances. A phone call to your insurer’s customer care center can help determine eligibility, if applicable. Medicare Part C, which covers medical devices, may in some instances provide financial aid to purchase a medical alert system. Contact your provider for potential eligibility.
Are Medical Alert Systems Worth it?
Medical alerts can prove invaluable in certain situations. Some seniors may never find themselves in dire circumstances where they require assistance from their medical alert systems. However, the additional security and potential for safety may provide worthwhile peace-of-mind and comfort to family members and caretakers. It’s difficult to compare the low cost of the medical alert service with the reassurance that all is well with your beloved senior when you aren’t aren’t around to help in an emergency.
Even if you opt for a package that provides a bundle of add-on features, the expense is trivial compared to the costs of moving your senior into an assisted living facility. According to the National Center For Assisted Living, the national average for assisted living services is $4,000 a month, and costs are much higher in certain states.
Medical alert systems that allow seniors to remain living independently by providing activity monitoring and communication to first responders can help stave off the tremendous expense associated with assisted living facilities.
Comparing Medical Alert System Prices
Choosing the best medical alert devices for seniors can be daunting. There are so many different options and service providers from which to choose.
A good place to start is to compare prices for basic subscription plans. Then, look into the additional costs for any add-on features that are important to you. Modernize is here to help seniors and caregivers find the best medical alert systems by providing local quotes from trustworthy companies in your area. We’ve done the legwork of getting cost comparisons for you. We put you in touch with reliable medical alert system companies in your region and get you one step closer to providing increased protection and security for your beloved senior.