Most Affordable Medical Alert Systems

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Updated: July 11, 2022


affordable medical alert system

Can you afford a medical alert system? Chances are, you can.

As you or your loved one gets older, you might find that you can relax a bit more when you know there is a plan in place in case of a medical emergency. However, not all plans for aging need to include home care or a senior living community. In fact, many wise plans include a much less expensive alternative that enhances independence while offering peace of mind: a medical alert system. 

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a medical alert system, and price is at the top of the list. You want to be sure you find a system that not only meets your needs but also meets your budget requirements. Here’s what you need to know as you search for the most affordable medical alert systems.

What Equipment is Required for Medical Alert Systems?

Today’s medical alert systems offer a variety of options, which can make it even easier to find one that suits your specific needs and abilities. In general, a medical alert system typically includes some type of wearable device the person can keep on and press if they need assistance. Sometimes these wearable devices look like a watch while others are a pendant. Some systems offer a clip-on device that the person can choose to wear on their belt loop. 

Beyond the wearable device, medical alert systems can also come with a home-base device that stays in the home and normally placed on a night stand. While not required if the wearable device connects via cellular or WiFi, a home-base device can be especially helpful for adults who do not want to use a LTE or WiFi wearable or who prefer to have another way to call for help if needed.

More advanced medical alert systems might also feature motion detecting devices that can be placed around the home. These devices keep what happens in the home private, but can be helpful as they can notice decreased movement, predict falls, and relay that information to the person or their family caregivers.

In-Home vs. Mobile Medical Alert Systems

wearable medical alert systems

Medical alert systems and wearable devices are not created equal. Find one that suits your lifestyle and your needs.

When it comes to choosing a medical alert system, you have options. This is wonderful, as even just a few decades ago, there were only a few types available. However, more options can also mean more confusion when making a decision. The more you know about how to compare what is out there with what you need, the better decision you can make.

The first type of difference you will notice between medical alert systems are ones that are mobile versus ones that are based in the home. We touched on this a bit in the previous section, but it is important to add some more details so you can understand the pros and cons of each.

An in-home system is more traditional and features a home-based unit that stays somewhere in the home. This home-base monitor or console can be used to request help or to respond when a pendant is pressed in the home. These systems connect through a traditional phone line, VoIP, or cellular connection and are ideal for someone who stays at home the majority of the day.

A mobile medical alert system connects a wearable device to assistance via a cellular LTE and sometimes a WiFi connection. This option does not require a home-base system or a landline, and might be best for someone who is on the go throughout the day. These pendants can be pressed anywhere for the person to receive assistance from operators.

How Medical Alert Systems Work

Medical alert systems were developed as a way to ensure that if an emergency happens, the person would not need to find a way to get to a phone to call for help. With the majority of falls and other medical emergencies happening away from a phone, a medical alert system is always there and eliminates the need to find a phone in order to call for assistance.

Whether you use an in-home system or a mobile one, the device itself works in a similar way. Once the user requests help by pushing a button on the device, they are met with a response from a trained operator. The operator will communicate verbally with the person over the home-base system or through the wearable device. The operator is there to assess the situation and determine how they can best help. In some cases, this means the operator will call for emergency response.

Wearable devices are water-resistant or waterproof and have a long battery life so that they can be worn consistently throughout the day, no matter if the person is sleeping, showering, or going about their day’s activities.

An Overview of Our Ranking Methodology

At Medical Alert Advice, we spend time researching medical alert device options and companies so that you don’t have to. We dive deep in order to determine costs, hidden fees, add-ons, perks, and drawbacks of the systems on the market. We do our best to provide consumers with accurate reviews as well as a way to compare the systems in order to make their best choice. Read more about our star rating system and ranking methodology.

List of the Cheapest Medical Alert Systems to Consider

Medical alert systems are not all priced equally. Some are less expensive than others. Here are a few of the less expensive options that are out there.

Can I Afford a Medical Alert System?

Here’s the good news: most adults can afford a medical alert system. The service fee is typically charged monthly and can be well worth the investment to both the user and their family members. Monthly fees for most systems are typically less than $30 per month and connect to your already established telephone landline or include LTE cellular for no additional fees.

What Affects Medical Alert System Fees and Why Price Matters

There are a variety of factors that can affect the price of medical alert systems. The more you understand about the fees, the better you can predict the total cost of the system you choose. Here are the factors that might affect the price of the system you are looking at:

  • Set-up or initial fee. This fee is to begin an account and can sometimes be waived.
  • Installation fee. For systems that require installation in the home, a fee can be charged for someone to come into the home and install the system. This is most common for home-based systems.
  • Device or equipment fee. There can be a fee for the device or wearable. This fee is typically charged at the beginning and it can sometimes be waived.
  • Monthly fee. This consistent fee is charged on a monthly basis, though some companies offer an incentive if you choose to pay annually or semi-annually. The monthly fee covers the monitoring services and you are not charged by how many times you press your button for help.
  • Shipping fees. For a device or system that does not require professional installation, the equipment is shipped to the user and the user is charged for that shipping. Sometimes this fee can be waived.
  • Activation fee. This is a one-time fee that is charged when the device comes online and begins services.
  • Warranty or protection fees. Some systems have an option of a warranty, which you can choose to purchase. These are typically charged as an add-on to your monthly fee.
  • Replacement or repair fees. If a device no longer works, you might need to send it in for repairs or a replacement. This will be billed at an additional fee, especially if you have not chosen a warranty or protection plan. Some companies do not charge for repairs since they lease or rent the system to you as long as the repair is due to an equipment failure and not damaged by the user. 
  • Cancellation fees. Some medical alert system companies charge a cancellation fee if you have signed a yearly or extended contract and not for month-to-month services.
  • Additional devices or users. For a couple who lives in the home together and each needs a device, there could be an additional charge for multiple users and multiple devices. This can be simply for the added equipment. additional monthly costs, or both.

Tips for Choosing the Most Affordable Medical Alert System

When it is time to choose the medical alert system that works best with your budget, consider a few of these questions to help you make the best decision that won’t break your bottom line:

  • Do I need an in-home system or a mobile system and do I already have the technology to support it?

Remember, an in-home system can require a landline so if you don’t already have a landline, you may need to purchase an LTE cellular option from your medical alert provider. Some charge extra for this service and some do not.

  • Can I get any of the initial fees waived? 

It’s best to order your medical alert system by phone, not only to help you choose the best medical alert system but to get the best deal. Speak with a representative at the company you are looking at and ask what types of discounts they can offer or if any start-up or shipping fees can be waived.

  • Is a protection plan the best choice for me?

Paying an additional fee each month to cover a protection plan can seem expensive at first, but it can pay off if you or your loved one are prone to damage items or prefer that peace of mind.

  • How many users will we need to register?

If you are looking for medical alert devices for your parents, for example, you will need to remember that the price could increase since there will be two users and two devices. Companies like LifeFone do not charge extra for spouses protected in the same home.

  • Do I need to lock into a long contract or can I pay month-to-month?

Don’t lock yourself into a long-term contact. Paying month-to-month and having the option to cancel at any time is desirable for most people. Be sure the system you are looking at offers this option.

Medical Alert Accessories

Another factor that can drive up the initial or ongoing cost of a medical alert system is any accessories you choose to buy. Accessories vary from company to company but can include:

  • Lanyards or wrist straps for pendants
  • Fall detection services
  • Motion detectors in the home
  • Activity tracking
  • Medication monitoring or management assistance
  • Caregiver apps that can keep family caregivers in the loop with any emergency calls or concerns
  • Wall buttons to affix to shower walls or elsewhere in the home that can be pressed in case of an emergency

Medical Alert System Reviews

Finally, all the accessories and additional services won’t mean much if you don’t pick a system that meets your current needs. With all the medical alert service companies out there, it is easy to wonder if the one you ultimately pick will meet your expectations and provide friendly customer service.

One way you can ensure you are doing your due diligence is to read reviews of companies that offer medical alert systems and services. You can find reviews online as well as by asking your neighbors or friends for their recommendations. Look for a company that features:

  • Reasonable pricing
  • Excellent customer service
  • Trained operators who answer calls for assistance
  • A system and device that meet your needs, especially if you are out and about most of the day
  • The option to skip a long-term contract and cancel anytime
  • Quick response to emergency calls and customer service inquiries from TMA trained operators

What to Remember Before Buying a Medical Alert System

Choosing a medical alert system can seem daunting at first, but once you take time to jot down your specific needs and expectations, you’ll find that narrowing down your choices becomes even easier. Here are a few tips to remember before you purchase your medical alert system:

  • Know what you need, and be realistic. If you or your loved one is out of the home throughout the day, an in-home landline-based system will not be the most useful. Be sure you know your routine (or your loved one’s routine) so that you can choose a system that will work best.
  • Read reviews and comparisons. Exploring device company websites is certainly an excellent idea, but finding reliable reviews and comparisons will often give you more information than you see on individual websites.
  • Talk to your physician. Get recommendations or tips on what to look for based on your specific situation and needs.
  • Skip the long-term contract. You should feel comfortable switching systems as your needs change.
  • Talk to medical alert representatives more than once during your decision-making process. You shouldn’t feel pressured to make a decision on the spot while chatting on the phone or over the web with a company. Instead, you should feel like you are getting your questions answered so that you can make a wise choice when you are ready.

Key Takeaways

Ready to begin finding your own medical alert system? Remember our key takeaways:

  • Know all the fees that are associated with the device or system you are looking at, including any activation, installation, or protection plan costs.
  • Remember to read reviews and comparisons from objective websites.
  • Determine if you need an in-home or mobile system based on your current needs and daily routines.
  • Adding accessories might enhance your experience with your medical alert system, but those accessories might come at an additional cost.
  • Ask if there are fees that can be waived before your make your decision. Many times, representatives will waive shipping, activation, or installation fees when you begin service.
  • Choose a medical alert system that you know how to use and a device that you will actually wear and not forget on the counter when you start your day.

Why You Can Trust Our Review

The team at Medical Alert Advice takes our review process seriously. We re-evaluate our reviews as terms, conditions, options, and costs change so that you have the most updated information. Our comparison tool allows you to find three systems and compare them based on a variety of factors, side-by-side.

Medical Alert Systems FAQ

Still have some questions about medical alert systems? If you can’t find your answer here, be sure to get the answer from the companies you are researching, before you purchase your system or device.

What is a medical alert device?

A medical alert device or system gives the user the opportunity to find immediate assistance in case of a fall or other emergency without having to find a phone to dial 9-1-1.

What is a wearable device?

A wearable device is often a button that is worn as a pendant or on the wrist. You can also find some companies that have a device on a clip you can clip to your belt.

Who answers my call for help?

A team of trained operators works to answer calls from medical alert devices. They will provide assistance and can call for emergency response as needed.

How much do medical alert systems cost?

Systems, devices, and services vary in cost from company to company. Most monthly service fees start at less than $30.

How do I choose a medical alert system?

Pick a system based on your current needs, routine, and budget. Be sure to read reviews and make comparisons as well as to speak with a physician for recommendations.