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Original Medicare doesn’t cover Life Alert or any other comparable medical alert system. Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover these personal emergency response systems, and those with Original Medicare may be able to find discounts through Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medigap.
Through the touch of a help button or fall detection technology (if available), medical alert systems are devices that help you get emergency assistance by connecting you to a monitoring service or 911.
Are Life Alert costs covered by Medicare?
Although Medicare Part B does cover many types of durable medical equipment, including wheelchairs and scooters, it doesn’t cover medical alert systems like Life Alert. These systems don’t conform to Medicare’s specific definition of medical devices and therefore aren’t eligible for coverage.
Does Medicare Advantage cover medical alert systems?
All Medicare Advantage plans must provide the same basic coverage as Original Medicare. Since Medicare Part B doesn’t cover Life Alert, Medicare Advantage isn’t required to provide this coverage either. However, many Medicare Advantage policies offer benefits that go beyond Medicare Part B coverage, so you may be able to find a plan that will cover Life Alert or a comparable system.
Because Medicare Advantage is private insurance offered by many different insurance companies, any benefits beyond Original Medicare (along with possible deductibles, copays and coinsurance) will vary depending on the plan you purchase.
Does Medigap cover medical alert systems?
If you purchase a Medigap policy to supplement your Original Medicare coverage, you may be able to find coverage or discounts for Life Alert and other medical alert systems, although not all Medigap policies offer this benefit.
Note that Medigap policies are offered by private insurance companies, so available Medigap plan types, costs and perks will vary. If a personal emergency notification system benefit is important to you, shop around to try to find a Medigap policy that includes it or offers discounts.
What do medical alert systems cost without insurance?
Personal emergency response systems have a wide range of prices, depending on the specific brand and which features and equipment you choose. One of the most widely known options, Life Alert, has a one-time fee of around $200 to cover setup, maintenance and service — and the complete Life Alert system with an extra bathroom speaker comes at an additional monthly fee of $98.85 per month. Without the bathroom speaker, Life Alert costs $79.95 per month. In either case, a three-year contract applies.
However, a number of lower-priced alternatives are available — many with no startup costs and a host of features that may include GPS, fall detection, 24/7 monitoring and a waterproof help button. For example, MobileHelp’s plans range from $19.95 to $54.95 per month, and Bay Alarm Medical offers plans priced from $19.95 to $39.95 monthly, with no startup costs.
When choosing a medical alert system, it’s wise to carefully compare the features and pricing of each option so you can select the system that most affordably meets your unique health and safety concerns — while avoiding any costly features you may not need.
Is there a way to get a medical alert system more affordably?
If your Medicare plan doesn’t cover medical alert systems and you’re finding the pricing prohibitive, here are a few ways you may be able to lower your costs:
AARP. AARP offers its members a 15% discount for Lifeline Medical Alert Service.
Nonprofit organizations. Organizations like USAging may be able to connect you with programs in your area that provide free personal medical alert systems.
Simple systems with no monthly cost. If you need only a basic type of alert system, some products connect the wearer with 911 or send a prerecorded emergency message to up to three contacts at the push of a button.
Veterans discounts. Some companies offer reduced rates to those who served.
Veterans organizations. You may be able to get financial help through your local veterans organization or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
If you have additional questions about Medicare, visit Medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227, TTY 877-486-2048).