Paying For A Medical Alert Device

The number one concern I hear from family coordinators of care is their loved one’s safety.  ‘I’m looking for people to check in on my Dad while I’m out of town” and “I don’t want my Mom to slip in the shower while she’s alone in her house” are common phrases.

Safety can mean many things.  Some families are concerned about proper railings to help a loved one get up the stairs.  Others need someone to assist with dressing in the morning to avoid physical exhaustion.  And still others want to review their loved one’s monthly checking statements to catch any instances of eldercare fraud.

Safety from a fall is a universal concern.  The primary product to help the elderly in these types of situations is a medical alert device.

A medical alert device is a small mobile device on a string worn around the neck or kept in the pocket.  A loved one pushes an emergency button if they need help and they’re connected to emergency services or directly to a loved one.

I want to enable you to feel comfortable in your purchase.  I want to make sure you don’t break your bank account.  I want to empower you with information on all of the hidden fees and transactions.  By the end of this article you will feel comfortable that you made a good choice.

How To Find The Best Medical Alert Device?

There are several excellent reviews of medical alert devices.  They evaluate each based on functionality, services, cost and long-term durability. Some of my favorites include:

If you’re new to the search process start there.  Within ten minutes you will be informed and know what the major products are.


How To Pay For A Medical Alert Device

Medical alert companies charge multiples levels of pricing.  It’s important to consider each before purchasing a device.

1. One Time Device Costs ($0 – $100)

When you purchase a medical alert device the largest up-front cost is for the device itself.  Some companies like Bay Alarm Medical don’t have up-front costs.  They simply charge a monthly service fee.

Most providers however do charge up-front / startup costs.  Many are around $50.  Some go as high as $80 – $100.  These startup costs are one time and do not recur on a monthly basis.

2. Ongoing Costs ($240 – $480)

Medical alerts systems are priced very similar to your personal phone.  Your up-front cost is the phone (or medical alert device).  The monthly charges are for the data, text and minutes (or access to emergency services).

This is where the bulk of your costs are.  Many are $20 – $40 a month which doesn’t sound like much.  However over a full year that can be as much as $500.

Many also require a contract (just like your phone).  If you cancel the contact before it’s up there’s a termination fee.

3. Other: Equipment Fees, Activation Fees, Shipping Fees, or Security Deposits, Cancellation Policies

All of the medical device companies offer tiered products.  In addition to the basic medical alert many offer an automatic fall detection device or mobile GPS system.  Be careful.  These come at an additional $10 – $40 a month or $120 – $480 a year.

If you cancel the service you will not be reimbursed for unused services that month.  If you are under a contract you will pay the cancellation fee which can be $100 – $200.

Make sure you also include standard shipping rates when you first purchase your medical alert device.


How Get Discounts For A Medical Alert Device

Now that we have gone over the costs I want to enable you to get significant discounts.  Saving money is one of the best ways to help a family caring for an elderly loved one.

There are several methods to getting a discount on medical alert devices:

1. Insurance Companies

Some insurance companies will pay for a portion or all of a medical alert device.  Getting rapid medical assistance to those in need is in their self-interest.  It lowers future medical costs and minimizes procedures.

They will likely ask for sign off from your loved one’s doctor that a medical alert device is needed.  You may also need to fill out some forms.

2. Membership Organizations 

Several organizations will get you a discount on your medical device.  AARP, AAA and USAA memberships have discounts with several of the large providers.

Speak to the company representative and see if any of your memberships apply.

3. Long-Term Care Insurance

If you have long-term care insurance your policy likely covers expenses for durable medical equipment.  Many insurance companies include medical alert devices in this category.

Call you insurance company’s claims division and ask them:

“Does (loved one’s name) policy cover medical alarm systems and if so, what are the restrictions or limits?”

4. Flexible Payment Plans

If you or your loved one have difficulty paying for the medical alert device you can speak to the company about flexible payment plans.  This allows you to pay less money per month in exchange for paying for a longer period of time.

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Published: August 6, 2015
By: JP Adams

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