Compare Medical Alerts

From equipment and coverage to contract & price and reputation, we research everything you need to compare medical alerts and make a decision. Learn how our editors compare the different factors of medical alerts below.
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How we Compare Medical Alerts

Equipment - 20%
Coverage - 10%
Maintenance & Repairs - 12%
Monitoring - 25%
Service Agreements - 18%
Contract & Price - 5%
Reputation - 10%

Equipment

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Basic medical alert systems are typically comprised of two pieces of equipment, the base unit and the emergency help button, unless it's a mobile GPS system that goes wherever you do. The base unit is the device that receives the call for help when the emergency help button is pushed, and then passes the alert onto the monitoring station. All of the Top 10 Medical Alert Companies have emergency buttons and 2-Way Voice Communication built into all of their base unit systems, including home and mobile options. It’s important to note that the help button must be within range of the base unit for the help signal to be received. Base units for home systems have a backup battery in case there is a power outage; we suggest a backup battery life of 24 hours or more.  Mobile medical alerts also have batteries that need to be charged after use and come with a docking station; we suggest a mobile battery life of at least 24 hours.

The Help Button (or pendants) are built into equipment like base units or wall mounted buttons, but also come as separate devices that can be worn on one's person, usually as a necklace or a bracelet. Alternative options for wearing your help button are available with some companies, however these are not as popular as necklaces or bracelets. Medical alert companies understand the importance of wearing the help button at all times, especially in the shower or tub where most accidents happen, so most companies only use water-resistant or waterproof help buttons. To learn more about wearable help button options, check out this article.

If you are shopping for a loved one, it is important to put yourself in their shoes. There is a lot to think about, so we’ve dedicated an article to help you select the system that will work with your loved ones needs.

Medical Alerts with the Best Equipment:

Coverage

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In order for the help button to work, it must be within range of the base unit. Think of the range in terms of a circle or sphere. The base unit is the center of the circle and the range is the radius around it. Which means that if you change the location of the base unit within your home, you can adjust the area that is covered by the medical alert system. Make sure that your equipment has enough range to cover the yard and mailbox, not just your home. Accidents happen anywhere so covering the areas that are used regularly is necessary.

The range of the system can vary based on the equipment or on the type of connection the base unit uses to communicate with the monitoring station, however most companies offer a range of 600ft or more for home systems and 350ft for mobile systems.

The type of connection your medical alert system uses to communicate with the monitoring call center can also impact the range of your devices. 

  • A landline connection is the most common and baseline option available. The system connects to your home’s phone line and communicates with the monitoring center. Landlines tend to give your system a farther range around your home than the alternative, a cellular connection, but this can vary by company. Additionally, some systems have the capability of "seizing the line", or sending an alert to the monitoring station even if the phone line is in use or off the hook. If this is not built into your equipment, you can purchase a RJ31X jack, which is available for around $5. However, you will likely need to hire an electrician to install it.
  • A cellular (or wireless) connection uses cellular links to send signals between your medical alert system and the monitoring station. With this option you do not have to pay for the landline but you may find that the range is limited. Mobile GPS systems only use a cellular connection.
  • Most Medical Alert Companies offer BOTH Landline and Cellular connections for home systems.

Even though medical alerts were originally used to help in case of a medical emergency, they are far less common than you would expect. Rescue Alert reported that only 6% of their calls are for medical emergencies. When a medical alert user pushes the help button, instead of notifying the emergency responders, a user can have family members or friends contacted instead to assist them before dispatching emergency services. When you sign up for a medical alert system the company representative will help you come up with a care plan, or who to call if the help button is pushed. You will want to be prepared for this process by having the numbers and names of emergency contacts you would like the company to contact in case of an emergency. Additionally, providing important medical information such as health conditions or prescriptions will also be helpful to emergency responders if they are dispatched.

Additionally, some companies offer services to help monitor the well-being of the user. This could be routine wellness checks that requires the user to push the help button at regular intervals or at set times throughout the day to let the monitoring company all is well. Medication reminders are also an option with some companies, a representative will place a call to the system user at pre-determined times.

Note: All systems provide coverage in the home. "Home Units" are stationary systems, while "Mobile Units" will cover you anywhere you go.

The Bottom Line:

Before you sign up for a medical alert think about the area that needs coverage both inside and outside of the home, then find equipment that has the range you need. Base units send alerts to the monitoring station through a landline or cellular connection, which can also impact the range of the help button depending on the company you use. Lastly, creating a care plan, and keeping it up to date with your medical alert company will allow more coverage options when the system is activated.

Some medical alert companies also offer fire & smoke and/or carbon monoxide detection in addition to medical alert monitoring. 

Medical Alerts with the Best Coverage:

Bay Alarm MedicalMedical GuardianADTLifeStationGreatCallMedical Care AlertLifeFoneAlert 1
Home Units
Connection TypeLandline or CellularLandline or CellularLandline or CellularLandline or CellularLandline or CellularLandline or CellularLandline or Cellular
Help Button Range1000 ft.600 to 1300 ft.300 to 600 ft.500 ft.1000 ft.480 to 1500 ft.600 ft.
Mobile Units
Connection CellularCellularCellularCellularCellularCellularCellularCellular
Button RangeBuilt into device350 ft.100 ft.650 ft.Built into device600 ft.Built into device and available as standard wristband or pendant, 300 – 1,300 ft. 600 ft.

Maintenance & Repairs

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Most medical alert companies lease their equipment rather than selling it, which can make maintenance and repairs easy for you. You will want to make sure your company has a warranty or replacement policy. This way, if your equipment breaks as a result of normal wear and tear, you just have to contact your medical alert company and arrange to send it in for repairs. If the equipment is broken because of something outside of regular use, you may need to pay for the replacements. If you choose to purchase your system, these services may not be available without a warranty.

Many times, medical alert companies will also include help button battery replacement as a part of their service, and will preemptively send replacement batteries so you never have to go without working devices. If they don’t, batteries are not hard to replace, as you can always purchase them online or check the closest hardware store.

While most home base units are plugged into an electrical outlet in your home, they do come equipped with a back-up battery so if power is lost your equipment will continue to work. We suggest at least a 24-hour back-up battery for base units. However, it is not hard to find equipment with back-up batteries of 32 hours or more. If you have a mobile GPS system, a battery life of 24 hours is also recommended.

Another thing to look out for is if your medical alert company tests the equipment and connection on a regular basis. Most all medical alert companies perform silent tests throughout the day, however companies that also ask you to test you equipment with them regularly. If the company does not offer reminders or schedule times for tests, you can still test your equipment whenever you’d like, just let the representative know when they respond that all is well.  With smoke alarms you are supposed to test them annually, however with medical alert devices that can mean the difference between life or death, so you will want to ensure monthly or even weekly testing.

Maintenance & Repair Suggestions:

Understand your company’s replacement policy before signing up.

  • Normal wear and tear repair or replacement should be covered
  • Battery replacement could also be included

Battery Life

  • Make sure that there is a back –up battery life (home systems) or a battery charge (for mobile GPS system) of at least 24 hours.

Test you equipment regularly

  • Either set up appointments with the medical alert company
  • Or perform the tests yourself (DIY)

The Bottom Line:

If you lease your medical alert equipment, many times companies will include maintenance and repair as a part of their service. If you are purchasing your equipment, make sure there’s a warranty that will replace your equipment if it is faulty. Some companies will even send you replacement batteries for help buttons. Base units with back-up batteries that last for 24 hours or more are ideal. Finally, make sure that your medical alert company performs equipment tests regularly, we suggest at least monthly.

Most medical alert companies have you install your system yourself. It is easy, saves you money and makes moving a breeze. It should only take about 5 minutes, and if you need help just call the company for guidance or you can always hire a handyman or ask a helpful friend or neighbor for help.

Medical Alerts with the Best Maintenance & Repairs:

Compare the Top 10 Medical Alert Companies

Bay Alarm MedicalMedical GuardianADTLifeStationGreatCallMedical Care AlertLifeFoneAlert 1
Home Unit Back-up Battery32 hours32 hoursBetween 12 to 20 hours32 hoursN/A72 hours30 – 36 hrs24 hours
Mobile Unit Battery Life72 hours24 to 36 hours24 hours36 hours24 hours4 months24 – 36 hrs. (Work while charging)2 months
TestingWeeklyMonthlyDIYWeeklyDIYAutomaticDIY with reminderEvery 28 days

Monitoring

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Monitoring is one of the most important factors when shopping for medical alert systems, whether it be done professionally by a monitoring center, or consists simply of the base unit making the emergency calls itself. In the case of the former option, your monthly payments ensure that you or your loved one has a service that quickly responds in case of an emergency, so knowing who is going to be there in a time of need is essential.

 

 

Medical Alerts with the Best Monitoring:

Service Agreements

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Look into if there is a cancellation policy for whatever medical alert company you are interested in. Some companies have no cancellation penalty and if you cancel mid-month, you will receive a reimbursement for the remaining time you have prepaid for. Other companies have policies in place that allow them to keep the prepaid amount even if you cancel early. Additionally, if you do want to cancel, some companies require a 30-day notice of cancellation.

It’s also worth mentioning that if you cancel your monitoring service, the company will require you to return any rented or leased equipment, sometimes at your own cost. Failure to return the company’s equipment, or if it is lost or damaged, may mean you have to pay to replace it (typically around $350).  Additionally, some companies will charge a restocking fee to return the equipment.  We suggest reading over the Terms of Service for more information on a company’s cancellation policies, so you aren’t surprised later down the road.

Trial periods backed by money-back guarantees are also available from several medical alert companies, and typically range from 14-30 days. Understanding the requirements for cancelling your service during the cancellation period can be very helpful as well. For instance, when does the trial period begin, when you sign up or when the equipment is delivered? When does the trial period end (when I call to cancel or once the equipment is returned)? By knowing this information up front, you can prepare accordingly without any unwelcome surprises.

When looking over your Service Agreement, watch for…

  • Long term contracts
  • Cancellation policies for pre-paid services
    • Will you be reimbursed for time unused, or will the company keep payments you’ve made upfront?
  • Equipment Return Policy
    • Are there “restocking fees” or other costs?
    • Who pays for shipping?
  • Trial Period Restrictions
    • When does the trial begin? When does it end?

The Bottom Line:

Read your Service Agreement carefully before signing up! Avoid long-term contracts and make sure you understand cancellation policies about pre-paid services and equipment returns. Trial periods can be helpful, but not all companies offer them.

Is there more than one person in the home who needs a medical alert? Many times a single base unit is able to recognize multiple help buttons, so companies will just add a small fee to the monthly bill for additional users (usually just the rental fee for the additional help button- about $4/month). 

Medical Alerts with the Best Service Agreements:

Compare the Top 10 Medical Alert Companies

Bay Alarm MedicalMedical GuardianADTLifeStationGreatCallMedical Care AlertLifeFoneAlert 1
Trial Periods14 daysNo TrialNo Trial 30 days30 days30 days30 days30 days
CommitmentMonth-by-month3 month minimumMonth-by-monthMonth-by-monthMonth-by-month3 month minimumMonth-by-monthMonth-by-month
CancellationNo money returnedPay for time used30 day notice30 day noticePay for time usedPay for time usedPay for time usedPay for time used

Contract & Price

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Every medical alert company delas with contracts and fees a little differently. When they offer professional monitoring, the monthly bill generally covers the monitoring service and any cost associated with renting or leasing the equipment. This is a good option, since any repairs, upgrades, or replacements are generally included. Consider pre-paying for the year or a set period, as this may signficantlt reduce your costs. Companies that offer the option of DIY monitoring generally sell the equipment to the user, and don't require any contracts. Whichever sort of system you decide on, it's always important to make sure you read through the fine print thoroughly and carefully, in case there are any hidden or additional fees. Since many medical alert systems are purchased on the behalf of the user, most companies have no problem with separate billing and service addresses.

 

 

Medical Alerts with the Best Contract & Price:

Compare the Top 10 Medical Alert Companies

Bay Alarm MedicalMedical GuardianADTLifeStationGreatCallMedical Care AlertLifeFoneAlert 1
Costs starting at$ 25.0$ 29.95$ 34.95$ 0.0$ 19.99$ 27.45$ 24.95$ 29.95

Reputation

Selecting the medical alert system that is right for you or your loved one can be challenging, and reading reviews from consumers can be a great way to help you narrow down your options. When researching companies on review websites, consider the number of reviewers, as a low number but an overall high score may not be as truly representative of the consumer experience as a larger sample size would. Another important factor to look at is the company's feedback. Businesses that genuinely care about their customers tend to take the time to address issues and attempt to remedy negative situations. Finally, make sure to learn from other people's mistakes, not only by avoiding companies with consistently bad reviews, but by thinking how certain issues might have been avoided altogether. Perhaps a particularly vitriolic review doesn't take into account that the source of their complaint is plainly stated in the company's terms of service, or could have been prevented by coming to the company sooner with their concerns. 

Medical Alerts with the Best Reputation:

Full Medical Alerts Comparison

EquipmentCoverageMaintenance & RepairsMonitoringService AgreementsContract & PriceReputation
Bay Alarm Medical Alert10.010.010.010.010.09.09.0
Medical Guardian Medical Alerts10.09.99.09.98.08.09.0
ADT Medical Alert8.08.59.09.59.08.08.0
Medical Alert by Connect America9.08.78.09.49.09.06.5
LifeStation Medical Alert8.58.79.58.58.09.59.4
MobileHelp Medical Alert8.08.58.59.09.09.09.0
GreatCall Medical Alert8.08.97.09.79.010.08.0
Medical Care Alert Medical Alert9.58.79.08.09.08.08.0
LifeFone Medical Alert9.58.29.08.09.08.08.0
Alert 1 Medical Alert7.08.09.07.98.08.07.5
Rescue Alert Medical Alert5.03.83.02.08.08.08.0
Freedom Alert Medical Alert5.03.03.02.07.07.07.0
One Call Alert Medical Alert5.03.03.02.06.06.07.0
MediPendant Medical Alert5.03.03.02.06.06.06.0
Senior Safety Medical Alert5.03.03.02.05.06.06.0
Life Beacon Medical Alert5.03.03.02.05.06.05.0
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Latest Reviews

Reviews help other customers make decisions. Share your experience with Medical Alerts
R
Rita G
Aurora, Colorado
7/2/2017
I bought our Medical Guardian service plan a number of months ago. This system is approved as being adequate supervision of the person you are charged with caring for. The necklace is easy to put on and remove with magnetic closure in back. An extra bonus is that I myself was included on the plan. Very satisfied with our plan.

David K
O'Fallon, Missouri
7/2/2017
I just started with MobileHelp. I am a tech dummy, so have had a lot of questions for them which were answered quickly and accurately. I have tested EVERY button and device they sent me and they were patient and understanding. Only on one instance did it take what to me was too long to respond. I will be watching that in the future. To me taking more than 30 seconds to respond to an emergency is unacceptable. In the one instance, it was late evening and >60 second response time. I have the Duo system with the fall detector and am impressed with the equipment. It is easy to set up and use. The company promises to provide batteries for the buttons when needed. Ordering was easy, and the representative did not try to push unwanted equipment on me. I had made up my mind beforehand what I wanted and he stuck to my agenda! Kudos for that. They told me it would take 7 - 14 days for the equipment to arrive. They lied! It arrived in 2 days! Instructions were easy to read, and in no time I had it set up and tested every button they gave me. The system seems to work very well, and the reps are polite and efficient. For now I rate my experience 5 stars plus. If something changes in the future, I will cover that also. This is the kind of equipment you will be super glad you have if you need it, but pray to hell you never need it!

David K
O'Fallon, Missouri
7/2/2017
I just started with MobileHelp. I am a tech dummy, so have had a lot of questions for them which were answered quickly and accurately. I have tested EVERY button and device they sent me and they were patient and understanding. Only on one instance did it take what to me was too long to respond. I will be watching that in the future. To me taking more than 30 seconds to respond to an emergency is unacceptable. In the one instance, it was late evening and >60 second response time. I have the Duo system with the fall detector and am impressed with the equipment. It is easy to set up and use. The company promises to provide batteries for the buttons when needed. Ordering was easy, and the representative did not try to push unwanted equipment on me. I had made up my mind beforehand what I wanted and he stuck to my agenda! Kudos for that. They told me it would take 7 - 14 days for the equipment to arrive. They lied! It arrived in 2 days! Instructions were easy to read, and in no time I had it set up and tested every button they gave me. The system seems to work very well, and the reps are polite and efficient. For now I rate my experience 5 stars plus. If something changes in the future, I will cover that also. This is the kind of equipment you will be super glad you have if you need it, but pray to hell you never need it!

Reviews help other customers make decisions. Share your experience with Medical Alerts