Does Medicare Cover Medical Alert Systems?

A Guide to Medical Alert Systems and Insurance Coverage in 2024

taylor shuman Taylor Shuman Senior Tech Expert & Editor

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Medical alert systems are vital to helping many older adults maintain their independence. As we age, the added peace of mind and protection a medical alert system can offer are appealing. Plus, they may help you age in place safely for years to come. However, alert systems can be costly, depending on the brand, payment plan, and design you choose.

If you’re retired or living on a fixed income, thinking of adding one more monthly bill to your life can feel stressful or even impossible. You might be wondering if Medicare covers the cost of medical alert systems. Let’s take a look!

Did You Know?

Did You Know? Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer coverage for medical alert systems, but it varies by plan and carrier. Visit our Medicare Advantage plan comparison page to find plans in your area and see what medical alert coverage they may offer.

Mini Guardian - One of Medical Guardian's affordable systems for seniors aging in place

Mini Guardian – One of Medical Guardian’s affordable systems for seniors aging in place

Does Medicare Cover Medical Alert Systems?

Part B of Original Medicare covers durable medical equipment, such as hospital beds, canes, walkers, and blood sugar meters.1 By definition, you might expect Medicare to cover medical alert systems. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover medical alert systems. Still, that shouldn’t stop you from getting a system. There are other ways to pay for a medical alert system, which we’ll cover below.

Does Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) Cover Medical Alert Systems?

Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is private insurance that provides the same essential benefits as Original Medicare, along with some extras.2 Because private insurance companies offer Medicare Advantage plans, what is included (beyond Original Medicare) varies by plan and carrier. Contact your Medicare Advantage carrier to discover if they cover medical alert systems.

Did You Know?

Did You Know? Medicare’s annual enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 every year. Read our guide to Medicare enrollment to learn everything you need to know about enrollment and coverage.

Does Medicaid Cover Medical Alert Systems?

The states administer Medicaid, so your home state determines exactly what is covered. Under Medicaid, medical alert systems are known as PERS (personal emergency response services), and they may be covered under programs such as Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS). In some states, such as New York,3 Medicaid covers PERS only as part of an approved home care plan. Other states may have different rules.

Quick Tip:

Quick Tip: Visit our guide to Medicare and Medicaid to learn more about what these two programs cover and how to qualify.

You’ll find your state’s profile on the Home and Community-Based Services page for more information. The best way to determine whether Medicaid will cover a medical alert system in your state is to call your local Medicaid office and ask about HCBS availability.

Other Ways to Pay for a Medical Alert System

Fortunately, Medicare and Medicaid aren’t the only options for paying for a medical alert system. You can also look into these programs.

  • Medigap: Medigap is private insurance that supplements Original Medicare. Unlike Medicare Advantage, it isn’t an alternative to Medicare. Instead, it adds benefits to your Medicare coverage. Like Medicare Advantage, whether a medical alert system is covered depends solely on your plan and carrier.
  • AARP or other senior discounts: The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a special interest group focused on the needs of older adults. Many companies, including some medical alert system providers, offer discounts to AARP members. Call your chosen medical provider to find out if they offer an AARP discount.
  • Long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance is private insurance designed to help with the costs of aging or permanent disability. Not all long-term care policies cover medical alert systems, but some may. Call your insurer for details.
  • VA discounts: If you’re a veteran, you may qualify for a discount on a medical alert system. Some companies discount the equipment, some give a price break on the monthly service, and some offer discounts on both. It’s always worth asking if a veteran’s discount is available. Visit our list of the best medical alert systems for veterans for more details.
  • Low-cost systems: While medical alert systems can be pricey, they don’t have to be. If you need only basic monitoring services, you may be able to save money with a low-cost package. Just shop carefully to ensure you’re not giving up critical features in the bargain.

Affordable Medical Alert Systems

Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Guardian in-home systems

Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Guardian in-home systems

If you are considering low-cost options, you may want to consider the following companies and plans:

1. Medical Guardian

Medical Guardian’s lineup offers many medical alert systems, with monthly prices starting at $29.95 per month. MGClassic, Medical Guardian’s most affordable option, includes a landline base unit with a 1,300-foot range and a 32-hour backup battery. It also features a water-resistant pendant that you can wear as a bracelet or necklace. Medical Guardian Classic includes access to the MyGuardian portal and app to increase caregiver communication and user monitoring. Want to learn more? You can read our review of Medical Guardian.

Read our review of Medical Guardian to learn more.

FYI:

FYI: Check out our list of the best affordable medical alert systems to compare inexpensive options.

Medical Alert System - Medical Guardian's MGHome Cellular system

Medical Alert System – Medical Guardian’s MGHome Cellular system

2. MobileHelp

MobileHelp is another low-cost option, with plans for individuals and couples. MobileHelp Classic, the least expensive plan, starts at $19.95 per month and runs on a cellular connection. MobileHelp Classic includes a pendant with one help button and a monitoring base. Equipment is included at no cost, as long as you’re actively subscribed to the plan. However, there is a one-time activation fee of $49.95.

Check out our hands-on MobileHelp review to learn more about their offerings.

MobileHelp Base Unit

MobileHelp Base Unit

3. Bay Alarm Medical

You can find another low-cost option through Bay Alarm Medical. Prices begin at $24.95 per month for basic at-home monitoring. This system uses a landline to give you clear two-way communication. You can choose a wearable pendant or wristband with this plan. Check out our 2024 Bay Alarm Medical review for more information.

Bay Alarm Medical - On The Go

Bay Alarm Medical – On The Go system is water resistant

Did You Know?

Did You Know? Bay Alarm offers Bella Charms, decorative plates for their pendant systems. If you’re self-conscious about wearing a medical alert system, consider adding one to disguise it.

4. Lively

For seniors who are on the go but still want the peace of mind of having a medical alert system, Lively offers an option that includes GPS technology. The basic plan starts at $24.99 per month, it will connect you with a call center that can pinpoint your location. You’ll also pay a one-time equipment fee of $79.99 for this system, but Lively offers several seasonal discounts throughout the year, so be on the lookout!

Read about our experience with Lively in our Lively review for 2024.

Charging the Lively Mobile2

Charging the Lively Mobile2

Written By:
Taylor Shuman
Senior Tech Expert & Editor
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As SeniorLiving.org’s tech expert and editor, Taylor has years of experience reviewing products and services for seniors. She is passionate about breaking down stigmas related to seniors and technology. She loves finding innovative ways to teach seniors about products and… Learn More About Taylor Shuman