Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

Are Medical Alert Systems Reliable?

Sunday, June 20th

Are Medical Alert Systems Reliable?

As a growing segment of the population in the United States continues to age, the need for medical alert systems also is increasing. Baby boomers and the generation beyond want the option of staying in their homes - rather than being forced to live in a nursing or personal care home - for as long as possible.

But with age come new challenges and illnesses which can make it difficult to remain in your own home, especially if you live alone. Adult children of aging parents also face the unique challenge of being able to help their parents remain independent, even if they do not live close enough to regularly check on them in person.

So how does an aging population maintain its independence without stressing out friends and family?

Enter the medical alert system, and all of these stressors are greatly diminished.

There are a variety of medical alert systems on the market today, but they all basically work the same. The person wears or carries with them a transmitter, which communicates wirelessly with a remote device which is plugged into a landline telephone jack. If a person requires assistance, they simply push the button on their wearable device. That sends a signal to the remote base, which in turn contacts the call center associated with the medical alert system.

Most medical alert systems have their own operations centers, so calls go directly to them, rather than being routed to 911. The person who activated the device can then speak to the communication center, indicating the nature of their problem. The person at the communication center must then decide whether to call for an ambulance, or to alert a friend or family member who can assist in person.

Some medical alert systems even are designed to detect when a person wearing them falls. In these cases, the person may be unconscious and unable to push a button to request help, so the device automatically will send a report to the communication center.

Sounds great, right? In theory, these kinds of systems seem like the perfect solution to those who wish to remain in their homes, with the added security of knowing help is just a button push away. But how reliable are these kinds of systems?

According to the companies which sell them - and the various testimonials posted about them - the devices are incredibly reliable. The wearable units, of which the majority is waterproof, have a battery life span of three to five years on average. So there is little concern the unit will require frequent battery changes, or that the user will be unprotected while it charges.

Even during a power outage, customers are protected for 24 to 36 hours, depending on the brand name of unit they purchased. Most devices now come with a back-up battery supply for such times. The only time this will be an issue is if the person using the medical alert device does not have a traditional landline telephone, but rather has Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP, service through a cable company. Modems which operate VOIP systems lose power during a power outage, which will prevent the medical alert system from functioning. Those who wish to ensure their safety during a power outage should connect their devices to a traditional telephone landline.

The Best Medical Alert Systems Compare Medical Alert Systems Compare Medical Alert System Reviews What are the best Medical Alert Systems Best Medical Alert System Reviews

Medical Alert System FAQ

A medical alert system is often used by seniors who want to "age in place" rather than move to an independent/assisted living facility. Using a button on a pendant or wrist strap, they can let loved ones and/or emergency responders know that they need help due to a fall or medical situation.
Most systems on the market include a wearable panic button and round-the-clock remote monitoring. You can choose a plan that covers in-home use only or one that includes coverage when the wearer is out and about.
That depends on the person using the system and what kind of help they might need. Some medical alert systems include automatic fall detection, GPS tracking, and even smartwatch features like heart rate monitoring and tracking health goals.
Pricing varies, but you can anticipate monthly service fees ranging from $19.95 to $56.95 - the higher your coverage, the more you'll pay per month. You'll also need to factor in equipment costs: some service providers let you choose between buying it outright (lower monthly fees) and renting it (higher monthly fees).
Unfortunately, you won't get coverage for a medical alert system through Original Medicare or Medicaid. But, if you have a supplemental insurance plan, you might be able to get a discount. Check with your carrier if this applies to you.
The majority of medical alert systems come with a 30-day trial or money-back guarantee. However, with respect to the equipment, you'll want to read the fine print to understand your provider's terms if something goes wrong with your panic button or with any other devices down the line.
Yes. Very few medical alert providers lock you into a long-term contract. Most often, you'll get a prorated refund for any prepaid months of coverage once you return rented equipment. Plus, you have that initial trial period of 15-30 days that's offered by most medical alert services.
Your best bet is to see what other customers have to say. Look for reviews, preferably on third-party sites not affiliated with the provider. Another great resource is the Better Business Bureau: an "A+" rating and accreditation are good signs that you or your loved one will be well-protected by a particular medical alert service.

Compare Medical Alert Systems

Select any 2 Medical Alert Systems to compare them head to head

best-medical-alert-systems
  • Medical Guardian
  • Bay Alarm Medical
  • Mobile Help
  • Life Fone
  • Philips Lifeline
  • Life Station
  • Rescue Alert
  • ADT
  • Life Alert
  • Alert 1
  • Response Link
Medical Guardian vs Bay Alarm Medical Medical Guardian vs Mobile Help Medical Guardian vs Life Fone Medical Guardian vs Philips Lifeline Medical Guardian vs Life Station Medical Guardian vs Rescue Alert Medical Guardian vs ADT Medical Guardian vs Life Alert Medical Guardian vs Alert 1 Medical Guardian vs Response Link Bay Alarm Medical vs Mobile Help Bay Alarm Medical vs Life Fone Bay Alarm Medical vs Philips Lifeline Bay Alarm Medical vs Life Station Bay Alarm Medical vs Rescue Alert Bay Alarm Medical vs ADT Bay Alarm Medical vs Life Alert Bay Alarm Medical vs Alert 1 Bay Alarm Medical vs Response Link Mobile Help vs Life Fone Mobile Help vs Philips Lifeline Mobile Help vs Life Station Mobile Help vs Rescue Alert Mobile Help vs ADT Mobile Help vs Life Alert Mobile Help vs Alert 1 Mobile Help vs Response Link Life Fone vs Philips Lifeline Life Fone vs Life Station Life Fone vs Rescue Alert Life Fone vs ADT Life Fone vs Life Alert Life Fone vs Alert 1 Life Fone vs Response Link Philips Lifeline vs Life Station Philips Lifeline vs Rescue Alert Philips Lifeline vs ADT Philips Lifeline vs Life Alert Philips Lifeline vs Alert 1 Philips Lifeline vs Response Link Life Station vs Rescue Alert Life Station vs ADT Life Station vs Life Alert Life Station vs Alert 1 Life Station vs Response Link Rescue Alert vs ADT Rescue Alert vs Life Alert Rescue Alert vs Alert 1 Rescue Alert vs Response Link ADT vs Life Alert ADT vs Alert 1 ADT vs Response Link Life Alert vs Alert 1 Life Alert vs Response Link Alert 1 vs Response Link
Compare the Best Medical Alert Systems
- VS -
Review the Best Medical Alert Systems
See the Best Medical Alert System
The Best Reviews of Medical Alert Systems