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As the US population ages, the need for medical alert systems grows. Given the increasing number of seniors who prefer to "age in place" - living in their own home as long as possible, rather than moving to an independent or assisted living facility for the elderly - it is easy to see why a medical alert system could make the difference between life and death.
Medical alert systems give users the ability to rapidly contact emergency services, typically through a button worn on the wrist or as a pendant around the neck. All it takes is a click of that button to get in touch with an operator who will help determine if a call to emergency medical services is needed. For added peace of mind, a number of companies offer equipment that can automatically detect when the wearer has fallen.
Friday, January 21st
Medical Guardian was created by CEO Geoff Gross to address the need to help older adults live with greater freedom while still ensuring their safety, after seeing what his own grandmother went through after falling at home and needing assistance. As an A+ rated company with the Better Business Bureau and glowing reviews from thousands of satisfied customers, Medical Guardian has established itself as the nation's first choice for medical alert systems.
All plans include wearable, lightweight, waterproof panic buttons, as well as round-the-clock monitoring that is always based in the US. There are two main types of service offered by this provider: In-Home and On-the-Go. If you're primarily looking for protection at the user's residence, you'll be choosing among the following three plans:
On the other hand, if you're looking for protection that goes with the user, you'll want to consider Medical Guardian's two mobile medical alert systems:
Medical Guardian also offers several add-ons you may want to consider. For example, if first responders may need a key to enter your residence, you can include a 4-digit lockbox for $2/month; the code is then given to the emergency personnel by the call center, so that they can get in as quickly as possible if the door is locked. You may also want to install a wall-mounted button in locations of frequent falls, such as the bathroom.
We found the pricing for all of Medical Guardian's systems to be very affordable and competitive with other services, especially given that there's no charge for the equipment itself. And, while you never have to sign a lengthy contract to use this company's services, you can save money by choosing a quarterly or annual payment plan. Also, at the time of our review, new customers could get two free months by using a promo code featured at the top of the site, so keep your eyes open for any special promotions that may be in place at the time of your order.
Another plus of using Medical Guardian for your medical alert system is their fantastic customer-friendly policies. If you're not happy with your device, coverage, or any other aspect of the system, you have 30 days from delivery to call Medical Guardian, and another 15 days to return your equipment - for a full refund of your service fees, with no cancellation charge. This is the most generous return policy in the industry.
It's no surprise that customers have glowing things to say about their experience with the service. Their comments say everything you'd want to hear about a medical alert system: "fast response time", "reliable coverage", "saved my life more than once", and much more.
Medical Guardian consistently outpaces other systems with respect to affordability, technology, and reliability of both equipment and emergency response. With their five different plans, available Fall Detection upgrade, and no required contracts or activation fees, Medical Guardian earns our highest rating among companies offering the best medical alert systems.
Bay Alarm Medical is part of a family-owned company that has been in business for more than 70 years. As an Editors' Choice winner for PCMag and an accredited, "A+" rated business with the Better Business Bureau, Bay Alarm Medical is a fantastic choice for medical alert systems - including two options that are useful not just for seniors but also for children on-the-go and teen drivers.
Bay Alarm Medical has four choices among its available systems:
For the services that include wearable help buttons, these devices have a range of 1000 feet, which covers most living areas - including the front and back yards. You may also want to consider accessories for your system, such as a lockbox to provide emergency responders with access to a key (so that there's no damage to your home during a forced entry) or a wireless wall button in high-risk fall areas.
All of the pricing is contract-free, and other than the one-time fees listed, you won't pay anything for your equipment. You can save extra money by choosing a quarterly or 6-month payment plan, and discounts may be available if you're a member of USAA or another partner organization. Finally, be sure to check for current promotions; at the time of our review, there was a seasonal sale with significant savings over their regular prices.v
Bay Alarm Medical is one of the only companies we found that provides complimentary coverage for a spouse: if you purchase a second help pendant/wristwatch, they'll monitor it at no extra charge.
Another perk that Bay Alarm Medical offers is multilingual customer support in over 150 languages. So, if you're looking for peace of mind for Grandma who happens to speak primarily Polish, or Grandpa would prefer to get help in Hindi, chances are good that this service will have them covered.
We love that this company has a 24/7 emergency response team in two separate states; should anything happen to take one response station offline, there is immediate backup through the other location, ensuring that customers are truly protected around-the-clock.
If you decide to give Bay Alarm Medical a try, you'll have a 30-day free trial period. Should you not like the way the system works for you, just return the equipment for a full refund of any unused monthly fees.
With affordable, no-contract-required pricing and an excellent reputation, Bay Alarm Medical is a great choice for medical alert systems.
Although MobileHelp has only been in the medical alert systems industry for 10 years, they've established a good reputation for themselves, with an A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau and more than 1,000 positive, independently-verified customer reviews.
This company offers four systems to choose from:
If you'd like to save extra money, be sure to check out the Quarterly, Semi-Annual, and Annual tabs on the comparison page. MobileHelp also stays competitive with their risk-free, 30-day money back guarantee on all systems.
There are several upgrades available with most MobileHelp plans, such as Activity Tracking, Medication Reminders, and Location Requests for mobile device packages. Most of these services cost an additional $5 per month.
Customers have high praise for MobileHelp's medical alert systems: competitive pricing, responsive emergency monitoring and response, and helpful customer service representatives.
Because of their affordable pricing, unique features like Medication Reminders and the smart watch system, and great reputation, we recommend MobileHelp as a top provider of medical alert systems on the market today.
Since 1976, LifeFone has been a part of the healthcare communications industry. With both a A+ rating at the BBB and thousands of independently-verified positive customer reviews, this company continues to offer reliable, effective service through their medical alert systems.
When considering what LifeFone has to offer, you'll see that they have three general packages for their medical alert services:
All plans offer discounts if you pay quarterly or annually; look at the bottom of the main pricing page to see those options. Only the annually-paid plans come with free standard shipping on your equipment; however, there was a limited-time promotional offer at the time of our review that included free shipping and a free month of service on all plans, regardless of payment schedule.
LifeFone has a 30-day free trial on all medical alert systems, and you can cancel at any time. If you've prepaid for your service, you will get a refund on any unused amount as soon as your equipment is returned.
The company offers several add-on services, such as daily-check in calls, medication reminders, and location services. Check at the bottom of your desired plan's pricing and information page to see what additional features are included and at what cost. Most plans allow for free monitoring for a spouse, though you may have to pay for the additional help button pendant or wristband. Also, Fall Detection is available on all plans for an extra charge of either $5 or $10 per month, depending on which plan you choose.
With LifeFone, you also have the opportunity to create a customized plan of Emergency Care Instructions with the help of a customer service agent. This plan includes the user's medical history and medications, preferred hospital and physicians, allergies, as well as family members, friends, or neighbors who should be contacted in an emergency. Such information makes it much more likely that you or your loved one will get the right kind of care in a timely fashion, and that first responders will be well-informed when they arrive.
We were glad to see so many customers with good things to say about LifeFone's response to emergency situations. Their monitoring center has a great track record for getting people help quickly as well as informing the family members or friends designated in the Emergency Care Instructions.
In short, LifeFone keeps people safe with a good selection of medical alert systems that are priced fairly and serviced well.
Philips has been a key player in the electronics market for many years, but you may not have known that they also offer medical alert systems sold under the name of Lifeline. The Lifeline subsidiary had an A+ rating with the BBB at the time of our review.
You'll see four systems to choose from when shopping the Lifeline site:
Philips Lifeline has thousands of positive customer comments, especially regarding the responsiveness of the 24/7 monitoring team. We were pleased to see praise from customers who have used Lifeline for years and have gotten excellent service throughout.
On the other hand, we found a number of complaints regarding Philips Lifeline's customer service department, mostly with respect to billing and shipping. Some customers had a hard time cancelling service, and got conflicting answers from different parts of the company - including being taken to collections despite showing that their equipment had already been returned and the account had been cancelled.
Philips Lifeline pricing is slightly higher than similar medical alert systems on the market, but they may be a good option for you if you like the idea of working with a business that enjoys a long history and an overall good reputation.
LifeStation is based in New Jersey and has been in business for 14 years. They offer both landline- and cellular-based medical alert systems, along with Fall Detection if desired.
Unfortunately, you can only get pricing on non-landline medical alert systems if you call a representative; LifeStation could improve their ability to compete with other services by being more transparent with all of their systems and prices right on their website.
We did speak with a very knowledgeable customer service representative. We like that their reps do not work on commission, which makes it less likely that callers will be pushed to commit to a plan. Between the representative and the website, here is the available information for LifeStation's plans:
LifeStation does offer a 30-day trial period, where you can return the equipment and get a full refund if you're not satisfied with any part of the service. However, if you choose a prepaid plan and cancel after the first 30 days, you will not be eligible for a refund of your prepaid fees. This is also true if the user no longer needs the service, so we suggest you consider carefully before committing to a quarterly or annual plan if there's any chance that you may not use the medical alert system for the full three months or year.
The rep we spoke with gave us a "limited time offer" of $29.95 per month on the Enhanced Location system, but we would have had to give them a credit card over the phone to hold the price until making a decision. Without having that pricing in writing, we were hesitant to give them that kind of information.
Looking at many of the complaints filed with the BBB, it's a good thing we didn't: several people report being asked to provide a credit card "to hold the special pricing", and they were charged for the plan/medical alert system even though they never called back to authorize it. LifeStation has an A+ rating with the BBB and seems to respond - using a copy/paste response - to the complaints.
On a positive note, a plus offered by LifeStation is 24/7 customer service. While all medical alert services have 24/7 monitoring for emergency response, these operators aren't necessarily able to help users with technical issues like getting a GPS unit to track properly or installing a base unit. LifeStation does both: 24/7 monitoring as well as customer service, to make sure their clients can get either kind of help whenever they need it.
LifeStation gets high marks for a good rating with the BBB and round-the-clock customer service. On the other hand, they could improve by adding transparent pricing to their website, as well as by not seeming to play games with using credit cards to hold "special-offer pricing" and then charging customers without their permission.
Rescue Alert is based in Utah and provides medical alert systems for both home and mobile use. We love that Rescue Alert has been in business for more than 30 years and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Even more remarkable is that they have zero registered complaints with the BBB: an accomplishment for a company that has been around for three decades and BBB-accredited for nearly 15 years.
One reason customers like Rescue Alert is the 21-day check-in: if no calls or button-pushes have happened over the course of a 3-week period, RA's customer representatives will reach out to ask the user to test the system and make sure it's still functioning properly. Many seniors and their caregivers have said that they feel extra peace of mind knowing that the medical alert system is working even when they've not had to use it.
Compared with our highest-ranked medical alert services, Rescue Alert comes up a little short when it comes to monitoring: although customers are generally pleased with the courtesy and responsiveness received when they've pushed their button, RA's call center is in-house, with no backup in place. Our top services tend to have multiple call centers or service locations, so that in the event of a natural disaster or other outage, there is no break in service to their medical alert customers.
Pricing is also more complicated with Rescue Alert. While most companies have no equipment fees and just charge a monthly fee for monitoring, this provider breaks their medical alert service fees into two categories: rental vs. purchased equipment. With further pricing differences depending on whether payment is made monthly, quarterly, annually, or one-time, the average customer could understandably come out confused.
Here's the rough breakdown of what Rescue Alert has to offer:
Overall, Rescue Alert has a good reputation for service, and some customers may like having the option to purchase their equipment outright and pay lower monthly monitoring costs.
ADT has been a frontrunner in home security for many years, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that they carry a line of medical alert systems as well. As an A+ rated company with the Better Business Bureau, ADT has a good reputation.
Unlike their security systems, ADT does not require you to call or email for a quote in order to find out what their medical alert services cost - and we like that. They carry three basic systems:
We were frustrated as we tried to sort through ADT's pricing. For example, looking at the main pricing page for the On-the-Go system, it says that it costs $39.99/month. But, when we clicked on the "Buy Now" button, it gave us a quote of $37.99/month. The fine print also said "There is one-time charge per accessory. The first standard pendant or wristband is $5 per month." So, is it a one-time charge or a monthly charge? Despite the confusing wording, on our final order page we were only charged the $37.99 per month, with no extra monthly fees.
ADT also has no satisfaction guarantee. This may be because they don't require a long-term contract. We noticed that they said they offer discounted rates for paying quarterly or annually, but we weren't given that option at any point during the ordering process.
Despite these quirks, ADT is still worth considering for your medical alert system: if for no other reason than the fact that they are backed by one of the biggest names in home security.
Life Alert may be the most well-known provider of medical alert systems: founded in 1987 and famous for the "I've fallen and I can't get up!" TV spots, this CA-based business has a large customer base and a solid A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Unfortunately, Life Alert continues to make it difficult for prospective customers to get information about their plans and costs. The only way to get current pricing information for Life Alert is by calling to request a brochure. If you're not willing to give them your address and phone number, you'll be transferred to a customer care representative instead.
The representative we spoke with was very pleasant and emailed us the brochure right away. But, once again, there was no pricing in the brochure. The rep said the reason they don't put their pricing on the website is because they design a package to meet every individual's needs. She did say that they have three programs that range in price from $49 to $89 a month; she made no mention of an activation or startup fee, but many customers refer to it in their comments.
According to the customer representative, "We are the most expensive, but there's a reason: we're the best." She went on to say that one of the reasons that Life Alert is the best is because everything is guaranteed and put in writing.
Life Alert offers five main areas of protection:
It is worth noting that there's no specific service that detects fire. Life Alert has the traditional base unit / pendant or wristband help button system as most medical alert systems, and the wearer would still need to push the button to tell the monitoring station that there is a fire. Similarly, the home invasion protection assumes that the user pushes the help button and tells the dispatcher that there's a break-in in progress; the dispatcher can then hear activity within the home through the monitoring system, report an invasion in progress to the police, and warn the intruders over the base unit's speaker that help is on the way.
Customers can choose between landline or cellular base units, and the help button range is up to 800 feet.
Life Alert's "Protection on the Go" offers nationwide coverage via cellular networks and uses GPS to locate the wearer if needed. The help button can be worn, carried in a bag or purse, or even in a pocket.
We respect the fact that Life Alert is reliable and reputable. But, customers pay a lot for that name-brand value, for services that seem to be readily available through several other companies with solid reputations.
In today's age of buy-it-online, Life Alert is shooting itself in the foot by not being transparent with their pricing (and by having a website that looks like it hasn't been updated for at least a decade). If their service is truly head and shoulders above the rest, people will still be willing to pay higher prices. But, without the ability to see those prices right away and even to order a package directly through the site, we think many people will just move on to other companies offering medical alert systems.
Alert1 is based in Pennsylvania and is a partner brand of ResponseLINK - sharing a BBB listing and offering much of the same equipment. However, Alert1 seems to be the more modern version of the two, offering a total of 5 service options compared with just 2-3 sold by ResponseLINK:
All plans can include a second user for a discounted price; on some plans it is only just $5 more per month. Each plan includes unlimited button-pushes and talk time; we thought it was interesting that Alert1 says that their system can be used even if someone just feels like having a conversation.
Also, Alert1 does not require a long-term commitment or charge equipment fees for any of their medical alert systems. They do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, but only on plans that are prepaid in 6- or 12-month installments. In other words, if you select the shortest term, quarterly, and aren't happy with your service, you will not get any money back if you cancel. We found many customer reports that Alert1 does not make it easy to take advantage of that satisfaction guarantee, even when a user passes away or the service is no longer needed for some other reason. These complaints are part of the reason that the BBB has downgraded Alert1 / ResponseLINK's rating to an "A" instead of the "A+" they previously held.
We like the greater range of products and services offered by Alert1 when compared with their partner company, but we think most customers will not love the need to pay 6 months in advance just to get a 30-day guarantee - especially when many of their competitors have medical alert systems with more features and less money per month, with no need to prepay in order to have the possibility of a refund.
Alert1 is an improvement over ResponseLINK, but doesn't quite go far enough to put it in the same league as the higher-ranked medical alert systems in our review.
ResponseLINK has come a long way during their almost 20 years in the medical alert systems industry. Originally created out of a partnership between Advantor Corp. and Bell South, this company has moved away from its previous distributor-based sales model with an updated, easy-to-use website that allows customers to order directly - no salesperson required.
You'll find two basic, no-frills options when buying a medical alert system through ResponseLINK. Neither plan requires a long-term contract or equipment fees, and both come with free 1-5 business day shipping:
We weren't thrilled to see that the ResponseLINK site proudly proclaims an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, because the BBB site showed a lower grade of just "A". Most of the complaints there centered around their sister site, Alert1, which offers several equipment/service plans not available through ResponseLINK.
One frequent area of complaint is billing. You can save money by paying for your medical alert service annually or semi-annually, but buyer beware: we found many customers complaining that they were not able to get a refund for unused months if they had to cancel the service (e.g. if the user passed away or entered hospice care). You can only get ResponseLINK's "30 day risk-free money-back guarantee" on service plans paid in advance, not monthly billing, but for many customers that just means a big fight with customer service to actually get their prepaid money back.
Seniors and their caregivers need the best technology combined with excellent customer service and hassle-free billing. ResponseLINK's medical alert systems fall very short in all three of those criteria. We strongly suggest you choose a more customer-friendly service provider.
There are a wide variety of choices when it comes to medical alert systems: some services that have been on the market for many years, and others that are newer to the industry. When shopping around for the right product for yourself or for a loved one, you may find a straightforward, easy-to-use website that clearly explains your options. On the other hand, some companies still rely on pushy sales tactics that won't give you much information unless you speak with a representative.
As you compare the various medical alert systems currently available, there are several aspects to keep in mind:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best medical alert systems on the market today. We hope these reviews give you the information you need to select the medical alert service that will give you or your loved one extra safety and peace of mind.
Each year many sick and elderly people encounter accidents and health issues that needlessly take their lives. Medical alert systems can make all the difference in the world for those living alone and in distress. In an emergency, medical alert units create a direct line of communication to needed assistance. If a person falls or becomes ill they simply press a button on a pendant or wrist transmitter to gain the attention of an emergency specialist. That person will immediately call the authorities to send help if needed. The fear of a loved one waiting hours or even days for assistance is no longer an issue with a medical alert system available.
If this is your first medical alert system purchase you may be looking for help with choosing the right device. Making a well informed decision will ensure you get the most for your money and are satisfied with the end result.
There are several important elements to consider when choosing a medical alert system. Some of these include:
Not all equipment is created equal. The medical alert button needs to be easy to wear and use. Some may want a unit that's water proof and sturdy to handle showers. If hearing is an issue you'll want a unit that is easy to adjust and has adequate volume options. Knowing the size of the home and how far the transmitter will reach is also important. You'll want UL tested equipment with a good history. Look for products with a battery back-up should the power go out. Also look to see how often batteries need to be replaced. Some batteries last a few months while others last for years. Ask about installation and if a professional is required and how much that will cost.
If something happens to the equipment you'll want to make sure it comes with a guarantee. Preferably, the company will replace any broken equipment at no cost. Also look for a company that regularly tests the in home system for good working . Are extended customer support hours available should an issue or question come up about the equipment.
In the event of an emergency you'll want a company that provides fast, top notch service. A monitoring company that utilizes its own employees, and doesn't outsource, will most likely provide the best overall service. One that is accountable and well staffed. Does the monitoring company have back-up power, during outages, and are they UL certified?
Cost and Contracts
All medical alert companies price their equipment and monthly monitoring fees differently. Some will sell you the equipment and then charge a monthly fee while others will allow you to rent the equipment and including the monitoring costs in the monthly charges. Some require a several year contract while others are more flexible. If you decide to cancel the contract early you may encounter an early termination fee. Make sure you understand any fees associated with a medical alert system you're considering.
Select any 2 Medical Alert Systems to compare them head to head