Does Medicare Cover Life Alert?September 23, 2019
Many people remember the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” commercials from the ‘80s and ‘90s and laugh, but those ads actually sold a useful product called a medical alert system or personal emergency response system (PERS).
Life Alert, who currently owns the trademark to the phrase, is just one medical alert system on the market today. With the press of a button, you can call for help when you need it most!
If you have Medicare insurance you may want to know, “Does Medicare cover Life Alert or any other medical alert system?” The answer may be complicated.
Does Medicare Cover Life Alert Wristbands?
Usually, a medical alert system comes in the form of a pendant button that’s worn around the neck. The system has a base station that communicates with the pendant to call emergency medical staff. The systems can also be wristbands or speakerphones.
Original Medicare does not cover Life Alert wristbands or any other medical alert system, but there may be other ways to receive private Medicare insurance coverage or discounts on personal emergency response systems.
Some private insurance plans called Medicare Advantage plans can cover medical alert devices. Medicare Advantage plans offer all the benefits of Original Medicare with the ability to offer coverage for additional services such as hearing, vision, dental, and other supplemental benefits!
If your Medicare plan doesn’t cover PERS, Medicaid as well as specific long-term care insurance policies may cover certain personal emergency response system costs in some states.
Life Alert Systems for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles
A medical alert system may provide peace of mind to someone who lives alone. For example, your caregiver may not be with you 24 hours a day. If you fall, you might not be able to reach a phone to ask for help. Some medical alert systems have a fall detection feature so the system can call for help if you take a tumble.
Medical Alert System Features
Every medical alert system can call for emergency services, but some offer additional features including:
- Fall detection and/or prevention: According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of “injury and death in older Americans.” Some medical alert systems offer a fall detection feature for an additional fee.
- Health monitoring: Along with alerting emergency help, some personal emergency response systems can monitor health vitals, such as blood pressure and pulse, and can even send medication reminders.
- GPS tracking: This service can be extremely helpful if you or your loved one is on-the-go. With a Global Positioning System (GPS), emergency responders can find the person who wears it no matter where they end up.
- Activity tracking: Much like a Fitbit, some medical alert devices can track your activity inside or outside the home. Some include a built-in step counter and health challenges to keep you moving.
- Daily check-in services: Some devices offer a check-in feature either with a live person or electronically.
- Home security monitoring: Falls aren’t the only type of emergency. Some medical alert devices can alert emergency services in the event of fire, smoke and/or carbon monoxide.
Specific Medical Alert Systems and Their Features
To give you a better idea of what devices have certain features, here are five popular medical alert systems and their features:
- Bay Alarm Medical: This device features 24-hour monitoring, a one thousand foot range for home devices, a waterproof pendant with 36-hour battery life, and offers landline, cellular, and GPS options with automatic fall detection.
- Life Alert: This medical alert system offers options for landline, cellular, and GPS service, 24-hour monitoring, and batteries that last up to 10 years and do not need charging.
- Medical Alert: This personal emergency response device features automatic fall detection with all systems, 24-hour monitoring, landline or cellular systems, a GPS option, and a lockbox option.
- Medical Guardian: This PERS features a lockbox, 24-hour monitoring, a 1,300 foot range, and waterproof pendants with a 72-hour backup battery.
- MobileHelp: This device features 24-hour monitoring, waterproof help buttons, a GPS option, and two-way voice communication. MobileHelp does not require a landline to use its product.
What to Consider When Looking for a Medical Alert System
Consider your lifestyle and your needs when you look for a personal emergency response system. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I wear the device, and is it comfortable? If your device has sharp edges or it can irritate your skin, you may want to find a different option.
- How far can I go with the device? Some devices are only meant for the home. If you go outside the device’s range, say one thousand feet, it may not work. Other devices can connect to a smartphone so you can contact emergency support if you leave your house and can’t reach your phone.
- How durable is the device? You want a device that can handle the demands of your day-to-day life. You want a device that won’t break when you need it most.
- How long does the battery last? Consider the device’s battery life and how you charge the device. Find out how long it takes to charge and how to know when the battery is low.
- How easy is it to set up? If your device is too complicated to set up and use effectively, then it’s not providing a useful service. Also, find out if the device will require technology updates, and if those updates happen automatically or if you’ll have to manage them.
- Does it come with a lockbox? Some companies install a lockbox so emergency responders can enter your home if you’re incapacitated. The lockbox can help keep your home safe while letting emergency personnel do their jobs.
- Can my caregiver or family members connect to the device? Some medical alert systems allow your caregivers and/or family members to connect to the device. Ask yourself if that’s something you need.
- How long does it take for someone to respond? In an emergency, someone should respond in a matter of seconds. Sometimes waiting longer than that can make a huge difference in your recovery.
- Does the company have good customer service? Find out if the response center staff receive adequate training and if they can talk to your loved one in their preferred language. Also, you may have to speak to someone if it’s not an emergency. Learn about the company’s tech support and how to ask questions about their service and the device itself.
How Much Is Life Alert?
Medical alert systems aren’t free. With most systems, you’ll pay a monthly fee of about $25-$50 a month, plus an initial installation fee.
Be sure to read the fine print. If you do have to sign a contract, find out what it takes to leave the contract. For example, some companies will void the contract if you enter a nursing home.
Find Personal Emergency Response System Coverage
Even though Original Medicare does not cover Life Alert or any other medical alert system, a licensed agent with Medicare Plan Finder may be able to help you find coverage. Our agents are highly trained and they can help you see what plans are available in your area, and they can help you select the best one for you. Call 833-438-3676 or contact us here today.