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How much do medical alert systems cost?

Average monthly costs are $20 to $60

Profile picture of Danni White
by Danni White ConsumerAffairs Research Team
senior pushing medical alert button

Medical alert systems give you instant access to help when you need it most, but they aren’t free. Some companies have no upfront costs, and ongoing monitoring services average between $20 and $60 per month.

Keep reading to see the various factors that determine the cost of a medical alert system and what the right system might cost you.

What is involved in the cost of a medical alert system?

Calculating the overall cost of a medical alert system involves multiple factors. While manufacturers may only advertise parts of their pricing that make them look good, you should compare their overall costs to make sure the system you choose fits your budget.

To get an accurate picture of how much a medical alert system will cost overall, consider how much you'll pay in equipment fees, monitoring fees, activation fees, installation fees and other miscellaneous charges.

Equipment fees: up to $300

Many medical alert companies do not charge an equipment fee.

Equipment fees are what you pay for the physical products that make up your medical alert system. Basic equipment fees often cover a base unit and a wearable medical alert device, such as a pendant or bracelet. However, the exact equipment you use will vary, depending on the medical alert system you choose and your own needs and preferences.

If an equipment fee is required, it's often a one-time payment that ranges from $50 to $300, based on the system you choose. Separate equipment fees are often required for optional add-on products, like extra sensors or pendants, but their costs vary widely, depending on the product you’re adding.

However, many medical alert companies do not charge an equipment fee. In these cases, you essentially rent the equipment for the length of the monitoring contract, and the cost of the equipment is spread out across your monthly payments.

Monitoring fees: up to $60 per month

Monitoring fees pay for service from emergency responders when your medical alert system is triggered and a monitoring center is notified. Monitoring fees can be charged monthly, quarterly or yearly, and many companies with monitored medical alert systems offer discounts to customers who pay quarterly or annually.

A number of other factors can also determine how much you pay in quarterly, yearly or monthly fees for monitoring, including:

  • How many devices you have connected
  • The type of medical alert devices you use
  • Whether the system is landline- or cellular-based
  • What features are included

Monitoring for landline-based in-home systems often ranges from $20 to $35 per month, but mobile medical alert systems are more expensive. Recurring costs for cellular-based medical alert systems usually range from $30 to $60 per month.

Monitoring isn’t required for all medical alert systems, but those without monitoring are often less sophisticated and can’t cater responses to your situation.

Activation fees: up to $200

An activation fee is a one-time charge that covers the cost of getting started with a medical alert company. Not all companies charge an activation fee, but when activation fees apply, they often range from $50 to $200. Depending on the company, an activation fee is either an upfront cost that needs to be paid before service can start or included as part of your first monthly bill.

Installation fees: optional

Installation fees are what you pay for having a professional, usually someone contracted by the medical alert company, come to your home to set up the system. The installer who comes to your home should set up all the equipment, such as the base station and any sensors, and test the entire system. Agents who install the system should also make sure that all medical alert devices connect to the monitoring center when the help button is pushed.

Typically, installation services are optional. However, companies that offer complex medical alert systems may actually require professional installation.

On the other hand, some medical alert systems are considered “plug-and-play,” which means there's practically no installation involved. You just remove the equipment from the box and plug it in, then it's ready to use.

Average installation fees vary depending on the company and can range from $20 up to $200. Some medical alert system companies offer free installation to new customers, though.

Additional fees

Some of the other fees a medical alert system company may charge include:

  • Shipping fees: This one-time fee covers the cost to ship equipment to your home. Sometimes, but not always, this is included in other upfront fees.
  • Service upgrade fees: Additional features that require ongoing support, such as automatic fall detection, GPS tracking or medication reminders, may cost extra every billing cycle.
  • Caregiver app access fees: This recurring fee allows caregivers to connect with an app to view activity history or real-time device tracking. This service is sometimes included as part of a monitoring package. However, not all companies include this feature as part of their standard services.
  • Replacement equipment fee: This fee may be charged when you’re done with your system if you don't return your rental equipment or if it's returned damaged.
  • Cancellation fee: This fee could be applicable if you choose to cancel before your contract has ended, assuming you have a long-term contract.

Find a Medical Alert System partner near you.

    What is the average monthly cost of a medical alert system?

    On average, medical alert systems cost $20 to $60 per month. However, what you actually pay will vary, depending on:

    • The type of system
    • The type of equipment
    • How many devices are on the system
    • Any add-on features you choose

    Generally speaking, the most affordable type of medical alert system is a basic in-home unit. These medical alert devices tend to be more affordable because they use an existing landline connection to contact help. Basic in-home systems provide coverage within a certain range from the phone jack, but if the device leaves the area, it is unable to call for help.

    Some in-home systems have the option to use a cellular connection instead of a landline. These systems are usually more affordable than a fully mobile system, but they are more expensive than an in-home-only system.

    Mobile medical alert systems that are GPS- or cellular-based are usually the most expensive type. However, they offer the most freedom; as long as there's a connection to the cellular or GPS network and you have your mobile device, you can access help whenever you need it.

    Medical alert systems price comparison

    Comparing costs between companies helps you determine which medical alert system is right for you. Use this price comparison chart to compare equipment fees, installation/activation fees, monthly fees and automatic fall detection fees from six medical alert system companies.

    Equipment feesSetup feesStarting monthly feesAutomatic fall detection fee
    medical guardian logo$0 to $299.95$0$29.95 to $44.95$10 per month
    philips lifeline logo$0 to $99.95$19.95 to $99 for installation;
    $0 to $50 for activation
    $29.95 to $58.95Included
    adt logo$0$0$29.99 to $39.99$10 per month
    lifefone logo$0$0$29.95 to $43.95$5 to $10 per month
    bluestar seniortech logo$0 to $249.95$0$0 to $44.95$0 to $5 per month
    life alert logo$0$198Varies ($69 per month for midrange)Not offered

    Costs accurate as of publishing. Monthly costs do not include discounts for paying in advance.

    medical guardian logo$0 to $299.95$0$29.95 to $44.95$10 per month
    philips lifeline logo$0 to $99.95$19.95 to $99 for installation;
    $0 to $50 for activation
    $29.95 to $58.95Included
    adt logo$0$0$29.95 to $39.99$10 per month
    lifefone logo$0$0$29.95 to $43.95$5 to $10 per month
    bluestar seniortech logo$0 to $249.95$0$0 to $44.95$0 to $5 per month
    life alert logo$0$198Varies ($69 per month for midrange)Not offered

    Medical alert cost FAQ

    Yes, some private insurance policies and Medicare Advantage Plans cover some or all of the cost of a medical alert system. However, coverage may come with certain requirements, like the system being deemed medically necessary or bought from a specific company.

    If you’re concerned about cost, there are a number of financial programs that may be able to help. Many senior centers, cities and states offer programs and grants that can help cover the cost of a medical alert system. Eligibility requirements vary; some programs have income requirements and others have special criteria, such as being a veteran or an established resident of a given area.

    Medicaid varies from state to state, but it may cover some or all of the cost of a medical alert system. In many cases, Medicaid provides coverage for a medical alert system if a health care professional has determined it's medically necessary.

    Many states’ Medicaid programs only cover the cost of a basic medical alert system and plan, though. If you want access to enhanced features, you may need to pay an additional fee. There may also be limits on what systems you can use.

    No, Original Medicare does not provide any coverage for medical alert systems. If Medicare is your primary insurance, you are likely responsible for the full cost of your medical alert system and any accessories. Some medical alert system providers may offer a discount to individuals who are on Medicare, but it's up to the individual company.

    Some Medicare Advantage Plans may cover the cost of a medical alert system, though. Your primary care provider or specialist must determine that the medical alert system is medically necessary to be covered by these plans. Your choice of company, plan and device may also be limited, because Medicare Part C plans often have preferred providers.

    We’re not aware of any medical alert systems that are 100% free to use. Helpful financial resources, such as grants, discounts and aid programs, may be available to individuals who need medical alert systems but cannot afford them, though. These resources often vary locally, so check to see what’s available in your area if you’re unable to afford a medical alert system.

    Bottom line

    The overall cost of a medical alert system can include more than the price of monitoring, so be sure to consider what you’ll pay for add-on features, equipment and installation as you shop. This should help you determine which option is right for your needs and budget. For more shopping advice, learn about the questions to ask a medical alert company before you sign up.

    While a medical alert system may seem expensive, the cost of aging in place is generally less than that of moving into an assisted living facility or a nursing home.

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    Profile picture of Danni White
    by Danni White ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Danni White is committed to providing valuable resources designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions. Danni specializes in content strategy and development, with over a decade of professional writing and research experience.