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How much do medical alert systems cost?

The ultimate guide to equipment costs, monitoring fees and more

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Medical alert systems have become essential lifelines for many older adults. They provide a sense of security for the wearer and their loved ones. With a direct line to trained professionals, you can go about your day without worrying about what might happen during an emergency.

Choosing the right medical alert system is a big decision, and cost is a significant consideration for most people. From understanding costs to uncovering hidden expenses and saving money, we'll guide you toward a reliable solution that won’t break the bank.

Key insights

  • Medical alert monthly fees average $38.81 overall.
  • Of the companies that charge for equipment, the average starting cost is $125.
  • Upfront activation fees range anywhere from $0 to $299.

Medical alert system cost factors

To get a clear idea of how much a medical alert system costs overall, think about the fees you need to pay for the equipment, monitoring, activation, installation and other miscellaneous charges. Considering all these factors helps you make an informed decision about the financial impact of your selected system.

Equipment costs: purchase vs. lease

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.

When you lease equipment, there’s no upfront charge for it. If an equipment fee is required, it's often a one-time payment that ranges from $50 to $300, depending on how advanced the system is.

Whether you lease or purchase, it usually costs extra for optional add-on products, like fall detection, GPS tracking, wall buttons and lock boxes. The difference comes down to whether you pay more per month or more upfront (sometimes, it’s both if the company also charges activation or programming fees).

Monitoring fees: $19.95 to $72 per month

If you want 24/7 professional monitoring, expect to pay a monthly fee. The average monthly monitoring fee is $38.81. In-home systems tend to be a little cheaper, ranging from $19.95 to $48 ($32.39 on average). Mobile systems cost $19.95 to $69.95 ($41.88 on average).

The average monthly cost for medical alert monitoring is $38.81.

Some medical alert systems don’t have monthly fees — these do not include professional monitoring. Instead, they connect directly to 911 or someone on your contact list. They are cheaper, but the downsides are that there’s no fall detection and they aren’t considered as reliable.

A few 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
  • If fall detection, GPS and other features are included

Average cost of medical alert systems

We looked at 86 medical alert packages available from 23 companies to calculate the industry averages in 2023.

Average monthly costAverage equipment costAverage activation fee
All medical alert systems $38.81 $119 $43
In-home systems $32.39 $125 $17
Mobile systems $41.88 $114.49 $62

Medical alert price comparison

Companies that don’t charge for equipment lease it to you. You don’t own the devices, and you must return them when your contract ends.

For example, upfront equipment fees apply to a few of Medical Guardian’s systems, including Home 2.0 and MG Move, but the Classic Guardian and Mini Guardian are leased, so there’s no upfront charge for devices. Optional add-ons and upgrades, like fall detection, will almost always add to your monthly bill.

Medical GuardianMedical GuardianADT Medical AlertADT Medical AlertMedical AlertMedical AlertMobileHelpMobileHelpLife Alert Emergency ResponseLife Alert Emergency Response
Monitoring fees $29.95 to $44.95 per month $29.99 to $39.99 per month $19.95-$47.95 $19.95-$54.95 $49.95 to $69 per month
Equipment cost $0 to $199.95 $0 $0 $0 Varies
Activation fee $0 $0 $79 $0-$49.95 $198
Fall detection Yes Yes Available Optional ($10/month) No
Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews

What reviewers say about medical alert costs

Many people feel the cost of a medical alert device is a fair value for the security it provides, and some people noted that several companies give you a discount if you pay quarterly or annually.

“We don't mind paying $150 every three months ... the security on it is worth it,” a customer in New Mexico said.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re allowed to haggle. A customer in Colorado said, “When I talked to the guy, he wanted $20 a month and I said that was not possible for me. He lowered it to $10.”

In some cases, rates could go up by $15 per month or $10 per year.

A customer in Vermont was surprised by some of the fees that showed up on their bill, particularly the $3.50 for check processing: “So, I signed up for automatic. But, that didn't do any good. When they take the money out, they don't seem to charge me. But they don't take the money out every month. They take it out sometimes and not other times, and then I get a regular bill in the mail saying, ‘You owe 60 bucks.’” Understandably, the reviewer is “not thrilled.”

Another in Georgia was surprised by their medical alert company’s equipment policy  — and ended up having to pay $450 for equipment that they lost. 

Most advertise as monthly charges, but it's smart to think about it yearly. A reviewer in Oklahoma had an overall good experience with their medical alert device: “It's a good thing. But for $600 a year, I don't really feel like I need it.”

Hidden fees and other considerations

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

  • Activation fee: 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 — companies that do tend to charge from $50 to $200
  • Shipping fees: This one-time fee covers the cost of shipping equipment to your home. This is sometimes (but not always) 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: Some companies may charge a fee to let caregivers connect with an app to view activity history or real-time device tracking. This service is sometimes included as part of a monitoring package, but not all companies include this in 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.


    Do medical alert systems have to be professionally installed?

    Most medical alert systems are considered plug-and-play, meaning practically no installation is involved. You just remove the equipment from the box, plug it in and then it's ready to use.

    Some companies that offer complex medical alert systems may require professional installation, but this is rare. In 2023, none of the medical alert systems we looked at required professional installation, even for landline systems. Some companies, such as Lifeline, offer this as an optional service for $99. 

    » EXPLORE: Best home care services

    Does insurance cover medical alert systems?

    Some long-term care insurance 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.

    Does Medicare cover medical alert systems?

    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.

    » MORE: Best Medicare supplemental insurance

    Does Medicaid cover medical alert systems?

    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.

    » MORE: Medicare vs. Medicaid

    Are there any free medical alert systems?

    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 can't afford them, though. These resources often vary by location, so check to see what’s available in your area if you’re unable to afford a medical alert system.

    »  MORE: The costs of aging-in-place remodeling

    Bottom line

    Generally speaking, the most affordable type of medical alert system is a basic in-home unit that you connects to 911, friends or family members instead of a monitoring center. 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's 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're more expensive than an in-home-only system.

    Cellular-based mobile medical alert systems 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.

    » COMPARE: Best medical alert systems of 2023

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