Life Alert Medical Alert System Review

Life Alert is one of the first and best-selling medical alert systems on the market. But the medical alert industry has boomed in recent years, and there are many more options on the market now. Find out if Life Alert is the right system for you.

Life Alert Medical

2/5
  • Easy-to-use system
  • Large waterproof alert button
  • GPS tracking available
  • 24/7 dispatchers in US-based centers

About Life Alert

On the market since 1987, Live Alert is one of the original medical alert companies. Its trademark saying, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” practically defined the industry. Life Alert is a good, basic alert system for people who live alone or may need emergency services but may not be able to reach a phone.

In an emergency, you activate the system by pressing a button on the Life Alert pendant that’s worn as a bracelet or watch. You’ll be connected with a dispatcher who will assess the nature of the emergency and send the appropriate help—either calling a family member or emergency responders. The pendant is synced to a base station that you put in a central area of your home and allows you up to an 800-foot range. The pendant is completely waterproof and can be worn day and night with no need to charge it for up to ten years. There is also a shower button mounted to the shower wall that can be pushed if an accident happens in the bathtub.

Pricing and Plans

Life Alert’s website shows that it offers a medical alert service for your cellphone or smartphone, but when we spoke with a rep on the phone, they said that service is no longer available. In fact, we found that a lot of information on the website isn’t accurate. And the most basic information—on plans and pricing—isn’t offered. 

The only way you can get pricing information is to call the 1-800 number and speak with a salesperson. On our first attempt to get pricing information, we were mailed a pamphlet, which actually had none of the pricing or plan info we requested. It was simply a hard copy of what’s on the website.

If you do not want a pamphlet, you’ll be referred to another 1-800 number where you can speak to a “plan specialist.”  This is another salesperson who will insist on taking down your name, number, and email address.

This lack of transparent information and the lengthy sales process is a major reason we rated Life Alert only 2 out of 5 stars. Not only is this remarkably inconvenient, it also seems to work directly against their goal of making help easier to access.

Pendant-Only Plan With GPS or Shower Button With GPS and Shower Button
Monthly Cost $49 $69 $89
Start-Up Fee $96 $96 $198
Fall Detection No No No
Car Breakdown Service No With GPS Yes
Away-from-Home Guidance No With GPS Yes

*According to Life Alert, prices may vary based on geographic location. These prices were determined through a call to the Life Alert customer service line.

Pros

  • It Can Accommodate up to 4 People
    For an extra $10 per month, per person, you can add more people onto your plan as long as they’re at the same address.
  • Start-Up Fee Includes Personalized Setup and Orientation
    Activation fees are expensive, but they include a specialist who will come to your house, set up the system, and test it to make sure it works correctly.

Cons

  • Long Sales Call
    We spent upwards of twenty minutes on a call with a sales representative before we got any prices. The total call was over thirty minutes, and we were told a few anecdotes about people who died from using a different medical alert device. Sales tactics like this can definitely have a negative emotional effect on someone. While we weren’t pressured to buy anything during that call, it was a hard sell sales call, and lower price options were only given when we specifically and repeatedly asked for information.
  • Nontransparent Information
    When we called Life Alert and spoke with customer service, they said the lack of information on the website is due to different pricing systems for different parts of the country. While this makes sense on one level, there are plenty of options for a website to show you information based on where you’re accessing it from or where you live. The lack of info on their website is a major hurdle to working with the company.
  • Expensive Price
    The prices quoted to us were all much higher than competitors like LifeFone and Bay Alarm Medical.

Features and Usability

Life Alert is fairly simple to use but lacks features that other medical alert systems offer in basic plans.

Pros

  • Waterproof Pendant
    It’s great that the Life Alert pendants are completely waterproof since falls or other emergencies are likely to happen in bathrooms, and especially showers.
  • US-Based Monitoring Centers
    We like that all the dispatchers you talk to are located in the US to facilitate easy, clear communication.
  • Long-Lasting Battery
    These pendants have some of the longest lasting batteries on the market—they stay charged for ten years. Since they don’t need to be charged, they can be worn around-the-clock for easy access to help any time of the day or night.

Cons

  • Lacking Extra Features
    Other leaders in the medical alert industry, like Bay Alarm Medical and Philips Lifeline, offer monitoring services like automatic fall detection as an included or add-on feature. Life Alert doesn’t offer automatic fall detection, and it also doesn’t include other options like medication reminders, spouse monitoring, or caregiver alerts.

FAQs

Why can’t I get price information on Life Alert’s website?

Life Alert does not give any pricing or plan information on its website. When we talked with representatives from the company, they said this was because their pricing and plan options change depending on where you live. Unfortunately, you’ll have to call the company directly to get an accurate quote.

Does Life Alert offer fall detection?

Life Alert does not offer fall detection. But because of the long-lasting battery life, many customers simply wear the device around-the-clock and push the emergency button if they fall.

The Life Alert mobile app is free. Can I use it if I am not a Life Alert subscriber?

No. The app can be downloaded and installed on your smartphone for free, but you will not be able to use it unless you are a current customer of Life Alert.

Is Life Alert covered by my health insurance?

Most insurance plans will not directly cover medical alert systems, although most companies will recommend that you call your insurance directly to find out if they will reimburse you for part of the cost.

Will Medicare cover Life Alert?

Medicare Part B plans (the most common plan for medical needs) also do not cover medical alert systems like Life Alert. Some Medicare Advantage plans might offer medical alert options, but it’s best to speak directly to a Medicare representative to find out for sure.

The Bottom Line

Life Alert isn’t a bad option, but it also isn’t the best on the market. It’s worth looking into other companies to see which ones have more features and options for the cost of your monthly subscription. We recommend checking out Bay Alarm Medical or LifeFone.

Pros

  • Waterproof pendant and shower button
  • Plans that can accommodate up to 4 users
  • Reputation as an industry leader

Cons

  • Expensive cost
  • Very few options for add-on features
  • No transparent pricing information

How We Evaluated Life Alert Medical Alert System

We evaluated Life Alert by combing through the company’s website, reading user reviews online and on the mobile app, and speaking directly with several representatives from the company. For more information, see our methodology.

Written by Laura E. Hilton

Laura is a writer, teacher, and mother based out of Utah. She is passionate about making and maintaining strong, safe, healthy communities. To learn more, visit her website at lauraehilton.com. Learn more

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