Are Medical Alert Systems Covered by Medicare?

If you or a loved one needs a medical alert system, your device may be covered by a private insurer or Medicare Part C.

But in most cases, medical alert systems like Life Alert aren't covered by Medicare. 

Medicaid recipients, on the other hand, may be eligible for funding that can pay for a medical alert service. AARP members can receive discounts from Philips Lifeline, and veterans may be eligible for free medical alert systems through branded programs like Live Life.

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Does Medicare cover medical alert systems? 

No, not usually.

Original Medicare (Part A and B) won’t cover your medical alert device, but Part C (also called the Medicare Advantage Plan) might through the right private company.

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What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal program designed to help aging Americans over 65, those under 65 who have received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

This complex system is divided into several parts that cover hospital costs, doctor visits, prescription drugs, and medical devices like wheelchairs.

Parts of Medicare coverage

Medicare is a four-part system divided into Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D.

Medical alert systems covered by Medicare generally fall under Part C rather than Part A or Part B. Here’s a quick overview to help you get a better understanding of each:

  • Part A covers hospital, hospice, and some nursing facility costs. 
  • Part B is medical insurance. 
  • Part C combines Part A and Part B but is available through private insurance. 
  • Part D covers prescription drugs. 

Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage Plans

Original Medicare is made of Part A and Part B coverage, while Medicare Advantage Plans are Part C.1

You can add Part D to Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan if you need to cover prescription drug costs.

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Organization determination

Medicare Advantage Plans usually don’t cover medical alert systems, but you can request an “organization determination.” An organization determination can amend your policy if your need for a medical alert system is great enough.1

Can Medicaid cover my medical alert system costs? 

Medicaid helps low-income Americans cover medical costs with funding from state and federal governments. It’s different from Medicare and can vary from state to state.

Medicaid may cover the cost of a medical alert service with a 1915(c) waiver, also called a Home and Community Based Services waiver. Other Medicaid waivers also exist, as do funding programs like Personal Care Attendant (PCA) programs and Consumer Directed Services.

Because each state governs its own Medicaid programs, there's no way to give an easy, across-the-board answer about whether medical alert systems are covered by Medicaid. Medical alert systems in Wisconsin will have different coverage than those in Florida, for example.

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Look up Medicaid coverage in your state

Visit Medicaid.gov to look up coverage options in your state. 

Another point of confusion involves the terminology used by Medicaid. If you read documents hoping to find a mention of medical alert systems, fall detection devices, or Life Alert and other brands, you'll come up empty-handed. 

Instead, Medicaid programs use the phrase Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) to refer to medical alarms. 

Can private insurance cover my medical alert system?

In some cases, yes, private insurance may cover medical alarms for seniors and other at-risk individuals. But it depends on your insurance provider.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, your private insurance company might cover your medical alert device or service out of necessity. But you’ll need at least a doctor’s note to prove your need for one.

For older adults prone to falling injuries, a medical alert device with automatic fall detection can be a lifesaver. Ask your doctor if this is a risk for you.

These conditions increase your risk for falling injuries:2

  • Visual impairments
  • Neuropathy
  • Cardiac arrhythmia 
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Dementia 
  • Parkinson’s disease

Learn about how to prevent falls in your home and avoid injuries as you or your loved one ages.

Does AARP have a medical alert system?

AARP does not have its own medical alert system or endorse any particular brand. However, AARP members and veterans may be eligible for discounts from particular brands or medical alert companies.

  • Philips Lifeline offers AARP members a 15% discount on monthly monitoring services, free shipping, and free activation.
  • Veterans can work with their healthcare provider to receive a Live Life Personal Mobile Alarm.

When you find a medical alert system that works for you or your loved one, call to order and ask the medical alert provider about any discounts. They will vary from company to company, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Final word 

Unfortunately, Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers don’t usually cover medical alert systems. But there are exceptions. If you have a medical condition that makes these devices a necessity, you may get partial coverage.

Thankfully, there are affordable medical alert companies out there, and many medical alert companies offer discounts and free devices.

For many aging Americans, a medical alert system isn’t a necessity. But these devices can send help quickly in a scary situation. If you or your loved one is prone to falling, getting lost, or other medical emergencies, a medical alert device is worth purchasing.


Compare the best medical alert systems

Best overallBest valueBest for fall detectionBest for customizationBest for active lifestyles
Brand
Bay Alarm Medical
GetSafe medical alert systemGetSafe
Philips HomeSafe StandardPhilips LifeLine
Medical Guardian Classic Guardian systemMedical Guardian
mobile-help alert system and buttonMobileHelp
Lowest monthly price
In-home range1000 ft.1300 ft.400 ft.1300 ft.1400 ft.
Backup battery32 hours32 hoursNot available32 hoursNot available
Landline option available
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Multiple wearable options
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Learn more
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Data effective 05/13/2021. Offers and availability subject to change.

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
As a renter, pet-owner, and woman living alone, Katie McEntire takes safety seriously. She’s tested devices like pet cameras, home security systems, and GPS trackers in her own home and devices in the name of safety. In addition to testing, writing, and reviewing for SafeWise, she also makes videos for the site’s YouTube channel. She’s been featured on publications like TechGuySmartBuy, Forbes, Healthy Moms, and Digital Care. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She’s held previous writing positions at Overstock.com and Top Ten Reviews.

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