Are Medical Alert Systems Covered by Medicare?

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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, Medicare doesn't cover medical alert systems like Life Alert

Medicare isn't your only option, though. Medicaid recipients 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.

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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:

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

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Image: Matthias Zomer, Pexels

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
  • Diabetes
  • Neuropathy
  • Cardiac arrhythmia 
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Dementia 
  • Loss of muscle mass

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.

Does the VA pay for medical alert systems?

Yes, they do. Veterans can work with the VA to receive a free medical alert system. To get started, you will need to visit your VA for more information.

How do I get medical alert system discounts?

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 

Are there medical alert systems covered by Medicare? 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.

For more, check out our picks for the best medical alert systems.

FAQs

Does Tricare cover medical alert systems?

No, there aren't any special provisions for medical alert systems through Tricare. 

Is a medical alert tax deductible?

Since so much depends on your circumstances, it's best to ask a tax professional or use the IRS's Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA). If you do find a qualifying expense category, keep in mind that it only benefits you to deduct it from your taxes if the total amount of all your itemized medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Plus, the device must be prescribed by your doctor.

There's a lot to consider, so make sure you hire a qualified tax pro. 

How can I get a medical alert system for free?

Our best advice is to ask your local assistive technology program if they loan out medical alert devices. Your local Area Agency on Aging may also be able to help.

Is Life Alert covered by Medicare?

Does Medicare pay for Life Alert? Yes and no. If you only have Medicare Parts A and B, Life Alert is not covered. It may be covered through Part C (Medicare Advantage plans) through private insurance companies.


Compare the best medical alert systems

Brand
Best for
Lowest monthly price
In-home range
Backup battery
Landline option available
Learn more
Read review
Best overall1000 ft.32 hrs.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best GPS tracking options1300 ft.32 hrs.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best value1300 ft.32 hrs.
Icon No  LightNo
Best for fall detection400 ft.Not available
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best at-home system1,300 ft.32 hrs.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best basic system1400 ft.24 hrs.
Icon Yes  LightYes

Data as of post date. Offers and availability subject to change.

Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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