Best Medical Alert Systems Buyers Guide

The right medical alert system could save your life in an emergency. Put your well-being in good hands with our top medical alert systems.
Written by | Updated April 26, 2019
Best Overall
mobile-help alert system and buttonMobileHelp Duo
  • In-home and on-the-go coverage
  • No contracts
  • In-home and on-the-go coverage
  • No contracts
Runner Up
medical alert systemMedical Guardian Classic Guardian
  • Long range
  • Free equipment
  • Long range
  • Free equipment
Budget Pick
greatcall alert watchGreatCall Lively Wearable
  • Built-in fitness tracker
  • Cheap monthly fees
  • Built-in fitness tracker
  • Cheap monthly fees

When you need an extra lifeline, you want a medical alert system that is easy to use and reliable. And if it doesn’t eat up your monthly budget, that’s a bonus. We compared in-home, mobile, and dual medical alert systems to see which ones offer the best bang for your buck.

Compare Medical Alert Systems

Monthly Fee
Equipment
Connection
Fall Detection
Range
Best Overall
Runner Up
Budget Pick
mobile-help alert system and button medical alert system greatcall alert watch lifefone at home and on the go medical alert equipment adt on the go medical alert equipment bay alarm medical alert pendant and base philips lifeline gosafe equipment angelsense gps tracker device life alert watch and pendant medicalalert ID jewelry
MobileHelp Duo Medical Guardian Classic Guardian GreatCall Lively Wearable LifeFone At Home and On-the-Go ADT On-the-Go Medical Alert Plus Bay Alarm Medical In-Home Medical Alert Phillips Lifeline GoSafe2 AngelSense Life Alert MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®
$41.95/mo. From $29.95/mo. $14.99/mo. $39.95/mo. $33.99/mo. From $19.95/mo. $44.95/mo. From $39.99/mo. From $49/mo N/A
Base Station
Mobile Device
Wrist button or neck pendant
Base station

Water-resistant pendant
Wearable device

Wrist strap

Lanyard
Base station

Mobile unit

Waterproof pendant
Base station

Waterproof pendant
or wristband
Base station

Help button
Medical alert pendant GPS device

3 fasteners

Magnetic Key
Base station

Waterproof pendant
ID jewelry

Emergency wallet card
Cellular Landline Cellular
Bluetooth
Cellular Cellular Landline
Cellular
Cellular Cellular Landline N/A
Add-on Add-on Included Add-on Add-on Add-on Included None None None
350-600 ft. 1,300 ft. Mobile 350-600 ft. 600 ft. 1,000 ft. Mobile Mobile 800 ft. N/A
Visit MobileHelp Visit Medical Guardian Check Price on Amazon Visit Lifefone Visit ADT Visit Bay Alarm Visit Philips Visit AngelSense Visit Life Alert Visit MedicAlert

Best Medical Alarm System Reviews

MobileHelp Duo

The MobileHelp Duo is our top pick because it includes at-home and mobile monitoring. Carry your pendant or wristband wherever you go and call for help if something bad happens. We also like the extra reliability of a cellular connection. If you have a parent who lives alone, you’ll get an alert from MobileHelp if they responded to a call. That way, you can stay on top of your family’s health and rush to their side when they need you. And you never have to worry about long-term contracts. You can stop and start your MobileHelp coverage whenever you like, without any penalties.

Pros

  • Free activation
  • Free shipping
  • No contracts
  • In-home and mobile coverage

Cons

  • Bulky two-piece mobile system
  • No fall detection included

Medical Guardian Classic Guardian

Medical Guardian specializes in medical alert systems. When you sign up for monthly monitoring, you’ll receive a base station and medical alert pendants to wear around your neck. The base unit connects you to the monitoring station. If you need help, you can have a conversation directly through that device. The emergency necklaces don’t work this way—they send an alert for help to the monitoring center. Whoever needs a medical alert device in your home can have a necklace free of charge. They’re water resistant, so you can take them with you into the shower and up to 1,300 feet from the main console.

Pros

  • Long range
  • Free equipment
  • No contracts
  • Savings for yearly subscription

Cons

  • No two-way talk through necklace
  • No mobile use
  • Fall detection requires add-on

GreatCall Lively Wearable

This medical alert device doubles as a fitness tracker. You get both emergency response and daily fitness tracking. We think the GreatCall Lively Wearable is a refreshing alternative to traditional medical alert pendants—especially for people with an active lifestyle. And this is one of just two devices on our list with automatic fall detection included (when you wear it as a medical alert pendant around your neck). Best of all, you get all of this with no long-term contracts and no cancellation fees. After you buy the device (around $60), monthly monitoring fees are just $14.99 per month.

Pros

  • Fitness tracker
  • Mobile app
  • Cheap monthly fees
  • Fall detection included

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Required connection to cell phone

LifeFone At Home and On-the-Go

The LifeFone At Home and On-the-Go transitions easily from in-home to mobile coverage. It comes with a home base and mobile unit, so you can get 24/7 safety monitoring anywhere that has an AT&T cell signal. This medical alert system also comes with GPS tracking, so help can find you if you get lost or disoriented. And if you’re worried about working the monthly monitoring fee into your budget, you’ll only have to adjust your purse strings once. LifeFone offers a lifetime price guarantee so you won’t be surprised by price increases in the future. Plus, you get a free 30-day trial to test it out.

Pros

  • Free 30-day trial
  • Lifetime price guarantee
  • No contracts
  • Free spouse coverage

Cons

  • No call center certifications
  • Fall detection add-on

ADT On-the-Go Medical Alert Plus

You probably recognize ADT as a top home security system provider, but it’s also one of the best medical alert companies out there. With three different medical monitoring systems to choose from, we like its middle tier, ADT On-The-Go Medical Alert Plus. This device has a wireless signal, two-way talk, temperature sensing, and a longer reception range than the basic package. It won’t allow you to run errands (you’ll have to upgrade for that), but it includes everything you need for a quality at-home medical alert monitoring device.

Pros

  • ForeveRate price lock
  • Two-way communication
  • Pendant or wristband options
  • Savings for online orders

Cons

  • No GPS
  • No mobile option

Bay Alarm Medical In-Home Medical Alert

Bay Alarm Medical is ideal for people who like to customize products and services. Since most of its devices are add-ons, you can choose to go with a mobile-only plan, add at-home monitoring, and tack on additional sensors. We like Bay Alarm Medical GPS Monitor because it’s a medical alert system you can take with you. The company advises people against using this as a dual at-home device because it works best when in motion. However, you can add an at-home device for a bundled price of around $49.95 per month.

Pros

  • Two-way talk
  • Multiple call centers
  • 30-day risk-free trial
  • Capability to answer phone calls

Cons

  • No GPS
  • No mobile option

Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2

Philips has been a standout among medical alert companies for more than forty years. To date, Philips has served more than seven million customers. We like this all-in-one GoSafe alert system because you can use it in or out of the house and talk to a response center professional through your wearable pendant—the advanced GPS tracking ensures you’re always in good hands. In fact, GoSafe 2 uses five different tracking technologies to keep its customers safe. Unfortunately, all that high tech comes at a price—this is one of the most expensive systems on our list.  

Pros

  • Automatic fall detection included
  • High-tech GPS
  • Two-way talk
  • In-home and mobile coverage

Cons

  • Expensive monthly fees
  • No wristband option

AngelSense

AngelSense is a revolutionary product for people with different needs. While it was created for children, it can work for people of all ages. AngelSense works with a bracelet/wearable device and an app. When you wear the device, friends and family can monitor your whereabouts and well-being through the mobile app. Some of the features we like include the ability to listen in through the bracelet to hear what’s happening around your loved one. This comes in handy if your parent or family member has a caretaker that you want to ensure is administering proper care. You may also use the app to set boundaries and get an alert if the person travels outside this area. If your loved one tends to wander, this device can trace their whereabouts and save the day.

Pros

  • GPS tracker
  • Listen-in feature
  • Updates every 10 seconds
  • Safety zone settings

Cons

  • Expensive price
  • Unsophisticated design

Life Alert®

If you’ve fallen and you can’t get up, this is the brand that comes to mind. Thanks to its catchy tagline, Life Alert is one of the most recognized names when it comes to medical alert companies. This easy-to-use system is ideal for people who need only a basic medical alert service. To call for help, all you need to do is push the emergency button. The button can be worn as a pendant or a bracelet, and it’s 100% waterproof. While the service connects you to help, it doesn’t have GPS tracking and there is no mobile monitoring option. For basic service, it’s a little pricey, but Life Alert stands on its reputation and solid customer service, which includes an in-home orientation when you first get started.

Pros

  • In-home setup and orientation
  • Long range
  • 10-year battery
  • Four-person accomodation

Cons

  • Landline only
  • Pricey cost

MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®

Although not a traditional medical alert device, we thought this specialized pendant still deserved a spot on our list. The national Alzheimer’s patient database works much like an Amber Alert. If your parent or relative has Alzheimer’s or dementia and goes missing, you can report it, and a notification will be released to local law enforcement and emergency services. When you purchase a membership, you’ll receive an ID bracelet that will help others identify the person wearing it and help reunite them with family or caregivers. People with cognitive impairment can easily become disoriented, confused, and lost, so this service is a safety net in case that happens.

Pros

  • 24/7 hotline
  • Wearable ID bracelet
  • Personal health record info attached
  • Law enforcement connection

Cons

  • No monthly monitoring
  • No location tracking

Things to Consider in a Medical Alert System

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for individuals’ needs, and medical alert systems should reflect that. To find your perfect emergency response system match, you should look at what you need and the type of support you want.

Specialty Settings

Some medical alert systems are designed with specific needs in mind. There are voice-activated alarms for people with dexterity challenges and other medical alerts that use motion detectors to automatically call for help in the event of a fall.

Two-Way Communication

Not all medical alert devices offer two-way talk. If the added comfort of speaking with an operator is important to you, make sure the medical alert system you choose has this feature.

Battery Backup

You don’t want to worry about a dead battery when you need help. Make sure the medical alarm system you rely on has battery backup so that it can work even during a power outage.

Range and GPS

Some medical alert buttons will work only in your home, providing coverage for a 300-foot radius on average. If you want to be covered for shopping trips—or even when you’re out in your yard—look for a system with broader range. An alert system that uses GPS can increase mobility and make it easier for emergency personnel to pinpoint your location when it counts.

Monitoring Services

There can be a difference between companies that operate their own monitoring center and those that outsource support to a generalized call center. Companies with their own monitoring centers have faster access to customer records and emergency responders who are specially trained to address the needs of medical alert system clients.

Wearable Options

Medical alert buttons are typically worn in a wristband or as a pendant around the neck. Which style you choose can be more than a matter of personal preference. Consider the strangulation risk of a neck pendant—although it’s a small risk, it can still be worrisome if you use a walker, wheelchair, or bed guardrails.

Cost

Many emergency response systems come with monthly service or usage fees in addition to the initial cost of the device. Be sure you understand the monthly cost before committing to a medical alert system—and ask if the company offers any specials or discounts on equipment when you sign up for monthly monitoring.

More Medical Alert Options

Maybe you don’t want a full-blown medical alert system, or maybe you want to augment the system you already have. We found these medical alert devices worth mentioning for people with diverse monitoring needs and for the caregivers who make sure they stay safe.

Best for Keeping Tabs at Home
Best for Discrete Monitoring On-the-Go
Best for Monitoring Falls from Bed
Smart Caregiver Call Buttons and Wireless Pager Ripple 24/7 Personal Safety Monitor Wireless Bed Alarm
smart caregiver call button pendant ripple 24-7 keychain wireless bed alarm
Extra freedom for those providing 24-hour care
Affordable prices
Loud alarm
Bluetooth connection
Affordable monthly monitoring
Easy attachment to keychain or clothing
Bluetooth connection
Affordable monthly monitoring
Easy attachment to keychain or clothing
Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon

Medical Alarm System FAQs

How do medical alert systems work?

A medical alert system keeps you connected to help 24/7. If you experience a medical emergency like a fall or heart attack, a medical alert system makes it easy for you to get the help you need. Most medical alarm systems activate at the touch of a button, but others can detect a fall and automatically send out a distress signal.

Once your alert system is activated, you are connected to an operator at a monitoring center who assesses the situation and sends the help you need. Many medical alert systems also contact designated family or friends so you won’t be alone.

Are medical alert systems covered by insurance?

In most cases, medical alert systems are not covered by health insurance or Medicare. But you may be able to get some or all of the cost of a medical alert covered by long-term care insurance.

Because long-term care insurance is devoted exclusively to helping people remain in their homes, a senior alert system may qualify as an in-home care service. As with all medical coverage, it’s best to consult your insurance provider for a definitive answer about whether or not your medical alarm system could be covered.

When should I consider getting a medical alert system?

Every eleven seconds, an adult age 65 or older goes to the emergency room because of a fall. Falls are the number one cause of fatal injury among older Americans, racking up $50 billion in fall-related medical costs in 2015.1

Falls are one of the most common reasons people consider getting a medical alert system—but they’re not the only reason. Other considerations include getting older, living alone, or living with certain medical conditions such as diabetes. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer about when to add a medical alert system to your personal safety plan, but there are a few guidelines that may help.

First of all, listen to your gut. If you feel the need for an extra lifeline to help, don’t ignore it. Your peace of mind is important, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. Other factors that may signal it’s time to look at a medical alert system include changes in mobility, balance, memory, or eyesight. But your decision doesn’t have to be related to changing health. Medical alarms also make sense for anyone who regularly hikes alone, and they can help keep track of children and others who are prone to wandering.

Our Approach

We selected the best medical alert systems after thorough research and interviews with real customers. We also dug into industry standards and both expert and customer reviews. After examining more than twenty different medical alert systems and products, we identified the top ten based on price, reliability, comfort, ease of use, extra features, and customer satisfaction. See our full rankings methodology to learn more.

15 hours researched
3 customer interviewed
23 products considered
650+ customer reviews read
8 coffees consumed

Sources:

1. National Council on Aging, “Falls Prevention Facts

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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