Can You Get Free Medical Alert Systems?

Key Takeaways

  • Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of medical alert systems. Medicaid may offer coverage for medical alert systems, but coverage varies from state to state.
  • Medicare Advantage Plans may cover the cost of medical alert systems, but it’s unlikely. 
  • Other options for free or low-cost medical alert systems include Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits, local hospitals or medical providers, local non-profits and senior assistance agencies.
Unrecognizable senior man pushing panic button on emergency equipment for elderly people, cropped. Closeup of man's hand pressing alarm button for emergency hung on his chest

Free Medical Alert Systems: What You Need To Know

medical alert system can help put your mind at ease, whether it’s purchased for yourself or for a loved one. However, many medical alert systems come with recurring monthly costs and other fees for things like activation and installation that can make them unaffordable for some.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion about insurance coverage for these types of devices. People assume that the devices are automatically covered because medical alert systems are medically-adjacent. However, original Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of these systems.

Thankfully, options still exist for people seeking free or low-cost medical alert systems. Because coverage depends on your insurance provider and the state where you live, you’ll need to do some legwork to get information about possible coverage for medical alert systems.

How to Get a Free Medical Alert System

Here are a few ideas to consider if you’re wanting a free or low-cost medical alert system.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

couple meeting for insurance

If you have private health insurance, your first step should be to contact your provider to ask about coverage for medical alert systems.

It’s always a good idea to contact your insurer before you make any purchases. Many providers have specific claim requirements, and you may need authorization or approval to confirm the coverage amount. Buying your system before getting approval may nullify any potential reimbursement.

Also, many private insurers don’t provide coverage for medical alert systems. Regarding this issue, Lindsay Malzone, Medicare expert at Medigap, said, “A few do, but it’s not common.”

Long-term care insurance is your best bet for getting coverage for this type of device coverage–and coverage for other care needs–as you get older.

Standout box: In Michigan, people with auto no-fault insurance are covered for personal emergency response systems (PERS) in the event they become victims of a car accident. However, the coverage doesn’t apply to other situations, like ongoing home care unrelated to a car accident. Other states may also have this type of coverage tied to auto insurance. Still, again, it won’t help you with medical alert system coverage that’s unrelated to post-car accident care.

Medicare

medicare

Medicare is a federal insurance program that provides coverage to people age 65 or over, young disabled people, and people on dialysis.

There’s a lot of confusion about Medicare coverage, which Malzone explained is partly because people confuse Medicare with Medicaid. Original Medicare, which is a comprised of Part A and Part B, doesn’t provide coverage for medical alert systems.

Malzone further explained that people may assume that medical alert systems are covered because they fall under the category of durable medical equipment. However, while Medicare Part B covers durable medical equipment, medical alert systems are not covered as medical devices.

Because medical alert systems aren’t diagnostic or treatment devices, Medicare doesn’t typically offer coverage for them.

Some Part C plans, also known as Medicare Advantage plans, may offer coverage for medical alert systems. These plans are offered by Medicare-approved private insurers.

However, Part C plans vary from state to state, so it’s crucial to get in touch with your plan administrator and confirm if you have coverage. It’s also uncommon for Part C plans to cover these types of devices.

“Be very cautious if you are told or hear that Medicare Advantage plans may cover the costs of medical alert devices. Yes, Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t, but it’s very limited,” Malzone explained.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Medicare coverage areas:

Part A
OverviewHospitalization insurance
Coverage for Medical Alert SystemNo
Part B
OverviewMedical insurance
Coverage for Medical Alert SystemNo
Part C Or Medicare Advantage
OverviewBundled plans offered by Medicare-approved private providers. They include Part A, Part B, and often Part D coverage. Some plans also provide additional coverage for things like vision, dental, etc.
Coverage for Medical Alert SystemPossibly, but unlikely
Part D
OverviewPrescription drug coverage
Coverage for Medical Alert SystemNo
Medigap
OverviewMedicare supplement insurance is offered by private insurance companies to supplement original Medicare coverage. You cannot have both a Medicare Advantage and Medigap plan.
Coverage for Medical Alert SystemNo

Medicaid

Medicaid scaled

Medicaid is intended for low-income individuals, regardless of their age.

According to Malzone, Medicaid programs may cover medical alert systems, but it depends on where you live, since programs vary from state to state.

The best way to find out more about your coverage is to contact your state Medicaid agency.

VA

Department of Veteran Affairs Logo

Veterans have two options when it comes to medical alert system coverage: LiveLife and MedEquip Alert.

LiveLife

This program provides LiveLife mobile medical alert systems to senior veterans who may be at risk of falling. Pressing the emergency button connects the person in trouble with up to five loved ones. You can also program 911 as a contact.

You can purchase one of these devices through a Veteran’s Administration hospital or another health care provider. Qualifying people can get reimbursed through the VA. However, in order to qualify for coverage, a medical professional needs to attest that you’re at risk of falling and need the device.

MedEquip Alert

This is another option for senior veterans. MedEquip Alert is a personal medical alert system that connects individuals to an operator in an emergency. The device also shows the person’s whereabouts–without requiring Wi-Fi or a landline–so that emergency services can be dispatched to the right location.

It’s free for senior veterans and can be ordered directly from the company by phone, or through a VA hospital, occupational therapist, or primary care physician.

Contact A Local Hospital

Hospital Logo

”Some hospitals or local doctors’ offices may have the financial resources to help with the cost of medical alert systems,” Malzone said. In some cases, they may partner with device manufacturers to offer discounts to older adults in need.

Contact Local Non-Profits

Senior Health Insurance

While some people may be able to secure coverage for medical alert systems if they qualify as senior veterans or have coverage through a private insurance plan, it can be challenging to find free or low-cost options. However, some local non-profits may be able to help.

Veterans Organizations

Veterans organizations may be able to provide financial assistance to help with the cost of medical alert devices, or they may be able to help you with securing VA coverage.

Senior Assistance Agencies

Local non-profits that cater to the needs of older adults may be able to help you navigate your insurance coverage. Some may even have financial assistance programs to help with this sort of purchase.

Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), now called USAging, is an organization that helps older adults and disabled people live life to the fullest. Some AAA branches may have programs available that provide free medical alert systems. Contact your local AAA to find out how it can help.

Contact Medical Alert Providers

Asian man receive phone call from customer and stay in counter service area of automotive or garage shop with other worker work in the background

Ask providers directly about potential discounts or programs the company may have in place for low-income individuals. 

For example, your provider may be able to waive additional fees for things like activation or installation costs. 

Also, speaking of extra fees: When purchasing a medical alert system, be aware that they often come with added costs that may not be obvious. This is where you have to look at the fine print. A few fees to look out for in particular include:

  • Activation fees
  • Extra costs for feature add-ons (e.g., fall detection)
  • Shipping costs
  • Installation fees
  • Service and repair costs
  • Long-term contract fees that may change at a moment’s notice
  • Cancellation fees

4 Options When You Don’t Qualify for a Free Medical Alert System

If you’ve exhausted all of the above options, here are a few additional ways to potentially save money on the cost of a medical alert system:

  • Look for low-cost medical alert systems, like those offered by Bay Alarm Medical.
  • Opt for no-monthly-fee medical alert systems without long-term contracts, like Medical Guardian’s devices. 
  • Ask a tax professional about whether your medical alert system is tax-deductible.
  • Check with friends and family to see if they have any referral discount codes they can offer you.

Bottom Line

It may be difficult for some people to secure coverage for medical alert systems, but if you’re a qualifying veteran, you’re eligible for free devices through the VA. While Medicare doesn’t cover medical alert systems, Medicare Advantage plans may provide coverage, although it’s unlikely. People on Medicaid can also contact their local office to find out about potential coverage for these types of devices.

If you can’t secure coverage with insurance, you may be able to ask medical alert system manufacturers directly about discount offerings they may provide for individuals with lower incomes. Other options include getting in touch with local medical professionals or hospitals, non-profits, or senior organizations. You can also ask family and friends if they have any discount codes they can share. 

Ultimately, it’s crucial to get in touch with any insurance provider, who can provide you with the specific information regarding your status, instead of just assuming you have coverage.

Why You Can Trust Us 

You deserve the best products for a better quality of life. We strive to create honest, helpful reviews backed by firsthand shopping, testing, and research. Our content is medically reviewed and unbiased to help you choose the right medical alert system for you or your loved one. 

From over 1,000 hours of research, we chose 11 of the top brands we believe are the best medical alert systems on the market today. We did the following throughout our research process: 

  • Consulted with geriatricians and adult caregivers
  • Mystery shopped the brands
  • Surveyed medical alert system users
  • Tested various medical alert systems
  • Interviewed experts in the field
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties, such as Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot

Frequently Asked Questions

Original Medicare doesn’t cover medical alert systems. In some rare situations, you may have coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan.

WRITTEN BY

Steph Coelho is a health writer and editor based in Montreal, Canada, who has a passion for health and wellness and an intimate knowledge of living with a chronic illness. She has bylines with Healthline, Everyday Health, and Medical News Today. You can find her on Twitter.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Jenny is an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner in NYC with a passion for working with aging adults and their family members. Prior to her clinical training at Vanderbilt School of Nursing, she worked in business and medical research at Harvard Business School and Massachusetts General Hospital. As a Caregiving Coach at Givers, Jenny helps family members manage the financial, emotional, and educational stresses of caring for their loved ones who are aging in place.