Table of Contents
Written By: Rachel Lustbader
Page Reviewed / Updated – 4/15/2021

When shopping for a medical alert device for yourself or a loved one, you have an ever-increasing number of companies from which to choose. However, the quality of the systems and their price points can vary significantly between different companies. We took a look at 15 of the major medical alert companies and ranked them based on affordability, so you know which companies provide high-quality systems at the most reasonable prices.

Our research found that MobileHelp, Medical Alert, and Bay Alarm Medical offer the most affordable medical alert systems. All three companies help customers keep costs low with minimal startup fees and some of the industry’s lowest monthly monitoring costs. Other standout companies include LifeFone, Medical Guardian, and QMedic.

The Best Medical Alert Systems

  1. MobileHelp: 10.0
  2. Medical Alert: 9.7
  3. Bay Alarm Medical: 9.5
  4. QMedic: 8.3
  5. LifeFone: 7.6
  6. Medical Care Alert: 7.4
  7. Medical Guardian: 7.0
  8. Alert1: 6.5
  9. LifeStation: 5.9
  10. ResponseNow: 5.3
Did You Know?

Seniors and their family members are eligible for free quotes for medical alert systems including ones with fall detection. Start here.

An Overview of Our Ranking Methodology

Our rankings are based on the following core metrics, each of which made up a percentage of every company’s final score:

  • Starting Costs (10%): Does the company charge any one-time or startup fees, such as activation or shipping?
  • Cost of In-Home Systems (30%): What is the company’s least expensive in-home system’s monthly cost?
  • Cost of Mobile Systems (30%): What is the company’s least expensive portable system’s monthly cost?
  • Cost Transparency (20%): How easy is it to find cost information on the company’s website? Is all information listed on the website accurate?
  • Cost of Add-Ons (10%): How much does the company charge for common add-on devices and extra features?
Company Overall Score Overall Rank Starting Costs Score In-Home Systems Score Mobile Systems Score Cost Transparency Score Cost of Add-Ons Score
MobileHelp

10.0

1

6.7 10.0 8.3 9.0 10.0
Medical Alert

9.7

2

8.3 8.6 8.3 10.0 7.8
Bay Alarm Medical

9.5

3

8.3 8.6 10.0 6.0 8.9
QMedic

8.3

4

10.0 7.2 6.7 10.0 1.1
LifeFone

7.6

5

6.7 5.7 6.7 10.0 2.2
Medical Care Alert

7.4

6

8.3 5.7 6.7 4.0 10.0
Medical Guardian

7.0

7

5.0 5.7 6.7 7.0 3.3
Alert1

6.5

8

8.3 4.3 3.3 10.0 3.3
LifeStation

5.9

9

3.3 7.2 5.0 2.0 5.6
ResponseNow

5.3

10

1.7 2.9 6.7 3.0 6.7

Top 10 Most Affordable Medical Alert Systems

MobileHelp is the most affordable medical alert company reviewed, earning the highest score in several rankings categories. Its in-home systems and add-on features are the most affordable of any company, and it also received the second-highest score for the affordability of its mobile devices. Our research and ranking confirm that MobileHelp offers systems at a low price compared to competitors and is entirely upfront with customers about its costs and fees.

Overview of MobileHelp’s Medical Alert Systems

Classic Wired Home Solo MobileHelp Duo Mobile Duo 
Monthly Cost $19.95 $24.95 $37.95 $41.95 $44.95
One-Time Fees $49.95 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Type of Device In-Home In-Home Mobile Mobile Mobile
Connection Cellular Landline Cellular Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 30-hour backup 30-hour backup 24 hours 24 hours; 30-hour backup 24 hours
Water-Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range 60o feet 1,300 feet N/A N/A N/A
Fall Detection $10 a month Not available $10 a month $10 a month $10 a month

Classic
The MobileHelp Classic is a standard in-home system that uses a cellular connection rather than a landline. The wearable help button is showerproof and waterproof, and the base station has a range of 600 feet and a 30-hour backup battery. 

The Classic costs just $19.95 a month, making it one of the most affordable in-home systems on the market in general and by far the least expensive in-home system with a cellular connection. Those who choose to pay for the device monthly must pay a one-time startup fee of $49.95. This fee is waived for customers who choose quarterly, semi-annual, or annual payment options. 

Wired Home
The Wired Home is a landline-compatible version of the Classic system. It includes a waterproof personal help button and a base station with an impressive range of 1,300 feet. When paid for on a month-to-month basis, the Wired Home costs $24.95 per month. Customers may also choose to pay quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. 

Solo
Solo is a portable system that uses AT&T’s cellular network to connect to the monitoring center, so users are protected everywhere with cellular service. The device is waterproof and showerproof and has a battery life of 24 hours. 

Solo costs $37.95 a month with a monthly payment plan. Customers can save several dollars per month with a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual plan. 

MobileHelp Duo
The MobileHelp Duo is a bundled package that includes both Solo and Classic devices. It is designed for seniors who spend a lot of time on-the-go but still want extra protection in the home. The system costs $41.95 a month with a monthly plan. Quarterly, semi-annual, and annual plans are slightly less expensive per month. 

Duo
The Duo plan contains two of the Solo devices for only $7 more per month. This 2-for-1 plan is one of the industry’s best deals for mobile devices.

MobileHelp’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 6.7/10

MobileHelp received its lowest score in this category, at 6.7/10 points. Given that this is still a higher-than-average score, it is a testament to MobileHelp’s high performance in our rankings. The Classic device carries a one-time fee of $49.95 for monthly subscribers, which can be a drawback for those hoping to avoid one-time fees. No other MobileHelp devices have any activation, equipment, or installation fees. Customers who choose monthly payment will also have to pay $15 for shipping; the shipping fee is waived for quarterly, semi-annual, and annual subscribers.

In-Home Systems: 10/10

MobileHelp scored the highest of all the medical alert companies we reviewed for its in-home systems’ affordability. Its Classic device costs just $19.95 a month, including cellular connection. MobileHelp is one of the only medical alert companies to not charge an extra monthly cellular service fee for in-home devices. It also offers discounts on its in-home systems if users pay for a longer period of time at once.

Mobile Systems: 8.3/10

Only one company scored higher than MobileHelp in affordability of mobile systems. Its portable device, the MobileHelp Solo, costs $37.95 a month with a monthly plan. There are discounts available for quarterly, semi-annual, and annual plans, which all save customers several dollars per month. The Duo plan essentially provides a 2-for-1 deal on Solo devices, making MobileHelp especially affordable for spouses who can take advantage of this plan.

Cost Transparency: 9.0/10

MobileHelp earned the second-highest score in this category. All information regarding device pricing and contracts is easy to find on MobileHelp’s website. Details on things like the return process are available online but are not quite as easy to find as they are on some other companies’ websites.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 10/10

MobileHelp scored the highest of all companies for the affordability of its add-on features. Adding fall detection to a MobleHelp device costs $10 a month, which is average among the companies we reviewed. What sets MobileHelp apart are the add-ons that are included at no cost for users. All MobileHelp users receive a free lockbox, regardless of which payment plan they choose. There is also no extra cost for MobileHelp Connect, a caregiver portal that includes on-demand location tracking.

The second-most affordable company we reviewed, Medical Alert offers a simplified product catalog of one in-home system and one mobile device. The in-home system is available with either landline or cellular connectivity. The company ranked in the top three in all categories, including a perfect 10/10 score for cost transparency. The numbers show that Medical Alert can be an excellent option for those looking to keep costs low.

At Home Landline At Home No Landline On the Go
Monthly Cost $22.95 $32.95 $37.95
One-time fees N/A N/A N/A
Type of Device In-home system In-home system Mobile system
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 36-hour backup 36-hour backup 2-5 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes
Range 400 feet 400 feet N/A
Fall Detection $10 a month $10 a month $10 a month

At Home
Medical Alert offers two in-home systems, one that requires a landline and one that uses a cellular connection. Other than the connection type, the two in-home systems offer identical features. The complete At Home system includes a base station with a range of 400 feet and a 36-hour backup battery, and one wearable help button. The personal help button is waterproof and showerproof and may be worn as either a pendant or wristband. 

On the Go
On the Go, Medical Alert’s mobile option is an all-in-one device that integrates a personal help button and two-way speaker for easy use. Users only need to have one device on them to be protected, compared to other companies that have two separate components for their mobile systems. On the Go comes in two versions- one with standard 2-day battery life and an upgraded model with 5-day battery life. Both are waterproof and come equipped with GPS location services.

Medical Alert’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 8.3/10

Medical Alert does not charge any device, activation, or installation fees for any of its systems. Some customers do have to pay $9.50 for shipping, but there are no other starting costs. The shipping fee may be waived for customers who choose semi-annual or annual payment plans.

In-Home Systems: 8.6/10

Medical Alert ranked in second place for the affordability of its in-home systems. At $22.95 a month, the At Home Landline system is among the most affordable of the systems we reviewed. Medical Alert does charge an extra $10 a month for the cellular version, bringing the cost for the At Home Cellular system to $32.95. For both systems, paying semi-annually or annually will bring the cost down by several dollars per month.

Mobile Systems: 8.3/10

In the mobile systems category, Medical Alert earned the second-highest score. Its On the Go device costs $37.95 with a monthly plan, which is slightly less expensive than the industry average. Costs are reduced for customers who choose semi-annual or annual payment methods. An upgraded version of the device with extended battery life is available for an additional $3 a month.

Cost Transparency: 10/10

Medical Alert earned a perfect score for cost transparency. It’s easy to find system prices directly on the product pages on the website. Medical Alert also maintains a helpful FAQ section and a customer service and support section of its website with in-depth information and troubleshooting advice for each of its systems and accessories.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 7.8/10

Add-on devices from Medical Alert are some of the most affordable of the companies we reviewed. Its mobile app, Medical Alert Connect, is available free of charge for Medical Alert users, and even includes on-demand location tracking for On the Go users. Fall detection costs the standard $10 a month.

Rounding out the top three most affordable companies is Bay Alarm Medical. The company received high scores for the affordability of both its in-home and mobile systems and the cost of add-on devices. With its bundled packages of medical alert devices and compatible accessories, Bay Alarm Medical makes all-around protection affordable to a wide range of customers, no matter what specific type of device they’re looking for.

In-Home (Landline) In-Home (Cellular) On the Go
Monthly Cost $21.95 $29.95 $24.95
One-time fees N/A N/A $79
Type of Device In-home system In-home system Mobile system
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 32-hour backup 32-hour backup 3 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes
Range 1,000 feet 1,000 feet N/A
Fall Detection $10 a month $10 a month $10 a month

In-Home Systems
Bay Alarm Medical offers two in-home systems. One requires a landline to connect to the emergency monitoring center, and the other uses a cellular connection. Both systems have a 32-hour backup battery and a range of 1,000 feet. The landline-based system costs $21.95 a month, and the system with cellular connection costs $31.95 a month. 

On the Go
This all-in-one portable device uses AT&T’s cellular network to connect to the monitoring center and includes GPS location tracking. It costs $24.95 a month, and fall detection is available for an additional $10 a month. The device has a built-in two-way speaker, and is waterproof and showerproof. The battery lasts for up to three days between charges.

Bay Alarm Medical’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 8.3/10

Bay Alarm Medical’s in-home systems have no one-time fees, but On the Go users do have to purchase their device for $99. Otherwise, the only starting cost customers face is shipping, which costs $9.95.

In-Home Systems: 8.6/10

Along with one other company, Bay Alarm Medical offers the lowest-priced in-home system on the market, at $19.95 for its in-home landline system. The company does charge an extra fee of $10 for an in-home cellular connection, bringing the cost to $29.95. There are no discounts available for these systems.

Mobile Systems: 10/10

Bay Alarm Medical offers the most affordable mobile system of all the companies we reviewed. The On the Go device costs $24.95 a month, which is approximately $15 less per month than the average cost. Customers have to pay a one-time fee device purchase fee of $99 for On the Go, but the device is theirs to keep.

Cost Transparency: 6.0/10

With a score of 6.0, Bay Alarm Medical ranked fourth for Cost Transparency. While the company does have base pricing, contract, and return information clearly listed on its website, specific information regarding shipping fees is harder to find. Sales representatives readily gave shipping costs when asked over the phone or the website’s chat feature.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 8.9/10

Bay Alarm Medical received the second-highest score for the affordability of its add-on devices. Lockboxes are affordably priced at $30 total (not monthly), and wall buttons can be purchased for $35. Customers can also choose to upgrade their coverage to a Preferred or Premium Protection plan, which include extra accessories and features like free shipping in an affordable bundle. The caregiver mobile app is available to all Bay Alarm Medical users free of charge, and on-demand location tracking and geofencing cost just $5 a month. Fall detection costs $10 a month, which is the industry average.

QMedic Review

QMedic keeps things simple with its easy-to-understand website and pricing structure, made even simpler by a small device catalog of just two systems. Ranking fourth overall for affordability, QMedic received perfect 10/10 scores for Cost of Add-Ons and Cost Transparency.  Customers interested in QMedic do not have to worry about any surprise fees appearing on the bill. Any prospective customers should be aware that QMedic only offers annual payment, so those interested in a month-to-month option should look elsewhere.

In-Home Mobile GPS
Monthly Cost $25.00 $33.33
One-time Fees N/A N/A
Type of Device In-home Mobile 
Connection Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 24-hour backup 14 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes No
Range 800-1,000 feet N/A
Fall Detection Not available Not available

In-Home
QMedic’s In-Home device comes standard with a cellular connection- the company does not offer a landline-enabled option. The system includes a base station with a range of 800-1,000 feet and a 24-hour backup battery, and one waterproof personal help button. Users have their choice of a pendant or wristband for the help button. 

Mobile GPS
QMedic’s only mobile device, the Mobile GPS, costs $400 a year, which breaks down to $33.33 The portable device’s battery can last up to 14 days between charges, and is water-resistant so it can get wet in the rain without damage (however, it is not showerproof).

QMedic’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 10/10

QMedic received the highest possible score for its starting costs. The company does not charge any one-time fees- that means no device, activation, installation, or even shipping fees. And, this applies to all customers, regardless of which device they choose. The only thing that QMedic customers will ever be billed for is monitoring service.

In-Home Systems: 7.2/10

Only two companies scored higher than QMedic for the affordability of its in-home systems. At $25 a month, QMedic’s in-home system’s cost is on-par with the industry average. What sets QMedic apart is that it is one of the only medical alert companies not to charge extra for in-home systems with a cellular connection, which can save customers who do not have a landline over $100 per year.

Mobile Systems: 6.7/10

QMedic’s Mobile GPS device costs $400 a year, or $33.33 per month. The monthly cost is one of the least expensive of all the devices on our list. QMedic lost points in this category because it does not offer any discounts like many competitors do.

Cost Transparency: 10/10

QMedic is one of three companies to receive a perfect score for cost transparency. Base prices, contract and return information, and extra fees are all clearly listed on QMedic’s website. The easy-to-follow website plus an extensive FAQ page ensure that QMedic customers fully understand how much they’ll be paying for medical alert monitoring before it comes time to pay the bill.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 1.1/10

QMedic does not offer many add-on devices, causing it to score much lower in this category than in others. The company does not offer fall detection, lockboxes, or wall-mounted buttons, all of which are standard in the industry. However, QMedic does offer activity and compliance monitoring. They are the only company in the industry that tracks compliance. Activity and compliance data is uploaded onto an online caregiver dashboard, which is free for all QMedic users.

LifeFone Review

One of the top five most affordable companies we reviewed, LifeFone received a perfect score for cost transparency and ranked highly in the starting costs category. With LifeFone, customers will have a clear idea of how much they’ll be paying for medical alert monitoring and do not have to worry about surprise charges. Overall, the prices of its in-home and mobile systems are around the industry average, but its low starting costs help keep LifeFone devices affordable compared to its competitors.

At-Home At-Home Cellular At-Home & On-the-Go GPS At Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-in-Necklace
Monthly Cost $29.95 $34.95 $39.95 $43.95
One-time fees N/A N/A N/A N/A
Type of Device In-home system In-home system In-home and mobile system Mobile system
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 32-hour backup 32-hour backup 24 hours; 30-hour backup 36 hours
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range 1,300 feet 1,300 feet 600 feet in-home, 350 feet mobile N/A
Fall Detection $5 a month $5 a month  $10 a month $5 a month

At-Home
LifeFone offers two in-home devices, one which must connect to a landline and one which uses a cellular connection. Both of the systems include a base station with a 32-hour backup battery and range of 1,300 feet, and a waterproof and showerproof wearable personal help button. The landline system costs $29.95 a month, while the cellular system costs an extra $5 a month, bringing the monthly price to $34.95. 

At-Home & On-the-Go GPS
This system costs $39.95 a month, and includes both an in-home system and a mobile device. The portable On-the-Go device works anywhere with cellular service and is small enough to be worn on a belt clip or placed in a pocket. Users must still wear a personal help button in addition to keeping the On the Go device within 350 feet of their body. The portable device battery lasts 24 hours, and the device is waterproof and showerproof. Customers who choose this plan also receive an At-Home Cellular system. 

At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice in Necklace
This is an all-in-one mobile device that is worn around the neck. There is no additional base station or portable device that users must carry with them. The At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice in Necklace has a battery life of 36 hours, and is water-resistant and showerproof. The device costs $43.95 a month.

LifeFone’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 6.7/10

LifeFone is among the top three companies for having low starting costs. LifeFone does not charge any device, installation, or activation fees for any of its devices. Some customers do have to pay shipping, which costs $14.95, but there are no other one-time fees.

In-Home Systems: 5.7/10

LifeFone received an average score for the affordability of its in-home systems. The At-Home Landline system costs $29.95 a month when paid for on a monthly basis. Users can save several dollars per month by paying quarterly or annually. Those plans cost $27.95 a month and $24.95 a month, respectively. Users who do not have a working landline in their home or prefer a cellular system pay an extra $5 a month for the At-Home Cellular system, bringing the price to $34.95 a month. Quarterly and annual payment options are available and are slightly less expensive per month. The quarterly plan comes out to $32.95 a month, and the annual plan costs $30.95 a month.

Mobile Systems: 6.7/10

LifeFone’s mobile systems are more pricey than some of its competitors. The less expensive of the two options, the At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, costs $39.95 with a monthly or quarterly plan, or $36.95 a month when paid for annually. Its other, more expensive mobile option costs $43.95 a month with a monthly plan. While these systems are more expensive than mobile devices from some of LifeFone’s competitors, LifeFone’s zero starting fees help keep the systems affordable.

Cost Transparency: 10/10

Along with two other companies, LifeFone is the best of the companies we reviewed for cost transparency. All information about monthly prices, extra fees, contract and return information, and the cost of add-ons is clearly listed on the website. The website also has an extensive FAQ section.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 3.3/10

Some of LifeFone’s add-ons are more expensive than other medical alert companies. Fall detection costs $10 a month, the industry average. But, LifeFone charges an additional $9 a month for on-demand location tracking for its mobile devices, which some competitors include for free. LifeFone also offers add-on services including medication reminders and daily check-in calls for an additional monthly fee.

Medical Care Alert Review

Medical Care Alert offers four different systems, including in-home and mobile options, all at affordable prices. It received one of the top scores for having the most affordable starting costs, and earned a perfect 10/10 for the cost of add-ons devices. Customers looking to get the most value for their money may find Medical Care Alert to be a good option.

HOME System HOME-3G System (Cellular) HOME & YARD System HOME & AWAY ULTRA
Monthly Cost $29.95 $34.95 $34.95 $39.95
One-time Fees N/A N/A N/A N/A 
Type of Device In-home system In-home system In-home system Mobile system
Connection Landline Cellular Landline Cellular
Battery Life 72-hour backup 72-hour backup 24-hour backup 3 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range 1,000 feet 1,000 feet 600 feet N/A
Fall Detection $10 a month $10 a month Not available $10 a month

HOME Systems
The HOME device is available both as a landline-based system as well as with cellular connection. The landline system costs $29.95 a month, and the HOME-3G cellular system costs an additional $5 a month, bringing the price to $34.95. The HOME system also includes an extra waterproof personal help button; the HOME-3G includes just one wearable button. The base station for both systems has a range of 1,000 feet and a 72-hour backup battery. 

HOME & YARD System
HOME & YARD is an in-home system designed for users who enjoy spending time outdoors. Rather than including a standard wearable help button, the system comes with a portable component with a built-in two-way speaker and personal help button. Users of HOME & YARD can speak with them directly through the portable device. They must still be within 600 feet of the base station, making this device ideal for gardeners or those who enjoy spending time on their porch. This system costs $34.95 a month, or $32.04 a month with an annual plan. 

HOME & AWAY ULTRA 
HOME & AWAY ULTRA is a waterproof, all-in-one device with a built-in speaker and personal help button. The system uses AT&T cellular network and GPS location services, and has a battery life of 3 days. It also includes free access to the Remote Care 24/7 app for caregivers. HOME & AWAY ULTRA costs $39.95 a month, and is compatible with automatic fall detection for an additional $10 a month.

Medical Care Alert’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 8.3/10

Medical Care Alert does not charge any device, activation, or installation fees for any of its devices. However, some customers do have to pay $12 for shipping. The shipping fee is waived for customers who choose semi-annual or annual payment options. There are no additional one-time fees.

In-Home Systems: 5.7/10

Medical Care Alert’s in-home systems start at $29.95 for the landline-based HOME system (if customers pay annually, the monthly price is discounted to $27.45 per month). This is a slightly higher-than-average price for the industry. Those without a landline must pay an extra $5 a month for the HOME-3G system, which uses AT&T’s cellular network. The HOME-3G system is also slightly less expensive per month with an annual payment plan.

Mobile Systems: 6.7/10

Medical Care Alert’s mobile device costs $39.95 with most payment plans, which is slightly more expensive than the industry average. The monthly cost with an annual payment plan goes down to $36.62, and includes free priority shipping.

Cost Transparency: 4.0/10

The base prices of all Medical Care Alert devices are clearly displayed on the product pages, and the company’s return policy is easy to find on the website as well. However, Medical Care Alert’s payment structure is a bit confusing and unclear on the website. Unlike most other medical alert companies, Medical Care Alert does not initially offer monthly payment. Users must first sign up for quarterly, semi-annual, or annual payments. After one of those cycles is complete (for example, one quarter), customers can then switch to month-to-month payments. Since this information is not outlined on the website, potential customers will likely have to speak to a sales representative for clarity.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 10/10

Medical Care Alert’s add-on devices are the most affordable of companies we reviewed. ranked. Like many other companies, fall detection costs an additional $10 a month. What makes Medical Care Alert stand out is the low cost of its lockboxes and wall-mounted buttons. Both of these devices are available for purchase, making them much more affordable in the long run than paying a monthly rental fee. Customers who choose the annual payment option receive a lockbox free of charge. Plus, a caregiver app including on-demand location tracking is included at no cost for HOME & AWAY ULTRA users.

Medical Guardian offers five medical alert systems, all of which may be paid for on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis to give customers flexibility. The company offers several premium add-on features and has an very informative and intuitive website, making it easy for customers to find the best devices for their needs and budget.

Classic Guardian Home Guardian Mini Guardian Mobile Guardian Active Guardian
Monthly Cost $29.95 $34.95 $39.95 $44.95 $39.95
One-time Fees N/A N/A $124.95 N/A N/A
Type of Device In-Home Only In-Home Only Mobile Mobile  Mobile 
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 32-hour backup 30-hour backup 5 days 24 hours 5 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-Proof Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range 1,300 feet 600 feet Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Fall Detection $10 a month $10 a month $10 a month Not Available $10 a month

Classic Guardian
The Classic Guardian is a basic in-home system. It requires a landline connection, so it is not an option for those without a working landline in their homes. The system includes a base station with a 32-hour backup battery and range of 1,300 feet, and one waterproof and showerproof wearable help button. The Classic Guardian costs $29.95 when paid for on a monthly or quarterly basis. With the annual payment plan, the device costs $27.45 a month.

Home Guardian
Medical Guardian’s other in-home option is the Home Guardian. The system uses AT&T’s cellular connection, so no landline is required. The base station has a range of 600 feet and a 30-hour backup battery, and the waterproof wearable help button may be worn as a pendant or wristband. Home Guardian costs $34.95 a month with a monthly or quarterly payment plan, or $32.04 a month with an annual plan.

Mini Guardian
Medical Guardian’s newest device, the Mini Guardian, packs a lot into a small package. The device is half the width and half the weight of a standard medical alert system, but doesn’t sacrifice any features. The portable device uses 4G LTE cellular connectivity to provide unlimited range and location tracking. It is waterproof, has a battery life of 5 days, and comes in three different colors. The Mini Guardian costs $39.95 per month, and prospective customers should be aware that there is a one-time equipment cost of $124.95.

Mobile Guardian
The Mobile Guardian costs $44.95 a month, or about $41 a month with an annual payment plan. The portable device uses AT&T’s cellular network and has built-in GPS technology. It is a two-part system: there is a small portable device that functions as a mobile base station, and a waterproof wearable help button. Mobile Guardian’s battery life is 24 hours. 

Active Guardian
The Active Guardian is another portable device that uses AT&T’s cellular network. In addition to GPS, this device also uses WiFi signals to aid in location tracking. It is a waterproof, all-in-one device with a built-in two-way speaker and personal help button, and a battery life of 5 days. The Active Guardian costs $39.95 a month with monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual plans, or $36.62 a month with an annual plan.

Medical Guardian’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 5/10

Medical Guardian received an average score in the starting costs category. While most of its devices do not have any one-time fees, the Mini Guardian has a one-time device fee of $124.95. Though this is a high starting cost, keep in mind that it won’t have as much of a long-term financial impact as high monitoring costs do since it is not recurring. Some customers also have to pay $9.50 for shipping, but the shipping fee is waived for those who pay for their devices annually.

In-Home Systems: 5.7/10

Medical Guardian’s in-home systems’ prices are slightly less expensive than average among other companies we reviewed. The Classic Guardian costs $29.95 a month, but requires a landline. Those looking for a cellular system must pay an extra $5 a month for the Home Guardian, which costs $34.95 a month. Both systems are available for a discounted monthly price for those who pay for their service annually.

Mobile Systems: 6.7/10

Mobile systems from Medical Guardian are on the pricier side. The three mobile devices in its catalogue range in price from $39.95 to $49.95 a month, though paying annually reduces the cost by several dollars per month.

Cost Transparency: 7.0/10

Medical Guardian scored highly for cost transparency. The base prices for all Medical Guardian devices are clearly listed on the website, as is return information. However, shipping costs are not revealed until filling in all of one’s billing and shipping information towards the end of the purchase process.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 3.3/10

Medical Guardian offers a wide array of premium features and add-on devices. However, some are on the pricey side compared to competitors. At $10 a month, the cost of adding fall detection to a Medical Guardian device is on par with the industry average. Medical Guardian’s lockboxes are by no means expensive, but compared to companies that sell a lockbox for a low one-time fee, the recurring monthly fee of $2.99 adds up. Customers who choose the annual payment plan receive a free lockbox with their device, helping keep costs down.

Alert1 Review

Scoring in the top ten of companies reviewed, Alert1 offers five medical alert devices, all at prices around or below the industry average. Alert1 received a perfect score for cost transparency in our rankings thanks to its informative, clear, and uncomplicated website. Alert1 also scored very highly in the “starting costs” category and offers discounts on all of its systems for customers who pay for their devices on an annual basis, making Alert1 even more affordable.

Home Home Fall Detection On-the-Go On-the-Go Fall Detection On-the-Go + Home Fall Detection
Monthly Cost $28.95 $36.95 $45.95 $53.95 $61.95
One-time fees $19.95 $19.95 $19.95 $19.95 $19.95
Type of Device In-home system In-home system Mobile system Mobile system Mobile system
Connection Landline Landline or cellular Cellular Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 24-hour backup 24-hour backup 30 days 5 days 24 hours
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range 600 feet 400 feet N/A N/A N/A
Fall Detection $8 a month Included in monthly cost $8 a month Included in monthly cost Included in monthly cost

Home
Alert1 offers two in-home systems: Home and Home Fall Detection. The basic Home system requires a landline connection, but those without a landline can pay an additional $10 a month for a wireless system. The landline version of Home costs $28.95 a month when paid for quarterly, or slightly less per month when paid for annually. The base station has a range of 600 feet and a 24-hour backup battery, and the wearable help button is waterproof and showerproof. 

Home Fall Detection costs $36.95 a month, including fall detection and T-Mobile cellular service. 

On-the-Go
This portable system costs $45.95 a month when paid for monthly. It is an all-in-one portable device with a two-way speaker and built-in personal help button, so users only need to carry one device. On-the-Go is waterproof and showerproof, and has a battery that can last up to 30 days between charges. 

On-the-Go Fall Detection
This device offers fall detection included in the monthly price of $53.95. Like Alert1’s other mobile systems, the On-the-Go Fall Detection is an all-in-one, waterproof device. It uses the AT&T cellular network, and has a battery life of 5 days. 

On-the-Go + Home Fall Detection
This bundle option includes a portable device with fall detection, plus an in-home fall detection pendant and wristband. When at home, users place the portable device in its charging station and wear one of the in-home personal help buttons, essentially turning the portable device into a base station. All devices are waterproof and may be enabled to use either Verizon or AT&T’s cellular network. This plan costs $61.95 a month when paid for quarterly.

Alert1’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 8.3/10

Alert1 does not charge any device, installation, or shipping fees. All devices do carry an activation fee of $19.95 for all devices. This activation fee may be waived for those who pay for their device annually.

In-Home Systems: 4.3/10

Alert1 scored in the middle of the pack for the affordability of its in-home systems. At a monthly cost of $28.95 for a landline system plus $10 a month for a cellular connection, Alert1’s in-home systems are more expensive than some of its peers. Alert1 does offer a discount for those who pay for their device on an annual basis, bringing the cost down over $100 per year.

Mobile Systems: 3.3/10

Alert1’s lowest score was in the Mobile Systems category. On the Go, its most basic mobile system costs $45.95 per month, one of the most expensive options among the companies we reviewed. The company does offer a discount for those who pay annually, bringing the monthly cost down to $36.95.

Cost Transparency: 10/10

Alert1 ranked the highest in Cost Transparency of all companies we reviewed, earning a perfect score of 10/10. It excelled mostly due to its website, which clearly presents all device costs, including extra fees for fall detection and in-home cellular systems, right on the device page. Other companies may wait until users have placed the devices into their shopping cart before revealing these extra fees. Alert1 also maintains a robust FAQ section, and has a Resources section of its website dedicated to Senior Safety Resources, Tools & Articles.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 3.3/10

Upgrading to a device with fall detection costs $8 with Alert1, which is slightly below the industry standard of $10. Alert1 offers lockboxes and wall-buttons for purchase, both for $39.95. The purchase option actually makes the devices less expensive over time than renting them for a monthly fee, helping keep overall costs for Alert1 customers low. However, it does not offer any discount or deals on accessories. The company does not offer a caregiver portal or on-demand location tracking, but it is one of the only companies to offer an automatic medication dispenser and voice extender for in-home systems. The medication dispenser can be purchased for $149.95, and the voice extender costs $99.

LifeStation Review

LifeStation is one of the top ten most affordable medical alert companies of those that we reviewed. Its in-home device is one of the least expensive on the market, and its mobile system is priced slightly better than average. LifeStation is not the best for cost transparency due to an outdated website, bringing down its overall score.

In-Home  In-Home No Landline Mobile LTE
Monthly Cost $21.95 $30.95 $37.95
One-time Fees N/A N/A $50
Type of Device In-home system In-home system Mobile system
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 48-hour backup 48-hour backup 5 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes
Range 1,000 feet 650 feet N/A
Fall Detection $10 a month $10 a month $10 a month

In-Home
The LifeStation In-Home is a standard, landline-based system. There is no option for cellular connection with this model, so users must have a working landline in their home. The In-Home has a range of 1,000 feet and a 48-hour backup battery, and includes one waterproof wearable help button. 

The In-Home Traditional costs $21.95 a month with a Standard payment package. Customers may also choose Select or Supreme packages, which come with additional features. The Select package costs $26.95 a month and includes a device protection plan, covering replacement costs if a user’s device is damaged, lost, or stolen. The Supreme plan costs $36.95 a month and includes both fall detection and a device protection plan. 

In-Home No Landline
The In-Home No Landline is a cellular-based version of the standard In-Home system. It uses AT&T cellular network to connect users to the emergency monitoring center, so no landline is required. This system has a range of 650 feet and a 48-hour backup battery and includes a waterproof, showerproof personal help button. 

This system costs $30.95 a month with a Standard package. The Select and Supreme packages cost $35.95 and $45.95, respectively. The packages are the same for all LifeStation devices. 

Mobile LTE
Mobile LTE is LifeStation’s portable device option. The waterproof, lightweight system weighs about 2 ounces and is worn around the neck. In addition to AT&T cellular service, Mobile with GPS is also equipped with GPS location tracking. The battery lasts up to 5 days between charges. 

The device costs $37.95 with a Standard plan. The Select and Supreme plans cost $42.95 and $47.95 a month, respectively.

LifeStation’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 3.3/10

LifeStation’s lower score in this category is mainly due to a $50 activation fee for their Mobile LTE device. Only customers who choose the Standard payment package pay the activation fee; it is waived for customers who choose Select and Supreme service packages. Neither of LifeStation’s other two devices require any one-time fees, and all packages for all devices include free shipping.

In-Home Systems: 7.2/10

LifeStation’s in-home system is the second most affordable of the companies we reviewed, at $21.95 per month. There is an extra fee of $9 for the cellular-connected model, which is on par with the industry average. LifeStation does not offer any discounts for longer payment periods.

Mobile Systems: 5.0/10

LifeStation’s Mobile LTE costs $37.95 per month, which is slightly more affordable than average. The company lost points in this category because it does not offer any discounts for annual payment periods like many of its competitors do.

Cost Transparency: 2.0/10

The category in which LifeStation scored the worst is Cost Transparency. This is because the company’s website is missing important information, such as payment plan options and extra fees. LifeStation sales representatives are very forthcoming with this information if interested customers call the number listed on the website. Still, there is no way to sign up for service with LifeStation or fully understand its pricing without calling a representative.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 5.6/10

LifeStation received an average score for the cost of their add-ons. Along with most other companies, adding fall detection to a LifeStation device costs $10 a month. Its Mobile LTE device also includes on-demand location tracking at no extra cost. Its selection of other add-ons is very limited, and it does not offer any discounts.

ResponseNow Review

Rounding out the top 10 most affordable medical alert companies is ResponseNow. ResponseNow offers one in-home device and two mobile devices, all at affordable prices. The company scored well for the cost of its mobile devices’ cost, making it a good choice for active seniors.

In the Home Belle Belle+
Monthly Cost $29.95 $39.95 $49.95
One-time fees N/A $35 $35
Type of Device In-home Mobile Mobile 
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 24-hour backup 30 days 5 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes
Range 500 feet N/A N/A
Fall Detection $11.95 a month Not available Included in monthly cost

In the Home
In the Home is ResponseNow’s only in-home device option. The system requires a working landline connection; there is no option for a cellular in-home system. It includes a waterproof wearable help button that may be worn as a pendant or wristband, and a base station with a 24-hour backup battery and range of 500 feet. In the Home costs $29.95 a month when paid for monthly. Quarterly and annual plans are also available, and cost a few dollars less per month. 

Belle
The Belle is a waterproof and showerproof all-in-one device with a built-in two-way speaker and personal help button. This mobile device uses AT&T’s cellular network, so it works nearly anywhere in the United States. The battery lasts up to 30 days on a single charge. The system costs $39.95 a month with a monthly plan, or slightly less per month with a quarterly or annual payment plan. 

Belle+
This is an upgraded version of the other Belle device. It also uses AT&T’s cellular network but has enhanced location services with on-demand GPS location tracking, so users’ family members or caregivers can check in on their loved one’s location. The Belle+ also includes fall detection in the monthly price. Due to the added capabilities, the battery life is slightly diminished and last up to 5 days. This device costs $49.95 a month with a monthly plan. Quarterly and annual plans, which cost a few dollars less per month, are also available.

ResponseNow’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 1.7/10

There are no device, activation, or installation fees for the In the Home device. However, both Belle devices come with a $35 activation fee for all customers, regardless of which payment plan they choose. There are no device or installation fees for the Belle devices. Customers who choose the monthly payment plan also have to pay $14.95 for shipping. Quarterly and annual payment plans for all three devices include free ground shipping.

In-Home Systems: 2.9/10

ResponseNow’s in-home device, In the Home, costs $29.95 a month with a monthly plan, which is on the higher end for the industry but on par with other companies we reviewed. The device is less expensive for customers who choose quarterly or annual payment plans. The quarterly plan brings the monthly cost down to $27.95, and the yearly plan costs $24.95 a month.

Mobile Systems: 6.7/10

The Belle and Belle+ devices are priced slightly higher than the industry average. Belle costs $39.95 a month with a monthly plan, but is less expensive with quarterly and annual plans. The quarterly plan costs $37.95 a month, and the annual plan saves users even more money with a monthly cost of $34.95. The Belle+ costs $49.95 a month with a monthly plan, which is much higher than mobile devices from other medical alert companies, but it also is available at a discounted price for customers who pay for longer periods. The quarterly plan brings the cost down to $47.95 a month, and the annual plan costs $44.95 a month.

Cost Transparency: 3.0/10

ResponseNow has the base prices for all of its devices, including the different prices for all three payment plans, clearly listed on its website. It also is upfront about the $35 activation fee for the Belle devices, and has that price listed in several places on its website. However, it does not have clear information about service contracts or the return process. Additionally, there is no FAQ page, so potential customers will likely need to call a sales representative with any questions.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 6.7/10

Some of ResponseNow’s add-on devices are more expensive than other medical alert companies. Fall detection costs an additional $11.95 a month for the In the Home device, while most companies charge $10 a month. Additionally, the two-year cost of a lockbox from ResponseNow is $94.80 (3.95 a month), which is much higher than the industry average. ResponseNow does offer on-demand location tracking for the Belle+ device at no additional cost for users and their loved ones. Additionally, customers who pay for their device annually receive a free lockbox with their subscription.

Other Companies to Consider

GreatCall Lively Mobile

GreatCall is a top medical alert company that provides mobile solutions for seniors looking for emergency medical alert protection. It was ineligible for our rankings because it does not offer any in-home systems, so we could not accurately compare it to companies that do. 

Its GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus device provides coverage on-the-go, and some of the service plans include additional features like on-demand health and wellness advice and activity tracking.

Basic Preferred Ultimate
Monthly Cost $24.99 $29.99 $39.99
One-time fees $49.99 purchase, $35 activation $49.99 purchase, $35 activation $49.99 purchase, $35 activation
Type of Device Mobile Mobile  Mobile
Connection Cellular Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 24 hours 24 hours 24 hours
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes
Range Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Fall Detection Not Available Not Available Included in Monthly Cost

Device and Plan Options

Rather than offering several different systems, GreatCall offers one device only: the GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus. This portable system uses Verizon cellular network, so users are covered anywhere in the United States that has cellular service. The device is waterproof and showerproof, and it has a battery life of 24 hours. 

GreatCall requires all users to purchase their device, rather than lease it. The one-time purchase fee for the GreatCall Lively Mobile is $49.99. Users then select one of three service plans:

  • Basic: The basic plan is the most bare-bones option and the least expensive at $24.99 a month. This plan covers emergency monitoring services with GreatCall’s 5 Star Urgent Response Service monitoring center. Extra features like fall detection and activity tracking are not available with the basic package. 
  • Preferred: The preferred plan costs $29.99 a month, and includes some extra features beyond emergency monitoring. Customers who choose the preferred plan have access to Urgent Care, an on-demand health and wellness advice center, and GreatCall Link, a companion mobile app. Fall detection is not available with this package. 
  • Ultimate: At $39.99 a month, the Ultimate plan is both the most comprehensive and most expensive service package. It includes all of the same features as the Preferred plan, plus fall detection and a device replacement plan that covers replacement of the device if it is lost, stolen, broken, or damaged for any reason. 

Starting Costs

GreatCall Lively Mobile customers do have to pay several one-time fees. In addition to the purchase fee of $49.99, users must pay $35 for device activation. Users must also pay for shipping, which costs $10. 

Extra Features

GreatCall offers several extra features that are included with Preferred and Ultimate packages. Add-on features include:

  • Urgent Care: Urgent Care is an on-demand, 24/7 phone line that connects GreatCall Lively Mobile users with registered nurses and doctors. Users simply call the Urgent Care number at any time, and can ask medical professionals for health and wellness advice or information. They can also have common prescriptions refilled and sent to their pharmacy. 
  • GreatCall Link: This is a companion mobile app that allows loved ones of GreatCall Lively Mobile users to track the user’s activity levels. They can also use the app to check the device’s call history and battery level.

RescueTouch

Like GreatCall, RescueTouch was excluded from our rankings due to its all-mobile product offerings. All RescueTouch service plans use one device, which is programmed according to the plan the customer selects. Both monitored and unmonitored service plans are available to meet the needs of a wide range of users.

9-1-1 Direct Family Response  Family Response- Fall Detection “The Whole Shabang” Chit Chat Twin Pack Chit Chat Monitored Twin Pack
Monthly Cost $30 $35 $40 $50 $65 $75
One-time fees $99 $99 $99 $99 $178 $178
Type of Device Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile  Mobile
Connection Cellular Cellular Cellular Cellular Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 5 days 2.5 days (5 days with GPS off) 2.5 days (5 days with GPS off) 2.5 days (5 days with GPS off) 2.5 days (5 days with GPS off) 2.5 days (5 days with GPS off)
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Fall Detection Not available Not available Included in monthly cost Included in monthly cost Included in monthly cost Included in monthly cost

Device and Plan Options

RescueTouch’s mobile SOS pendant is waterproof and showerproof, and has a battery life of up to 5 days. All RescueTouch users buy their device rather than lease it, so the equipment is guaranteed to be brand new. The purchase fee if $99 for a single device, and $178 for a twin pack. Customers also choose between four different service plans:

  • 9-1-1 Caller: The 9-1-1 caller plan is unique in the medical alert industry, as it actually does not connect users to an emergency monitoring center. Rather, when users press their personal help button, they connect directly to their local 9-1-1, bypassing the monitoring center. This is a no-frills plan, and does not include fall detection. The 9-1-1 caller costs $25 a month, making it the least expensive RescueTouch plan.
  • Family Response- Care Caller: The Family Response plans are unmonitored. That means users are connected with friends and family when they press their personal help button rather than the emergency monitoring center. RescueTouch users may program up to five personal contacts to alert during an emergency. These contacts also have the option of initiating contact with their loved one through the device, and tracking the location of the device via GPS. This plan costs $35 a month.
  • Family Response- Fall Caller: This plan includes the same features as the Care Caller, with the addition of automatic fall detection. It costs $41 a month for a single device, or $69 a month for the Twin Pack plan which includes two devices that may be used to communicate with one another as walkie-talkies.
  • EMS Response- Maximum Monitored Caller: RescueTouch EMS Response plans connect users to emergency monitoring centers when they press their personal help buttons. Once connected with the monitoring center, users then have the choice of dispatchers alerting their personal contacts or emergency services. This plan includes automatic fall detection and costs $51 a month for a single device, or $69 a month with a twin pack.  

Staring Costs

RescueTouch users must initially buy their device for $99, or $178 for two devices in a twin pack. There are no other one-time fees such as activation, and shipping is included with all plans.

Extra Features

RescueTouch does not offer any add-on features at this time.

Companies That Did Not Make the Top 10

Rescue Alert

Rescue Alert’s devices are priced higher than most other companies we reviewed, ranking at number 11. However, the company received a perfect score in the starting costs category, helping offset the higher monitoring costs.

MXD MXD3G Rescue Alert GPS
Monthly Cost $32.95 $42.95 $44.95
One-time fees N/A N/A N/A
Type of Device In-home In-home Mobile 
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 80-hour backup 60-hour backup  48+ hours
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes
Range 600 feet 600 feet N/A
Fall Detection $10 a month $10 a month Not available

As mentioned above, Rescue Alert earned the top score in the starting costs category. It does not charge any one-time fees; even free shipping is included for all customers. It received a low score of 1.4/10 for the high cost of its in-home systems, and ranked poorly for cost transparency as its website lacks some crucial information about service contracts and the company’s return policy.

Philips Lifeline

Philips Lifeline ranked 12th out of 13 companies we reviewed for affordability. While its medical alert systems are of very high quality, the high device prices, multiple one-time fees, and costly add-on devices make them much less affordable than other companies we reviewed.

HomeSafe HomeSafe with AutoAlert GoSafe 2
Monthly Cost $29.95*  $44.95* $44.95
One-time fees $50 $50 $99.95
Type of Device In-home system In-home system Mobile system
Connection Landline or Cellular Landline or Cellular  Cellular
Battery Life 48-hour backup 48-hour backup 2-3 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes
Range 500 feet 500 feet N/A
Fall Detection Not available Included Included

*The cellular model costs an extra $14

Philips Lifeline scored the lowest out of all companies for its starting costs. It is the only company we reviewed to charge multiple high one-time fees, which range from $50 to $149 for activation. Additionally, all customers pay between $19.95-$99 for device installation and shipping. Philips Lifeline also charges more than any other company for automatic fall detection, at $15 a month.

Life Alert

Life Alert received the lowest overall ranking of the companies we reviewed. It consistently received the lowest ranking in several categories, including for the cost of its mobile systems and add-on devices.

In the Home In the Bathroom On the Go
Monthly Cost $49 $69 $89
One-time Fees $95 $96 $198
Type of Device In-home In-home Mobile
Connection Landline/Cellular Landline/Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 72-hour backup 72-hour backup Up to 10 years
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes
Range 800 feet 800 feet N/A
Fall Detection Not available Not available Not available

Life Alert’s mobile systems, in particular, are significantly more expensive than competitors’ at $89 a month. The next most expensive mobile system is about half the price, at $45 a month. 

Life Alert is also the only medical alert company that we reviewed that requires users to sign a long-term contract. Upon signing up for service, users must sign a 3-year contract that may only be broken for “qualifying circumstances” such as moving into a nursing home. Customers who wish to end their contract without a qualifying circumstance may be responsible for paying for the remaining months of the agreement. None of this information, or any pricing information, is available on the company’s website.

Full Explanation of Our Metrics

Starting Costs

We examined the one-time fees customers may have to pay upon signing up for service with a medical alert company. This metric made up 10% of the final score because the fees can add up and impact customers’ overall cost, but will have less impact than recurring monthly fees. Other than shipping, most one-time fees are uncommon. We looked at the following starting costs: 

  • Device Fees: Are customers required to pay a fee to use the medical alert equipment? 
  • Activation Fees: Are customers required to pay a fee to activate their device before they are able to start using it?
  • Installation Fees: Are customers required to pay for a technician to come install their device? 
  • Shipping Fees: Do customers pay for delivery costs for their device, or is the cost included with their monthly monitoring fee?

In-Home Systems

For this metric, we considered the monthly cost of an in-home system. This made up 30% of the overall ranking because it is a recurring payment and makes up the bulk of the overall system cost. We broke down our scoring into the following submetrics:

  • Monthly Cost: The monthly fee for monitoring service all customers must pay. If a company offers more than one in-home system, we used the least expensive option. 
  • Available Discounts: Does the company offer discounts on the monthly fee for longer pay periods (quarterly, semi-annual, annual payments)? We used a yes/no system for this category. 
  • Extra Fee for Cellular Connection: Does the company change an extra fee each month for a cellular in-home system versus using a landline connection? If so, how much per month?

Mobile Systems

Mobile systems also accounted for 30% of the overall ranking, as monthly monitoring fees generally comprise the majority of one’s medical alert system expenses. Specifically, in this category we looked at:

  • Monthly Cost: Again, if a company offers more than one mobile system, we used the cost of the least expensive device. We used the price for customers who pay monthly, rather than quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
  • Available Discounts: Does the company offer discounts on the monthly fee for longer pay periods (quarterly, semi-annual, annual payments)? We used a yes/no system for this category. 

Cost Transparency

For this metric, we evaluated the ease with which we could find cost information on a company’s website. This made up 20% of the overall ranking because while cost transparency does not directly affect the amount one pays, a lack of transparency can cause customers to pay more than expected. High cost transparency also signals honesty and consumer-friendly company policies. We looked at the following factors related to transparency:

  • Base Prices Available Online: Are the monthly monitoring fees for each of a company’s devices clearly stated on the website?
  • Contract Information Available Online: Are the company’s policies regarding contracts, service agreements, and cancellation fees clearly stated on the website?
  • Return Information Available Online: Is the process for returning equipment and any associated fees clearly listed on the website?
  • All Fees Listed: Are any additional fees such as activation, installation, shipping, or extra fees for in-home cellular connection clearly stated on the company’s website?
  • Ease of Finding Information on Website: Is all of this information easy to find and listed upfront, or do customers need to search the website to find it? Is there a FAQ section, and is it detailed and helpful?

Cost of Add-Ons

In addition to medical alert devices, most companies offer some add-on devices such as wall-mounted help buttons and lockboxes. We examined the cost of several common add-on devices for this metric. This category makes up the final 10% of the overall scores, because although add-ons can be fairly costly, they are optional. The add-on devices and features we included are:

  • Fall Detection: How much extra does it cost per month for automatic fall detection?
  • Caregiver Portal and On-Demand Location Tracking: Does the company offer an online or mobile portal for caregivers? Is on-demand location tracking available? Do either of these features carry an additional fee, and if so, how much is the fee? 
  • Lockbox: How much does the company charge for a lockbox? Because some companies offer these for purchase and others for monthly lease, we looked at the two-year cost. 
  • Wall-Mounted Buttons: How much does the company charge for a wall-mounted button? Like the lockboxes, we looked at the two-year cost to adjust for the differences in pricing structure between different companies. 
  • Available Discounts/Deals on Accessories: Does the company offer any discounts or special deals for these add-on features and devices? We used a yes/no scoring system for this submetric.

How to Find an Affordable Medical Alert System

In addition to looking at our rankings and scores, we recommend using the following strategies to find an affordable medical alert system.

Understand the Pricing Structure

When looking at the overall cost for a medical alert system, one needs to consider three main types of payments that contribute to the total cost. These fee types are explained below. 

One-Time Fees

Some companies charge one-time startup fees that customers must pay upon signing up for monitoring service. This includes device, activation, installation, and shipping fees, and for some companies, they can total over $100. Other than shipping, these are fairly uncommon, so if you are trying to avoid costly startup fees you do have options. Additionally, a few companies have users purchase their devices rather than lease them. While this does raise the system’s overall cost, it ensures that equipment is always brand new. 

Ongoing Costs

These are payments that you will have to make each month (or quarterly, semi-annually, or annually, should you choose one of those payment plan options). This typically includes the monitoring service fee, as well as any additional monthly costs such as automatic fall detection or an extra fee for cellular in-home connection.

Cancellation Fees

Most companies have customer-friendly contract and cancellation policies that allow users to cancel their service at any time without paying a penalty. However, for companies that do still charge a cancellation fee, the cost can be extremely high. Some companies also may not charge a direct cancellation fee, but can penalize customers for cancellation by charging restocking fees for leased devices. Many also require that customers pay for return shipping when returning their devices, although this fee rarely exceeds $15. 

Watch Out for Hidden Fees

Although most of the companies we reviewed in our Top 10 Most Affordable Medical Alert Companies ranking do not engage in sneaky tactics to overcharge customers, some companies in the industry do. Cost transparency is key to fully understanding what you are signing up for and how much you will be billed each month. 

Ideally, a company should have all costs related to monitoring service, startup fees, and the cost of add-on devices or features clearly listed on their website. You may also want to call a company to confirm the prices on the website are accurate or to get more clarity before you sign up for service. Honest companies will be very direct and forthcoming with this information when you ask. 

If the pricing structure is very confusing, it is not listed anywhere on the website, or the customer support representative tries to dodge your questions about specific fees and costs, it is a sign that the company may not be completely honest about their pricing. One way that companies can trick customers into hidden fees is through their contracts and cancellation policies, so be sure you are clear on those before signing up for service. 

Consider the Long-Term Cost

In our rankings of the most affordable companies, we looked at long-term cost by including a company’s contract and return transparency, taking available discounts for longer payment periods into account, and placing the heaviest weight on the monthly cost for the systems. 

For example, take a look at the following example: 

Company A has a monthly monitoring cost of $30 for the first year, no startup costs, and offers a wall-mounted help button for an extra $10 a month. Additionally, the company offers the first month for free when you pay for a year at a time, so the total starting cost is $0. However, after the first year, the promotional pricing drops off, and the monthly cost goes up to $40.

Company B charges $35 a month, but it requires startup fees of $75. A wall-mounted help button costs another $50, for a total startup cost of $160.

Here’s what you could expect to pay over 5 years for both companies. 

While Company A’s total cost for year 1 was about $100 cheaper, by year two the amount of money paid to Company A was about $80 more than the amount paid to Company B. By the 5-year mark, Company A charged over $600 more than Company B

As you can see, it’s important to think about the long-term cost – you can use the principles below to evaluate the overall affordability of any medical alert company you are considering. 

The monthly cost of monitoring is the most important factor. 

When looking for an affordable medical alert system, the monthly cost should be the most important factor (unless it is one of the few companies with very steep one-time fees). This will have the biggest impact on your long-term cost because it is the most significant portion of your monthly payments and continues over time, unlike startup costs. It may be worth choosing a company with some startup costs, like shipping, and a very affordable monthly monitoring fee, over a company with free shipping but a higher monthly cost. 

Accessories are cheaper in the long-term if you can pay a one-time fee. 

It is also worth looking into the payment structure for accessories and add-on devices, like lockboxes and wall-mounted help buttons. Some companies lease these items to customers and have them pay a monthly fee, while others have customers purchase these accessories for a one-time fee. Although the accessories for purchase may seem more expensive at first, our calculations found that they were actually less expensive when considering the cost over a two year period. Monthly leasing fees for these accessories added up to be more expensive than purchasing the device in just 24 months, and in some cases the difference is significant. 

Watch out for promotional pricing. 

Lastly, it is always a good idea to check whether your monthly monitoring rate is price-locked over time. It is a common sales tactic in some industries to offer customers a very affordable rate for the first year, then raise the cost significantly in the future. By choosing a medical alert company with a price-lock guarantee, you ensure that your monthly monitoring cost will remain the same for years to come. 

Even if a company doesn’t offer a price-lock guarantee, ask whether your monthly cost is a promotional price, and whether it will go up after a year or two. You may still end up choosing a company that offers promotional pricing, but be sure to base your decision on the long-term cost, rather than just the cost for the first year.

PayingForSeniorCare.com is committed to providing information, resources, and services — free of charge to consumers — that help seniors and their families make better decisions about senior living and care. We may receive business-to-business compensation from senior care partnerships and/or website advertising. This compensation doesn’t dictate our research and editorial content, nor how we manage our consumer reviews program. PayingForSeniorCare.com independently researches the products and services that our editorial team suggests for readers. Advertising and partnerships can impact how and where products, services, and providers are shown on our website, including the order in which they appear, but they don’t determine which services or products get assessed by our team, nor which consumer reviews get published or declined. PayingForSeniorCare awards some companies with badges and awards based on our editorial judgment (e.g., “Best Medical Alerts”). We don’t receive compensation for these badges/awards: a service provider or product owner may not purchase the award designation or badge.

More About Medical Alert Systems

For more information about medical alert systems, read the helpful guides we have created below. Included are FAQ’s, in-depth reviews of medical alert systems and devices, and head-to-head comparisons.

Articles

Brand Comparisons