Table of Contents
Written By: Rachel Lustbader
Page Reviewed / Updated – 12/21/2021

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 14 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. We only included companies that scored a 7.0/10 or higher in our list of the most affordable medical alert systems.

Our research shows that MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical, and Aloe Care Health offer the most affordable medical alert systems. All three companies help customers keep costs low with some of the industry’s lowest monthly monitoring costs, included and discounted add-on features, and excellent cost transparency. Other standout companies include Medical Alert, QMedic, and Medical Guardian.

The Best Medical Alert Systems

  1. MobileHelp: 10.0
  2. Bay Alarm Medical: 9.5
  3. Aloe Care Health: 9.0
  4. QMedic: 8.5
  5. Medical Alert: 8.3
  6. Alert1: 8.0
  7. Medical Guardian: 7.7
  8. LifeFone: 7.6
  9. Medical Care Alert: 7.4
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 Rank Starting Costs Score In-Home Systems Score Mobile Systems Score Cost Transparency Score Cost of Add-Ons Score
MobileHelp

10.0

1

1.3 10.0 8.8 10.0 8.9
Bay Alarm Medical

9.5

2

7.5 8.8 7.5 7.7 10.0
Aloe Care

9.0

3

7.5 5.0 10.0 7.7 8.9
QMedic

8.5

4

10.0 7.5 6.3 10.0 1.1
Medical Alert

8.3

5

6.3 8.8 3.8 10.0 6.7
Alert1

8.0

6

6.3 7.5 7.5 6.6 2.2
Medical Guardian

7.7

7

5.0 6.3 5.0 8.8 7.8
LifeFone

7.6

8

6.3 6.3 5.0 10.0 3.3
Medical Care Alert

7.4

9

7.5 6.3 5.0 5.5 8.9

Top 9 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: 1.3/10

MobileHelp received its lowest score in this category, at 1.3/10 points. 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: 8.8/10

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: 10/10

Along with two other companies, MobileHelp earned the highest score in this category. All information regarding device pricing and contracts is easy to find on MobileHelp’s website. Its return process is clearly outlined in simple terms, and a live chat feature makes it easy to ask any questions that you may not see answers for on the site.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 8.9/10

MobileHelp scored in the top two 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 on our list 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) GPS Help Button In Home + GPS
Monthly $19.95 $29.95 $29.95 $39.95
One-time fees N/A N/A $99 $99
Type of Device In-home system In-home system Mobile system In-home and mobile system
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular Landline and cellular system
Battery Life 32-hour backup 32-hour backup 3 days 3 days mobile; 32-hour backup in-home
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range 1,000 feet 1,000 feet N/A Nationwide mobile; 1,000 feet in-home
Fall Detection $10 a month $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 $19.95 a month, and the system with cellular connection costs $29.95 a month. 

GPS Help Button
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.

In Home + GPS
This hybrid plan offers both in-home and on-the-go emergency coverage. It includes one of Bay Alarm Medical’s in-home systems, either with or without cellular connection, and a portable GPS Help Button. This package costs $39.95 a month with the landline in-home system, offering savings of $10 a month compared to paying for the in-home and mobile devices separately. It costs an additional $10 a month for the cellular in-home base station, and fall detection also costs $10 a month.

Bay Alarm Medical’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 7.5/10

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: 8.8/10

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: 7.5/10

Bay Alarm Medical offers the third most affordable mobile system of the companies we reviewed. The On the Go device costs $29.95 a month, which is approximately $10 less per month than the average cost. Customers do have to pay a one-time fee device purchase fee of $99 for the GPS Help Button, but the device is theirs to keep.

Cost Transparency: 7.7/10

With a score of 7.7, 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: 10/10

Bay Alarm Medical earned the 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. Notably, its Caregiver Tracking App with on-demand location tracking is available to all mobile device users free of charge. Fall detection costs $10 a month, which is the industry average.

Aloe Care Health ranked as the 3rd most affordable medical alert company with a total score of 9.0/10. It currently offers four service packages, all of which include access to a mobile app for caregivers for easy collaboration. Though users face steep startup fees, monthly costs for Aloe Care systems are lower or similar to other companies on this list, and the company earned the highest score for the affordability of its mobile device. It also fared well in the “Cost of Add-Ons” category, with fall detection and on-demand location tracking included in users’ monthly costs. Aloe Care can be a good option for those seeking a comprehensive system with a great mobile app so long as they’re able to pay the initial device fees without overextending their budget.

Mobile Companion Essentials Essentials Plus Total Care
Monthly Cost $24.99 $29.99 $39.99 $49.99
One-time fees $99.99 $149.99 $249.99 $349.99
Type of Device Mobile System In-home System In-home and mobile system In-home and mobile system
Connection Cellular Cellular Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 4-5 days 4-6 hour backup 4-5 days mobile, 4-6 hour backup 4-5 days mobile, 4-6 hour backup
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range Nationwide 30 feet voice range; 200 feet button range Nationwide Nationwide
Fall Detection Included in monthly cost Not available Included in monthly cost Included in monthly cost

Mobile Companion
The Mobile Companion is Aloe Care’s standalone portable device. It is a small, water-resistant unit with a built-in speaker for two-way communication with the emergency monitoring center. The Mobile Companion comes standard with a 4G LTE cellular connection and automatic fall detection at no extra cost. All purchases include access to Aloe Care’s mobile app, where caregivers can collaborate, view the device’s exact location, and more. The Mobile Companion costs $24.99 a month, the least expensive mobile device on this list, plus a one-time device fee of $99.

Essentials
The Essentials plan is Aloe Care’s basic in-home option. It includes one wearable help button and one base station, which comes standard with a 4G cellular connection so there is no need for a landline or WiFi. In addition to connecting to the emergency monitoring center, the base station has built-in motion, temperature, and air quality sensors and a motion-activated nightlight. This package costs $29.99 a month plus a one-time hardware fee of $149.99.

Essentials Plus
Essentials Plus is one of Aloe Care’s two hybrid in-home and on-the-go medical alert systems. It includes everything in the Essentials plan, plus a Mobile Companion device for medical alert monitoring outside of the home. This option costs $39.99 a month and has a one-time fee of $249.99.

Total Care
This is Aloe Care’s most comprehensive service plan. It includes everything in the Essentials Plus option (in-home base station, wearable help button, and Mobile Companion) plus two in-home motion sensors and a smart fall sensor for in-home fall detection. Unlike Aloe Care’s other plans, WiFi is required to use Total Care. This comprehensive plan costs $49.99 a month and has a high one-time device fee of $349.99.

Aloe Care’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 7.5/10

Aloe Care has the highest device fees of any company on this list, ranging from $99.99 for the mobile device to $349.99 for the most comprehensive system. Although it is rare for a medical alert company to charge such high device fees, these rates are comprehensive so there are no additional activation, installation, or shipping costs.

In-Home Systems: 5.0/10

With a score of 5.0/10, Aloe Care ranks averagely for the cost of its in-home systems. Its basic Essentials plan costs $29.99 a month, which is typical for the industry. Notably, there is no additional fee for a cellular system as the base station comes standard with 4G service. The other two in-home packages cost $39.99 and $49.99 a month, which is expensive, but these plans include additional devices and features including a mobile medical alert system, making them hybrid in-home and on-the-go- systems.

Mobile Systems: 10/10

Aloe Care offers the most affordable mobile system of all companies on this list. Its Mobile Companion device costs just $24.99 a month, $5 less per month than the next most affordable option. Aloe Care customers can also get a Mobile Companion device in the Essentials Plus and Total Care packages, which include in-home and mobile devices in one comprehensive package and cost $39.99 and $49.99 a month, respectively.

Cost Transparency: 7.7/10

It’s easy to find base price information for all Aloe Care systems on its website home page, and the company is upfront about the initial one-time device fees. It lost points in the “Ease of Finding Information on Website” sub-metric because its FAQ section is not comprehensive and there is no live chat option on the website for questions that are not answered on the FAQ page. Information that is missing from the FAQ page includes shipping costs, contract and cancellation details, and available discounts.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 8.9/10

Although Aloe Care does not offer as many add-ons as some of its competitors, it does include two crucial ones in its monthly costs. Both fall detection and a caregiver app are available to users without any additional cost. It is the only company on our list that does not charge an additional monthly fee for fall detection, though it is only available on the Mobile Companion device and special smart fall sensor, and not the in-home wearable help button.

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 Starting Costs 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: 7.5/10

Only three 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: 6.3/10

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.

Rounding out the top five most affordable companies is Medical Alert. Medical Alert offers a simplified product catalog of one in-home system, available with either landline or cellular connectivity, and one mobile device. The company earned a perfect 10/10 score in the Cost Transparency category and ranked in the top two for the affordability of its in-home systems. Medical Alert can be an excellent option for those looking to keep things simple and avoid any surprise fees.

Home Landline Home Cellular Mobile System
Monthly Cost $22.95 $32.95 $42.95
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 5 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes
Range Up to 800 feet Up to 800 feet N/A
Fall Detection $10 a month $10 a month $10 a month

Home Systems
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 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. The landline version costs $22.95, and the cellular version has a $10 upcharge.

Mobile System
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. Its battery lasts 5 days, and it comes equipped with GPS location services. This device costs $42.95 a month when paid on a monthly basis and $39.95 per month when paid for on a semi-annual or annual basis. Fall detection is an additional $10 a month.

Medical Alert’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 6.3/10

Medical Alert does not charge any device, activation, or installation fees for any of its systems. Some customers do have to pay $15.50 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: 8.8/10

Medical Alert ranked in second place for the affordability of its in-home systems. At $22.95 a month, the 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 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: 3.8/10

This is Medical Alert’s worst-performing category. Its Mobile device costs $42.95 with a monthly plan, which is more expensive than the industry average. Costs are reduced for customers who choose semi-annual or annual payment methods.

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: 6.7/10

Add-on devices from Medical Alert are reasonably priced compared to other companies. Its mobile app, Medical Alert Connect, is available free of charge for Medical Alert users, and even includes on-demand location tracking for Mobile users. Fall detection costs the standard $10 a month.

Alert1 Review

Alert1 offers five medical alert devices, all at prices around or below the industry average. It ranked in the top 3 for the affordability of its in-home systems and mobile devices, giving prospective customers looking to keep costs low plenty of options. Although some Alert1 devices do carry an activation fee, it offers discounts on all of its systems for customers who prepay for 10 months of service, helping keep its systems affordable.

Home Home Fall Detection On-the-Go On-the-Go Fall Detection On-the-Go + Home Fall Detection
Monthly Cost $28.95 $38.95 $38.95 $48.95 $58.95
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 In-home and mobile system
Connection Landline Landline or cellular Cellular Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 24-hour backup 24-hour backup 30 days 5 days 24 hours mobile; 24-hour backup in-home
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range 650 feet 650 feet N/A N/A N/A
Fall Detection $10 a month Included in monthly cost $10 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 costs $28.95 a month when paid monthly or $19.95 a month when prepaid for 10 months. Cellular service for the base station is included, so no landline is required. 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 $38.95 a month, including fall detection and cellular service.

On-the-Go
This portable system costs $38.95 a month when paid monthly or $29.95 a month when on the 10 month subscription plan. 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 $48.95. Like Alert1’s other mobile systems, the On-the-Go Fall Detection is an all-in-one, waterproof device. It uses Verizon and AT&T cellular networks, and has a battery life of 5 days. Prepaying for 10 months saves users almost $100 annually, bringing the cost to $39.95 per month.

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 $58.95 a month when paid monthly.

Alert1’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 6.3/10

Alert1 does not charge any device, installation, or shipping fees. All devices do carry an activation fee of $19.95. This activation fee may be waived for those who choose the 10 month prepay option.

In-Home Systems: 7.5/10

Alert1 earned the third-highest score for the affordability of its in-home systems. At a monthly cost of $28.95, Alert1’s in-home systems are slightly more expensive than some of its peers. However cellular connection is included in the monthly cost, which some other companies charge $10 for, helping to make Alert1’s pricing more attractive. Additionally, it offers a discount for those who prepay for 10 months of service, saving these users approximately $100 per year.

Mobile Systems: 7.5/10

Once again ranking in the 3rd position, Alert1’s mobile devices are some of the most affordable on this list. On the Go, its most basic mobile system costs $38.95 per month, which is average among the companies we reviewed. Making its devices more budget-friendly, the company offers a discount for those who prepay for 10 months bringing the monthly cost down to $29.95.

Cost Transparency: 6.6/10

It’s relatively easy to find important cost information on Alert1’s website. All base prices are clearly displayed in multiple pages on the site and a dedicated “Pricing” section on the Help page goes into detail about billing, refunds, and cancellations. It lost points because it can be difficult to find the Help page in the site’s navigation and because the $19.95 activation fee isn’t explicitly stated anywhere on the site prior to the purchase page, which could mislead some people into thinking there is no activation fee.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 2.2/10

This was Alert1’s worst-performing category, with a score of 2.2/10. Upgrading to a device with fall detection costs $10 with Alert1, which aligns with the industry standard. It offers lockboxes and wall-buttons for purchase, both for $39.95. Though this is higher than some other companies, the purchase option actually makes the devices less expensive over time than renting them for a monthly fee. However, the company lost points in this category because it does not offer any discount or deals on accessories.

Alert1 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.

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. Ranking in 7th overall for affordability, its prices tend to be slightly higher than some competitors. But, Medical Guardian offers high-quality systems with several premium add-on features, making the minor extra cost worth it for some. The company has a very informative and intuitive website so it’s 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 $39.95 $44.95
One-time Fees N/A N/A $124.95 $124.95 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 5 days 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 $39.95 a month plus a one-time device fee of $124.95. The portable device uses AT&T’s cellular network and has built-in GPS technology. Mobile Guardian can be used as a standalone portable device, but it comes as a two-part system. Included in the service plan is a small portable device that can be worn by itself or function as a mobile base station and a waterproof wearable help button. Users can choose whether to use both portions of the system or just the portable Mobile Guardian.

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 $44.95 a month with monthly and quarterly payments, or about $41 a month with an annual plan. There is no equipment fee.

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 and Mobile Guardian systems have 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 $12 for shipping, but the shipping fee is waived for those who pay for their devices annually.

In-Home Systems: 6.3/10

Medical Guardian’s in-home systems are slightly less expensive than average among the companies we reviewed. The Classic Guardian costs $29.95 a month, but requires a landline. Those who do not have a landline or would prefer 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: 5/10

Mobile systems from Medical Guardian are on the pricier side. The three mobile devices in its catalogue range in price from $39.95 to $44.95 a month, though paying annually reduces the cost by several dollars per month.

Cost Transparency: 8.8/10

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: 7.8/10

Medical Guardian offers a wide array of premium features and add-on devices, most of which are priced at or below the industry average. However, some are on the pricey side compared to competitors. 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. Notably, Medical Guardian devices all include access to a caregiver app and portal with location tracking for Mini and Mobile systems.

LifeFone Review

LifeFone offers five medical alert systems and numerous add-on features and devices. It ranked as the 8th most affordable company on our list and earned a perfect score for Cost Transparency. Though its prices may be slightly higher than average, with LifeFone, customers will have a clear idea of the costs they’re facing and do not have to worry about surprise charges.

At-Home At-Home Cellular At-Home & On-the-Go GPS At Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-in-Pendant VIPx
Monthly Cost $29.95 $34.95 $39.95 $43.95 $45.95
One-time fees N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Type of Device In-home system In-home system In-home and mobile system Mobile system Mobile system
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 32-hour backup 32-hour backup 24 hours; 30-hour backup 30 days 16 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shower-proof Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range 1,300 feet 1,300 feet 600 feet in-home, 350 feet mobile N/A N/A
Fall Detection $5 a month $5 a month  $10 a month $5 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 Pendant
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 up to 30 days, and is water-resistant and showerproof. The device costs $43.95 a month.

VIPx
VIPx, LifeFone’s newest and most advanced device, is a small, lightweight portable medical alert system. The all-in-one system is showerproof, has a long lasting battery with up to 16 days of power, and has advanced location tracking using cellular, WiFi, and GPS signals. It costs $45.95 a month and fall detection is available for an additional $5 a month.

LifeFone’s Cost Report
Starting Costs: 6.3/10

LifeFone ranked among the top four companies for low startup 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: 6.3/10

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 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 for both systems and reduce the cost by several dollars per month.

Mobile Systems: 5.0/10

LifeFone’s mobile systems are more pricey than some of its competitors. The least expensive of the three options, the At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, costs $39.95 and the most expensive option, the VIPx, costs $45.95 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, and users who pay for their devices on a quarterly or annual basis receive a discount of several dollars off per month.

Cost Transparency: 10/10

Along with three other companies, LifeFone earned a perfect score 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

LifeFone’s add-on services and devices are overall slightly more expensive than competitors. It charges $9 a month for on-demand location tracking for its mobile devices, which some competitors include for free. However, it offers fall detection for $5 a month, which is less than the industry average.

Medical Care Alert Review

Medical Care Alert offers three medical alert systems, including in-home and mobile options, all at affordable prices. It ranked ninth overall and earned its best scores in the Starting Costs and Cost of Add-Ons categories. Though its monthly costs may be a bit more expensive than competitors, the company offers a price lock guarantee so users can rest assured that their medical alert expenses will never increase.

HOME System HOME-LTE System (Cellular) HOME & AWAY ULTRA
Monthly Cost $29.95 $34.95 $39.95
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 72-hour backup 72-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

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-LTE 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-LTE 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 & 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: 7.5/10

Medical Care Alert does not charge 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: 6.3/10

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 system equipped with AT&T or Verizon LTE cellular service.

Mobile Systems: 5.0/10

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: 5.5/10

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, there is no way to find shipping costs prior to the purchase page. The “Shipping and Returns” page on the company’s website clearly and thoroughly explains the return process, but does not reveal shipping costs.

Cost Of Add-Ons: 8.9/10

Medical Care Alert’s add-on devices are some of the most affordable. A caregiver app including on-demand location tracking is included at no additional cost for HOME & AWAY ULTRA users, and customers who sign up for an annual plan for any device receive a free lockbox. Like many other companies, fall detection costs an additional $10 a month.

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 $40 $45 $50 $60 $75 $85
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 Direct: The 9-1-1 Direct 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 $40 a month, making it the least expensive RescueTouch plan.
  • Family Response: The Family Response plans are unmonitored, meaning that 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 device’s location via GPS. This plan costs $45 a month.
  • Family Response- Fall Detection: This plan includes the same features as the standard Family Response, with the addition of automatic fall detection. It costs $50 a month for a single device, or $75 a month for the Twin Pack plan which includes two devices that may be used to communicate with one another as walkie-talkies.
  • “The Whole Shabang”: RescueTouch’s “The Whole Shabang” plan connects 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 $60 a month for a single device, or $85 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 9

LifeStation

LifeStation tied as the tenth most affordable company on our list with an overall score of 5.5/10. Its in-home device is one of the least expensive on the market, and its mobile system is priced slightly better than average. But an outdated and confusing website, expensive add-on devices, and a device activation fee bring 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

LifeStation received average and above average scores in the In-Home System and Mobile Systems categories, but it charges a $50 activation fee for the mobile device. It fares poorly in Cost Transparency- information on its website is limited and sometimes contradictory, and detailed cost information is not available without calling a customer service representative.

ResponseNow

ResponseNow tied with LifeStation as the 10th most affordable medical alert company. Its product offerings include one in-home device and two mobile devices, all of which are priced slightly higher than average.

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 In-home 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 montly cost

ResponseNow received average and slightly below average scores in all ranking categories. It performed its best in “Cost of Add-Ons” with 5.6/10 points. Though fall detection is slightly more expensive than most companies’ services at $11.95 a month, the Belle+ device includes on-demand location tracking in the monthly cost.

Rescue Alert

Rescue Alert’s devices are priced higher than most other companies we reviewed, ranking at number 12 on our list. 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 a 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 2.5/10 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 13th out of 14 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 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 the companies we reviewed in our 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.

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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.

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