The 10 Best, Most Affordable Medical Alert Systems

Page Reviewed / Updated - April, 2019

When shopping for a medical alert device for yourself or a loved one, you have an ever-increasing number of companies to choose from. However, the quality of the systems and their price points can vary significantly between different companies. We took a look at all 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.

Based on our research, we found that Alert1, LifeStation, and MobileHelp offer the most affordable medical alert systems. Alert1 helps keep costs low with zero startup fees, and LifeStation and MobileHelp both offer in-home systems starting at just $19.95 a month, as well as mobile systems priced below the industry average. Other standout companies include QMedic and LifeFone, which both have excellent cost transparency and offer systems with zero startup costs.

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 (20%): Does the company charge any one-time or startup fees, such as activation or shipping?
  • Cost of In-Home Systems (30%): What is the monthly cost of the company’s least expensive in-home system?
  • Cost of Mobile Systems (30%): What is the monthly cost of the company’s least expensive portable system?
  • Cost Transparency (10%): How easy is 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

Alert1

7.9

1

10.0

6.3

8.6

10.0

4.0

LifeStation

7.4

2

5.0

8.8

10.0

2.9

5.0

MobileHelp

7.0

3

1.3

10.0

5.7

10.0

10.0

Bay Alarm Medical

6.9

4

7.5

6.3

7.2

5.7

8.0

QMedic

6.7

5

10.0

7.5

2.9

10.0

6.0

LifeFone

6.5

6

10.0

5.0

4.3

10.0

7.0

Medical Guardian

5.9

7

8.8

5.0

4.3

5.7

8.0

Medical Care Alert

5.8

8

6.3

5.0

4.3

8.6

9.0

Rescue Alert

4.1

9

10.0

2.5

2.9

1.4

3.0

ResponseNow

3.8

10

3.8

3.8

4.3

4.3

2.0

Philips Lifeline

1.5

11

0.0

1.3

1.4

7.2

0.0

Life Alert

0.6

12

2.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.0

Top 10 Most Affordable Medical Alert Systems

Alert1

The most affordable company we reviewed, Alert1 offers five medical alert devices, all at prices around or below the industry average. In our rankings, the company scored especially high for the affordability of their mobile devices, and received perfect scores for their starting costs and cost transparency. Alert1 offers discounts on all of its systems for customers who pay for their devices on a semi-annual or annual basis, making the plans even more affordable.

Overview of Alert1's Medical Alert Systems

Home

Home Fall Detection

On-the-Go

On-the-Go Fall Detection

On-the-Go + Home Fall Detection

Monthly Cost

$25.95

$36.95

$36.95

$47.95

$58.95

One-time fees

$50

$50

$50

$50

$50

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

Not available

Included in monthly cost

Not available

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, so customers without a landline must opt for the system with fall detection. Home costs $25.95 a month when paid for on a quarterly basis, or slightly less per month when paid for on a semi-annual or annual basis. 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. Users may opt to use a landline connection if they have one in their home.

On-the-Go

This portable system costs $26.95 a month when paid for on a quarterly basis, making it the least expensive of Alert1’s mobile offerings. 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 $47.95. 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 use AT&T’s cellular network. This plan costs $58.95 a month when paid for on a quarterly basis.

Alert1's Cost Report

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 10/10

Alert1 does not cause any one-time fees such as activation, device, or shipping fees. This applies for all devices and all payment plans, including quarterly payments.

In-Home Systems: 6.3/10

Alert1 received one of the top scores for the affordability of its in-home systems. The Home device costs $25.95 a month when paid for on a quarterly basis, but there are discounts available for customers who choose longer payment periods. Paying for this device on an annual basis brings the monthly price down to $19.95, which is currently the lowest in the industry.

Users who do not have a working landline must choose the Home Fall Detection system, which costs an extra $11 a month. There is an option to use a landline connection with the Home Fall Detection system, but the price is the same at $36.95 a month with a quarterly plan. Semi-annual and annual payment plans are slightly less expensive per month.

Mobile Systems: 8.6/10

Alert1’s mobile systems are the second most affordable of the companies we reviewed. On-the-Go costs $36.95 a month when paid for quarterly, and only $30.95 a month when paid for annually. The other mobile devices offer similar discounts for customers who choose longer payment periods.

Cost Transparency: 10/10

Base prices and extra fees for Alert1 devices are clearly listed on the website, making it easy for customers to select which payment plan best meets their needs. Contract and return information is readily available as well.

Cost of Add-Ons: 4/10

Upgrading to a device with fall detection costs $11 with Alert1, just slightly more than the industry standard of $10. They offer 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. Alert1 also offers a free lockbox for customers who pay for their devices semi-annually or annually.

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

LifeStation is the second most affordable medical alert company of the 12 that we reviewed. Their mobile device is the least expensive on the market, and they also received one of the top scores for affordability of their in-home system. Although LifeStation is not the best for cost transparency due to an outdated website, their devices are less expensive than many competitors, and customers can expect a low monthly monitoring bill.

Overview of LifeStation's Medical Alert Systems

In-Home Traditional

In-Home Plus

Mobile with GPS

Monthly Cost

$19.95

$26.95

$24.95

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

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

$5 a month

$5 a month

In-Home Traditional

The LifeStation In-Home Traditional is a standard, landline-based system. There is no option for cellular connection with this model, so users must have a landline in their home. The In-Home Traditional 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 $19.95 a month with a Standard payment package. Customers may also choose Select or Supreme packages, which come with additional features. The Select package costs $24.95 a month and includes fall detection or a device protection plan, which will cover replacement costs if a user’s device is damaged, lost, or stolen. The Supreme plan costs $34.95 a month and includes both fall detection and a device protection plan.

In-Home Plus

The In-Home Plus is a cellular-based version of the In-Home Traditional 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 $26.95 a month with a Standard package. The Select and Supreme packages cost $31.95 and $41.95, respectively. The packages are the same for all LifeStation devices, so the extra features that come with Select and Supreme packages are the same regardless of the device.

Mobile with GPS

Mobile with GPS 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 $24.95 with a Standard plan, which is the lowest price for a mobile system on the market today. The Select plan costs $29.95 a month, and the Supreme costs $34.95.

How LifeStation Scored

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 5.0/10

LifeStation is ranked 6th out of 12 companies for starting costs, mainly due to a $50 activation fee for their Mobile with GPS 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: 8.8/10

LifeStation’s in-home systems are the second most affordable of the companies we reviewed. They offer two in-home devices: one that requires a landline, and one that uses a cellular connection. LifeStation In Home, the landline option, costs $19.95 a month. Along with devices from two other companies, this is the least expensive option on the market.

The cellular system costs an extra $7, bringing the monthly cost to $26.95. This extra fee for cellular connection is around the industry average.

Mobile Systems: 10/10

LifeStation received the top score for the affordability of its portable device, Mobile with GPS. The device costs $24.95 a month, which is up to $20 less per month than some competitors. Although there are no discounts available, the low monthly monitoring cost still makes Mobile with GPS the most affordable mobile device on the market.

Cost Transparency: 2.9/10

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. The main website actually has some outdated information, and needs an update.

Their newer website, brochure.lifestation.com, has accurate information regarding monthly monitoring costs, but still lacks specific details about extra fees such as activation. LifeStation sales representatives are very forthcoming with this information if interested customers call the number listed on the website, but there is no way to sign up for service with LifeStation or fully understand their pricing without calling a representative.

Cost of Add-Ons: 5.0/10

LifeStation received an average score for the cost of their add-ons. Along with several other companies, LifeStation offers the lowest price for fall detection at $10 a month. Their Mobile with GPS device also includes on-demand location tracking at no extra cost.

However, both lockboxes and wall-mounted buttons from LifeStation are expensive compared to competitors. A lockbox costs $71.66 for two years of use, and the two-year cost for a wall-mounted button is $59.76. They do not offer any discounts for these devices or any of their add-ons.

MobileHelp

MobileHelp received the highest score in several categories, and it’s the third most affordable medical alert company. Their in-home systems and add-on features are the most affordable of any company, and they also received the number one ranking for cost transparency. MobileHelp offers systems at a low price compared to competitors, and is completely upfront with customers about their costs and fees.

Overview of MobileHelp's Medical Alert Systems

Classic

Solo

Duo

Monthly Cost

$19.95

$37.95

$41.95

One-time Fees

$49.95

N/A

N/A

Type of Device

In-home system

Mobile system

In-home and mobile system

Connection

Cellular

Cellular

Cellular

Battery Life

30-hour backup

24 hours

24 hours; 30-hour backup

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Shower-proof

Yes

Yes

Yes

Range

600 feet

N/A

600 feet

Fall Detection

$10 a month

$10 a month

$10 a month

Classic

The MobileHelp Classic is a standard in-home system that uses 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.

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.

Duo

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.

MobileHelp's Cost Report

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 1.3/10

This was the category in which MobileHelp performed the poorest. This is mainly because one of its devices, the MobileHelp Classic, carries a one-time fee of $49.95 for monthly subscribers. No other MobileHelp devices have any one-time fees. The only other startup cost is shipping, which costs $15 and 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 the affordability of its in-home systems. Their in-home system, the MobileHelp Classic, costs just $19.95 a month including cellular connection. Not only is this the least expensive in-home system with cellular connection, but it is also the most affordable in-home option overall, along with devices from two other companies. MobileHelp is one of the only medical alert companies that does not charge an extra monthly fee for cellular service in the home.

MobileHelp also offers discounts on this system if users pay for a longer period of time at once. Those who pay for the MobileHelp Classic quarterly, semi-annually, or annually receive free shipping and do not have to pay the one-time startup fee.

Mobile Systems: 5.7/10

Only three companies scored higher than MobileHelp in affordability of mobile systems. Their 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.

Cost Transparency: 10/10

MobileHelp was among three medical alert companies to receive a perfect score for cost transparency. All information regarding pricing and contracts is readily available and easy to find on MobileHelp's website, so customers know exactly what to expect when it's time to pay the bill.

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. They also received a slightly below average score for the cost of a wall-mounted alert button, which costs $48 for two years of use.

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.

Bay Alarm Medical

Another top-ranking company for affordability is Bay Alarm Medical. The company received high scores for the affordability of their mobile systems and the cost of add-on devices. If customers would like to add optional devices or extra features to their medical alert service, Bay Alarm Medical makes it easy to do without going over budget.

Overview of Bay Alarm Medical's Medical Alert Systems

In-Home (Landline)

In-Home (Cellular)

On the Go

360° Protection

Monthly Cost

$19.95

$29.95

$29.95

$59.95

One-time fees

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Type of Device

In-home system

In-home system

Mobile system

In-home and mobile system

Connection

Landline

Cellular

Cellular

Landline/Cellular

Battery Life

32-hour backup

32-hour backup

3 days

32-hour backup; 3-day mobile battery

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes (other than On the Road)

Shower-proof

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes (other than On the Road)

Range

1,000 feet

1,000 feet

N/A

1,000 feet

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

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 $29.95 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.

360 Protection

This is a bundle package that includes Bay Alarm Medical’s in-home system, On the Go, and an in-car device. It costs $59.95 a month with the landline in-home system. It costs an additional $10 to include the in-home cellular-based system.

Bay Alarm Medical's Cost Report

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 7.5/10

While Bay Alarm Medical does not charge device, activation, or installation fees for any of their devices, customers do have to pay $9.95 for shipping. The shipping fee is waived for customers who choose the semi-annual payment option. There are no other startup costs.

In-Home Systems: 6.3/10

Along with two other companies, Bay Alarm Medical offers the lowest price for an in-home system. Their in-home landline system costs just $19.95 a month. They do charge an extra fee of $10 for an in-home cellular connection, bringing the cost to $29.95 for those who do not have a landline. There are no discounts available for these systems.

Mobile Systems: 7.2/10

Bay Alarm Medicals offers one of the most affordable mobile systems. The On the Go device costs $29.95 a month, which is almost $10 less per month than the average cost. While there are no discounts available for those who choose to pay for their device semi-annually, all customers benefit from zero activation, device, or installation fees.

Cost Transparency: 5.7/10

Cost transparency is the category in which Bay Alarm Medical received its lowest score. 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: 8/10

Bay Alarm Medical received the third highest score for the affordability of their add-on devices. While their lockbox and wall-mounted buttons are a bit pricey at $46.80 and $70.80, respectively, for two years of use, other add-ons are less expensive than competitors. 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

QMedic keeps things simple with their easy-to-understand website and pricing structure, which is why they received a top score for cost transparency. QMedic also received a perfect score for starting costs. Customers interested in QMedic will have no trouble understanding the company’s pricing, and do not have to worry about any surprise fees appearing on the bill.

Overview of QMedic’s Medical Alert Systems

Landline

Cellular

Mobile GPS

Monthly Cost

$30.00

$30.00

$45.00

One-time Fees

N/A

N/A

N/A

Type of Device

In-home

In-home

Mobile

Connection

Landline

Cellular

Cellular

Battery Life

24-hour backup

24-hour backup

14 days

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Shower-proof

Yes

Yes

No

Range

800-1,000 feet

800-1,000 feet

N/A

Landline

QMedic’s Landline device is a classic in-home medical alert system. 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. This system costs $30 a month when paid for on a monthly basis, or $300 when paid for annually.

Cellular

This system is nearly identical to the Landline device. The only difference is that the Cellular uses AT&T network to connect to the monitoring center rather than a landline connection. All of the other features of the device are the same, as is the price. Cellular costs users $30 a month or $300 for the year.

Mobile GPS

QMedic’s only mobile device, the Mobile GPS, costs $45 a month or $400 a year when paid for on an annual basis. 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

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 10/10

QMedic received the highest possible score for their 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 and if they choose to pay monthly or annually. The only thing that QMedic customers will ever be billed for is their monthly monitoring service.

In-Home Systems: 7.5/10

Only two companies scored higher than QMedic for affordability of their in-home systems. While the base monthly cost of $30 is on the higher end for the industry, the discount for paying annually brings the cost down to $25 a month. Additionally, QMedic is one of the only medical alert companies that does not charge extra for in-home systems with cellular connection, which can save QMedic customers who do not have a landline over $100 per year compared to some competitors.

Mobile Systems: 2.9/10

The category in which QMedic received its lowest score is affordability of mobile systems. The Mobile GPS device costs $45 a month, while the average among companies we reviewed is approximately $37 a month. However, the discount QMedic offers for paying annually brings the cost of its mobile system down to $33.33 a month, making the device much more affordable.

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 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: 6/10

QMedic does not offer many add-on devices, causing it to score lower in this category than some of its competitors. The company does not offer fall detection or lockboxes and 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

One of the top six companies we reviewed for affordability, LifeFone received perfect scores for cost transparency and starting costs. 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 their in-home and mobile systems were around the industry average, but their low starting costs help keep LifeFone devices affordable compared to its competitors.

Overview of LifeFone’s Medical Alert Systems

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

$46.95

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 $46.95 a month.

LifeFone’s Cost Report

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 10/10

LifeFone is one of three companies to receive a perfect score for their starting costs. LifeFone does not charge any one-time fees, including shipping. This applies to all customers, even those who choose to pay for their devices on a monthly basis.

In-Home Systems: 5/10

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: 4.3/10

LifeFone’s mobile systems are more pricey than some of its competitors. The less expensive of their two systems, the At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, costs $39.95 with a monthly or quarterly plan, or $36.95 when paid for annually. Their other, more expensive mobile option costs $46.95 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 12 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: 7/10

LifeFone received high scores for the affordability of its lockboxes and wall-mounted buttons. The two-year cost for these devices is $29.95 for the lockbox and $39.95 for the wall button. They also offer fall detection for $10, the same price as many of their competitors.

While all LifeFone users can use a basic caregiver portal free of charge, users must pay an additional $9 a month for real-time location tracking. LifeFone also offers add-on services including medication reminders and daily check-in calls for an additional monthly fee.

Medical Guardian

Medical Guardian offers five medical alert systems, all of which come with free activation. The company offers several premium add-on features and received one of the top scores for the cost of add-ons, so customers can take advantage of the optional features while still keeping costs low.

Overview of Medical Guardian’s Medical Alert Systems

Classic Guardian

Home Guardian

Family Guardian

Mobile Guardian

Active Guardian

Monthly Cost

$29.95

$34.95

$79.95

$39.95

$49.95

One-time Fees

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Type of Device

In-Home Only

In-Home Only

In-Home Only

Mobile

Mobile

Connection

Landline

Cellular

Cellular

Cellular

Cellular

Battery Life

32-hour backup

30-hour backup

32-hour backup

24 hours

5 days

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Shower-Proof

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Range

1,300 feet

600 feet

1,300 feet

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, quarterly, or semi-annual 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, quarterly, or semi-annual payment plan, or $32.04 a month with an annual plan.

Family Guardian

The Family Guardian is an in-home system with extra activity tracking features. In addition to an in-home device with a cellular connection and wearable personal help button, the system includes two motion sensors and one door sensor for activity tracking, plus access to an online portal and mobile app. The app displays activity information detected from the motion sensors, and sends alerts to users’ friends and family in the event of periods of abnormal movement or inactivity. The comprehensive system costs $79.95 a month with most payment plans. The annual plan is slightly less expensive at $73.29 a month.

Mobile Guardian

The Mobile Guardian costs $39.95 a month, or $36.62 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. The battery life lasts up to 5 days between charges. The Active Guardian costs $49.95 a month with monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual plans, or $45.79 a month with an annual plan.

Medical Guardian’s Cost Report

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 8.8/10

Medical Guardian received one of the top scores in the starting costs category. There are no expensive startup costs such as activation or device fees. Customers do have to pay $9.50 for shipping unless they choose an annual payment plan. The shipping fee is waived for those who pay for their devices annually.

In-Home Systems: 5/10

Medical Guardian’s in-home systems prices are average when compared to the 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: 4.3/10

Mobile systems from Medical Guardian are on the pricier side. The Mobile Guardian, the less expensive of the two options, costs $39.95 a month, and the Active Guardian costs $49.95 a month. Discounts are available for both systems for customers who choose the annual payment option.

Cost Transparency: 5.7/10

The base prices for all Medical Guardian devices are clearly listed on the website. Information regarding contracts and returns is easy to find as well. The company lost points for cost transparency because it does not clearly state the cost of shipping. The exact shipping cost is not apparent until customers are in the process of ordering and paying for their device.

Cost of Add-Ons: 8/10

Affordability of add-ons is the category in which Medical Guardian performed the best. Only two companies ranked higher. Fall detection costs $10 a month, which is average, but their caregiver portals are free for customers to use. Lockboxes and wall-buttons from Medical Guardian are less expensive than many of its competitors, at only $2 a month each, or $48 for two years of use. Customers who pay for their service annually receive a free lockbox with their device.
Medical Care Alert

Medical Care Alert’s offers five different systems, including in-home and mobile options, all at affordable prices. They also received one of the top scores for cost of add-ons, helping keep overall costs down. Only one company that we reviewed ranked higher than Medical Care Alert for the affordability of their add-ons.

Overview of Medical Care Alert’s Medical Alert Systems

HOME System

HOME-3G System (Cellular)

HOME & YARD System

HOME & AWAY ELITE (GPS)

HOME & AWAY PRIMO (GPS & Wi-Fi)

Monthly Cost

$29.95

$34.95

$34.95

$39.95

$39.95

One-time Fees

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Type of Device

In-home system

In-home system

In-home system

Mobile system

Mobile system

Connection

Landline

Cellular

Landline

Cellular

Cellular

Battery Life

72-hour backup

72-hour backup

24-hour backup

36 hours

4 days

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Shower-proof

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Range

1,000 feet

1,000 feet

600 feet

N/A

N/A

Fall Detection

$10 a month

$10 a month

Not available

$10 a month

Not available

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 ELITE

HOME & AWAY ELITE 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 36 hours. HOME &  AWAY ELITE costs $39.95 a month, and is compatible with automatic fall detection for an additional $10 a month.

HOME & AWAY PRIMO

Medical Care Alert’s other mobile system is the HOME & AWAY PRIMO. It is also an all-in-one device, and has upgraded location detection with the addition of WiFi signaling. It also includes an on-demand location tracking feature, Track & Find. This system costs the same as the ELITE, at $39.95 a month.

Medical Care Alert’s Cost Report

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 6.3/10

Although Medical Care Alert does not charge any device, activation, or installation fees, 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: 5/10

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 an average price for the industry. Those without a landline must pay an extra $5 a month for the HOME-3G system, which runs on AT&T’s cellular network. The HOME-3G system is also slightly less expensive per month with an annual payment plan.

Mobile Systems: 4.3/10

Both of the mobile offerings from Medical Care Alert cost $39.95 with most payment plans, which is slightly higher than the industry average. However, both systems are available for a discounted price if customers choose to pay annually. The monthly cost with an annual payment plan goes down to $36.62. Plus, those plans come with free USPS priority shipping.

Cost Transparency: 8.6/10

Only 3 companies ranked higher than Medical Care Alert for cost transparency. The base prices of all of their systems, as well as information regarding returns and extra fees, is clearly listed on their website.

However, the payment structure is a bit confusing and unclear on the company’s 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 are likely to have to speak to a sales representative for clarity.

Cost of Add-Ons: 9/10

Medical Care Alert ranked second out of twelve companies for the affordability of their add-on devices. Like many other companies, fall detection costs an additional $10 a month. What makes Medical Care Alert stand out is the low cost of their lockboxes and wall-mounted buttons. Both of these devices are available for purchase for $29.95, 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, on-demand location tracking, Track & Find, is included at no cost for HOME & AWAY PRIMO users.
Rescue Alert

Rescue Alert’s devices are priced slightly higher than most other companies we reviewed, but they make up for it with their low startup fees. The company received a perfect score in the starting costs category, helping customers’ overall cost remain affordable.

Overview of Rescue Alert’s Medical Alert Systems

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

MXD

MXD is a standard, in-home device. It uses landline connection, but is also compatible with VoIP and cable for those who do not have a landline and do not want to pay an extra fee for cellular connection (it should be noted that these connection types are not as reliable as landline and cellular). The system includes a base station with a range of 600 feet and an 80-hour backup battery, and one waterproof wearable help button. MXD costs $32.95 a month with a monthly plan. Quarterly and annual payment options are available, and save users several dollars per month.

MXD3G

This in-home system uses AT&T’s cellular network rather than a landline connection. It costs $42.95 a month with a monthly plan, which includes a cellular connection. Quarterly and annual payment plans are slightly less expensive per month. The base station has a 60-hour backup battery and a range of 600 feet, and the wearable help button is waterproof and showerproof.

Rescue Alert GPS

This device is the only mobile option offered by Rescue Alert. It is an all-in-one device with a built-in two-way speaker and personal help button, and users have the choice of wearing it as a pendant or belt clip, or keeping it in their pocket. The portable device is water resistant and showerproof, and the battery lasts 48 hours between charges. Rescue Alert GPS costs $44.95 when paid for on a monthly basis, or slightly less when paid for quarterly or annually.

Rescue Alert’s Cost Report

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 10/10

Along with two other companies, Rescue Alert ranked first out of the twelve companies we reviewed in the starting costs category. Rescue Alert does not charge device, activation, or installation fees for any of its devices, and all customers receive free shipping regardless of which payment plan they choose. Given that some companies’ starting costs can reach over $100, having zero startup costs helps keep Rescue Alert devices affordable.

In-Home Systems: 2.5/10

The MXD devices are not as affordable as many in-home devices from other companies. The landline-based MXD costs $32.95 a month, which is higher than the industry average. The MXD3G costs an additional $10 a month for a cellular connection, bringing the monthly price to $42.95.

Discounts are available for both systems for customers who pay for their devices on a quarterly or annual basis. The monthly price for the MXD with a monthly or annual plan is $29.95 and $27.95, respectively. Paying for the MXD3G quarterly brings the monthly cost down to $39.95, and the monthly cost for the annual plan is $37.95.

Mobile Systems: 2.9/10

Rescue Alert’s mobile device is also not as affordable as most of its competitors. The Rescue Alert GPS costs $44.95 a month with a monthly plan, which is on the higher end for the industry. Discounts for quarterly and annual payments do bring the cost down to $39.95 a month and $37.95 a month, respectively. These prices are more on par with the rest of the industry.

Cost Transparency: 1.4/10

Rescue Alert did not perform well in the cost transparency category due to their bare-bones website. All of the base prices for their systems are clearly listed, including the different prices for monthly, quarterly, and annual payment plans for all of its devices.

However, for information regarding contracts, returns, shipping, or other fees, customers must call a sales representatives. Sales representatives answered the phone quickly and were forthcoming with the requested information.

Cost of Add-Ons: 3/10

Like most other medical alert companies, Rescue Alert charges an additional $10 a month for fall detection with its MXD devices (fall detection is not available with the Rescue Alert GPS). The company does not have a caregiver portal or offer on-demand location tracking services.

The two-year cost for wall-mounted buttons is $120, which is one of the most costly in the industry. Customers may purchase a lockbox from Rescue Alert for $39.99, which makes the two-year cost less expensive than many other companies. All customers also have the option of receiving a free lockbox when they order their device. The other option for the free gift is a second personal help button, which allows a second person to use a MXD or MXD3G device at no extra cost.

ResponseNow

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 particularly well for the cost of its mobile devices, making it a good choice for active seniors.

Overview of ResponseNow’s Medical Alert Systems

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 on a monthly basis. 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 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

Score

Description

Starting Costs: 3.8/10

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: 3.8/10

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 many 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 annual plan costs $24.95 a month.

Mobile Systems: 4.3/10

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: 4.3/10

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 are likely to need to call a sales representative with any questions.

Cost of Add-Ons: 2/10

ResponseNow’s add-on devices are more expensive than many other medical alert companies we reviewed. 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.

They do 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. They were ineligible for our rankings because they do not offer any in-home systems, so we could not accurately compare them to companies that do.

Their GreatCall Lively Mobile 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. 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 also 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 their 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.

EMS Response- 9-1-1 Caller

Family Response -Care Caller

Family Response- Fall Caller

EMS Response- Maximum Monitored Caller

Family Response- Chit Chat Twin Pack

EMS Response- Chit Chat Max. Monitored Twin Pack

Monthly Cost

$25

$35

$41

$51

$65

$69

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 purchase 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, 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 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 purchase 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

Philips Lifeline

Philips Lifeline ranked 11th out of 12 companies we reviewed for affordability. While they did score in the top 50% for cost transparency, their high device prices, multiple one-time fees, and costly add-on devices make them much less affordable than other companies we ranked.

HomeSafe

HomeSafe with AutoAlert

GoSafe 2

GoSafe

Monthly Cost

$29.95*

$44.95*

$44.95

$54.95**

One-time fees

$50

$50

$99.95

$149

Type of Device

In-home system

In-home system

Mobile system

In-home and mobile system

Connection

Landline or Cellular

Landline or Cellular

Cellular

Landline or Cellular

Battery Life

48-hour backup

48-hour backup

2-3 days

7 days; 48-hour backup

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Shower-proof

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Range

500 feet

500 feet

N/A

N/A

Fall Detection

Not available

Included

Included

Included

*The cellular model costs an extra $12 a month

**The cellular model costs an extra $10 a month

Philips Lifeline scored the lowest out of all companies for their starting costs. They are the only company we reviewed to charge a device fee, which ranges from $50 for in-home systems to $149 for their bundled system. Additionally, all customers pay between $19.95-$99 for device installation and shipping. They also charge 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. They consistently received the lowest ranking in several categories, including for the cost of their in-home and 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 20% of the final score, because although they are not recurring fees, they can add up and make a significant impact on customers’ overall cost. 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? This is different than a purchase fee, which arises when companies have customers purchase new equipment rather than lease their devices and return them at the end of service.
  • 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?
  • Miscellaneous Fees: Does the company charge any one-time fees other than those in the categories mentioned above?

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 also 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 10% of the overall ranking, because it does not directly affect the amount one pays if the company is transparent, but if they are not forthcoming about pricing a customer could end up paying more than they expect. 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 they 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: Does the company offer an online or mobile portal for caregivers? If so, does it carry an additional fee, and how much is the fee?
  • On-Demand Location Tracking: Is the feature available, and if so, how much extra does it cost per month?
  • 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, there are three main types of payments that contribute to the total cost – these are listed 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 overall cost of the system, 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, there are some companies in the industry that do. Cost transparency is key to ensure that you fully understand 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 minor 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.