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Page Reviewed / Updated – November 11, 2020

Medical alert systems offer an array of technological solutions to help seniors remain independent in their homes and while out and about. These systems can enable communication with family and emergency services, detect falls and signal a user’s location in case of an emergency. With the wide variety of systems available, it can be difficult to decide on the right features and price point. Our side-by-side comparisons of the most popular medical alert systems are designed to lay out the facts in one convenient place and help seniors find the best devices for them.

Our comparison of Bay Alarm Medical and GreatCall systems found that, while both companies offer unique modern devices, the former’s prices are far more affordable. GreatCall’s senior-friendly smartphones are ideal for those who prefer socialization, and Bay Alarm Medical’s in-car system with crash detection is perfect for those who travel frequently. However, lower monthly monitoring fees paired with a Price-Lock Guarantee and no activation or device purchase fees make Bay Alarm Medical a more attractive all-around option in this comparison.

Category Side-By-Side Comparison Bay Alarm Medical

GreatCall
COSTS
Up-Front Equipment $0 $49.99 per device
Monthly Monitoring $19.95 – $39.95

+$10 for optional fall detection monitoring on all devices

$24.99 – $39.99


Activation Fee $0 $35
Contract No contract; month-to-month, annual and semiannual plans

No contract; month-to-month plans with full refund of unused services upon cancellation

Optional Monthly Add-On Services Fall detection monitoring – $10

Caregiver tracking app – up to $5

Additional spouse or roommate buttons – $3 4G/LTE cellular connection for in-home units – $10
Device insurance – $5 Caregiver tracking app – up to $5

FEATURES
Water-Resistant Wearable Devices Pendant or wristband Pendant or wristband

Connection Landline or cellular (AT&T network) Cellular (Verizon network)
Two-Way Voice Communication Through in-home base stations and wearable pendant

Available in all devices

Range (from in-home base unit for landline service) Up to 1000 feet Unlimited range on all units

Battery life Up to 3 days of rechargeable battery life in mobile units

32-hour battery backup in all home base units

Up to 24 hours of rechargeable battery life in Lively Mobile Plus devices Up to 4 months of rechargeable battery life in Lively Wearable2 devices
FALL DETECTION, LOCATION and RESPONSE SERVICE
Fall Detection For an additional $10 per month with all devices

Available with Lively Wearable2 and Lively Mobile Plus as part of the Ultimate plan

GPS Locator Included with On The Go and On The Road devices

Included with all devices

Coverage Away From Home Included with On The Go and On The Road devices Included with all devices

24/7 USA Call Center Yes; two U.S.-based call stations in case one experiences issues

Yes; highly trained 5Star urgent response experts

OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES
Bella Charms to personalize wearable devices and turn them into jewelry Hanging and wall-mounted lockboxes Additional alert buttons for spouses and roommates Urgent Care program connects users to registered nurses and allows them to renew routine prescriptions and get medical advice from the comfort of their own homes. Caregiver tracking app shows location and activity levels to trusted users.

Overview of Bay Alarm Medical

Bay Alarm Medical is one of the top medical alert companies in the United States, and it markets its devices not only to seniors, but to travelers and active young people as well. This company offers a unique device specially designed for the car, and all of its systems can be set to contact loved ones instead of emergency services. Wearable devices can be fashioned with Bella Charms to increase their aesthetic appeal. Bay Alarm Medical’s home plans start at $19.95 per month, and its devices come with no upfront fees. Its On The Go monitoring plan costs $24.95 per month, making it one of the most affordable mobile plans on the market. With 360° Protection, home, car and mobile monitoring is available for $39.95 per month.

Pros:

  • In The Car devices have automatic crash detection and response dispatch.
  • Price-Lock Guarantee keeps prices steady for the length of the subscription period.
  • Fall detection is available with any plan.
  • Plans have low monthly prices and no up-front fees.
  • Bella Charms allow users to personalize wearable devices.

Cons:

  • No smartwatch or smartphone devices available
  • Shipping fees for devices with month-to-month plans
  • Limited range with base-anchored devices

Overview of GreatCall

GreatCall is a mobile-only medical alert company offering a variety of senior-friendly tech options, such as the Jitterbug smartphone series. These simplified smartphones are designed to be easy to navigate and can be connected to wearable medical alert devices, including the Lively Wearable2, a smartwatch-style alert device. The Lively Wearable2 enables voice-to-text communication, has a step counter and can be worn on the wrist or as a pendant.

GreatCall is a mobile-only medical alert company offering a variety of senior-friendly tech options, such as the Jitterbug smartphone series. These simplified smartphones are designed to be easy to navigate and can be connected to wearable medical alert devices, including the Lively Wearable2, a smartwatch-style alert device. The Lively Wearable2 enables voice-to-text communication, has a step counter and can be worn on the wrist or as a pendant.

Unlike many of its competitors, GreatCall charges both device purchase and activation fees. Its plans are also slightly more costly than the industry standard, with its basic coverage starting at $24.99 per month. The Ultimate plan, which includes caregiver tracking and Urgent Care telephone services, costs $39.99 per month and is the only plan that provides fall detection monitoring.

Pros:

  • Offers the smartwatch-style Lively Wearable2, with a step counter and daily health tips
  • Offers a simplified smartphone series for seniors
  • Mobile-only means no base stations and coverage anywhere within the Verizon network
  • Free cancellation within 30 days

Cons:

  • High one-time fees for activation and device purchase
  • Monthly plan prices slightly higher than industry averages
  • Fall detection monitoring only in the most expensive plan

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Our Pick

Both Bay Alarm Medical and GreatCall offer unique technological solutions for seniors. While GreatCall’s smartphones and smartwatches may be ideal for seniors who value ease of communication, Bay Alarm Medical’s In The Car device with automatic crash detection and emergency dispatch may be a better choice for seniors who travel frequently.

When comparing prices, Bay Alarm Medical is the clear winner. Its basic monthly plan is $5 per month cheaper than GreatCall, and it charges no activation or device purchase fees, unlike its competitor. Bay Alarm Medical’s Price-Lock Guarantee and affordable fall detection add-on for all plans cement its spot as the winner of this comparison.

Eldercare Financial Assistance Locator

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  • Search over 400 Programs