Page Reviewed / Updated – October 15, 2020

A medical alert system helps ensure that a person gets prompt medical help at the touch of a button. It usually consists of a base station and a transmitter. When the transmitter gets activated, a trained dispatcher at a monitoring center receives the signal and communicates with the user or arranges for emergency assistance immediately.

Medical alert systems offer peace of mind for seniors and their caregivers and those who have functional limitations in performing activities of daily living or use mobility-assisted devices, such as canes, walkers or wheelchairs. These systems are also useful for individuals with a history of falls or medication management problems or who have hearing, vision or cognitive deficits. Anyone living with home safety hazards or in unsafe neighborhoods can benefit greatly from having a medical alert system in place.

When searching for medical alert systems, many people become confused by vague or even misleading marketing. Unless someone is an expert in the industry, it’s easy to end up purchasing a product that disappoints. This side-by-side comparison covers the factors that customers need to understand, but may not consider researching on their own.

This review compares Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Alert, two leaders in the medical alarm industry. Both companies are solid and have garnered many favorable reviews. In our extensive research, we’ve found that one appears to outweigh the other in terms of the money-saving options available and the information offered upfront.

Category Side By Side Comparison Bay Alarm Medical Medical Alert
Up-Front Equipment $0; $79 with bundles $0
Monthly Monitoring $19.95 $19.95
Activation Fee $0 $0
Contract Month-to-month Month-to-month
Shipping $9.95 Starting at $9.50; free with semiannual and annual subscriptions
Optional Monthly Add-On Services Caregiver tracking: $5 Protection plan: $5 covering up to $300 value Vial of life: Free with new subscriptions, additional kit $8.95 Protection plan: $5 covering up to $350 value
Special Pricing Yes, for AARP and USAA members None known
Water-Resistant Wearable Devices Yes Yes
Connection In-home: landline or cellular On the Go and Splitsecnd: cellular In-home: landline or cellular MobileElite: cellular
In-Home Range 1,000 feet
Battery life In-home: 32-hour backup On the Go: 3 days
Fall Detection $10 $10
GPS Locator Yes, with cellular services Yes, with cellular services
Coverage Away from Home Yes, with On the Go and Splitsecnd Yes, with MobileElite
24-Hour/USA Call Center Yes, service available in 180 languages Yes, service available in 140 languages
App for Subscribers and Caregivers Yes Yes
OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES Additional button with in-home system: $34.95 includes free monitoring for spouse Wall-mounted buttons: $5/month each or $10/month for four Extra wristband or lanyard help buttons: $1.95/month EMS-accessible lockbox: $39.95 Handcrafted, interchangeable pendants for personal help buttons: $27.95 EMS-accessible lockbox: free with annual subscription

Bay Alarm Medical

Bay Alarm Medical offers three in-home service tiers that are available for landline or cellular connections. Equipment for both options cover a range of 1,000 feet and come with a 32-hour backup battery. The company also offers On the Go, an all-in-one mobile device that utilizes GPS location tracking. An innovative in-car device, SplitSecnd, is available as well. The company also offers customizable bundles to help customers save money

Bay Alarm Medical doesn’t charge installation or activation fees, but they do charge a shipping fee of $9.95. It’s difficult to find this cost on the company’s website, but sales representatives can verify this over the phone or via chat. The shipping charge is waived for customers electing the semiannual payment option. The company also charges a hefty $79 equipment fee for its bundle packages.

Bay Alarm Medical’s Standard Protection option is designed for small living spaces and includes an in-home base unit and personal help button. Preferred Protection, with an in-home base unit, two wall buttons and personal help button, is ideal for residences with multiple high-risk fall areas, such as a kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. Premium Protection comes with an in-home base unit, four wall buttons and personal help button to help ensure added safety in multilevel homes.

Bay Alarm Medical is the first company to offer an in-car medical alert device. Splitsecnd is a vehicle plug-in that offers GPS capability, crash detection and two-way emergency communication. It also lets users save personal and medical data so first responders can access this critical information before arriving on the scene.

This provider offers a price-lock guarantee so the monthly rate never increases. Customers can easily switch plans if desired, and get a 30-day risk-free trial with no cancellation fee. Subscriptions can be canceled at any time; Bay Alarm will refund any unused months minus shipping costs.

Medical Alert

Medical Alert’s At Home landline system features a base unit and waterproof pendant or bracelet. The monthly cost is $22.95, or $19.95 and free shipping with semiannual payments. Medical Alert offers one month free and charges $18.29 per month for annual subscriptions. This option also includes a free lockbox and free shipping.

The No Landline option connects to AT&T’s 3G network. It comes with a base unit, neck button and wrist button for $32.95 per month. Customers can get free shipping and a rate of $29.95 per month with a semiannual subscription. Annual subscribers get one month free, free shipping, a free lockbox and a rate of $27.45 per month.

Medical Alert’s MobileElite system provides GPS location services and fall detection for emergency access away from the home. Its monthly fee is $37.95, which pays for an interchangeable, waterproof wrist/neck button and carrying case. The semiannual cost is $34.95 per month with free shipping, and the annual rate is $32.04 per month with one month free.

Like Bay Alarm Medical, Medical Alert doesn’t require a long-term commitment. Customers can cancel or change their subscriptions at any time. Medical Alert offers a 30-day, risk-free guarantee as well, providing a full refund minus shipping costs. Customers can receive a prorated refund for returned equipment after 30 days of its receipt date.

Bay Alarm Medical offers an optional protection plan that warrants one damaged or lost medical alert system per contractual year. The warranty covers 50% of any additional system and accessory replacement costs. The plan is not a legally binding document and can change.

Unlike Bay Alarm, Medical Alert doesn’t advertise locked-in rates. The website doesn’t offer a chat option, although it provides a customer care phone number, address, and online form for account-related questions. Shipping costs are extra when placing an order and start at $9.50.

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Our Pick

Both Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Alert offer the advantages of no activation or cancellation fees and a 30-day risk-free guarantee. They also both have landline and cellular options for the home, and mobile devices for use outside or on the road. Each utilizes AT&T networks for their connectivity. However, we determined that Bay Alarm Medical is the winner in our comparison.

Bay Alarm Medical outshines Medical Alert in several ways. Bay Alarm provides significantly more information about their offerings than its counterpart. For instance, this company explains the range and battery life of their products, while Medical Alert does not. Its customer service can assist more non-English users, and AARP and USAA members can receive special discounts with Bay Alarm, as well.

Bay Alarm Medical also offers free spouse monitoring and bundles that make services more economical, unlike Medical Alert. Customers looking for the most options with budget-friendly pricing may find that Bay Alarm Medical meets more of their needs than Medical Alert.