Page Reviewed / Updated – December 02, 2020

Small, lightweight and user-friendly, medical alert bracelets are gaining popularity among seniors who want to remain independent while staying safe. These wearable help buttons are linked to a medical alert base unit. When activated, the bracelet help button triggers a call to an emergency response call center, and the operator can converse with the caller via a speakerphone located on the system’s base unit. While there’s no doubt that personal emergency response systems can be invaluable, figuring out where to buy medical alert bracelets can be challenging.

Many medical alert companies use confusing marketing language, and that can make navigating a purchase difficult. To complicate matters further, consumers need to choose between buying a medical alert bracelet, or leasing one as part of a monitored medical alert subscription plan. To help simplify the process for seniors and their caregivers, this guide includes plain-language information on where medical alert bracelets are sold. There’s also information on the various ways consumers can sign up for a monitored medical alert system, and tips on finding the best medical alert bracelet for each situation.

Where Are Medical Alert Bracelets Sold?

Medical alert bracelets are largely sold directly through medical alert companies. These companies use e-commerce websites and telephone sales agents, rather than traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts.

To buy medical alert bracelets, consumers usually need to sign up for a monitored medical alert plan on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis. The medical alert company ships the pre-programmed medical alert bracelet directly to the consumer along with the base station that’s needed to link the bracelet to either a landline or cellular phone connection.

In fact, the vast majority of medical alert companies lease their medical alert hardware, including medical alert bracelets, as part of the monthly monitoring service. One medical alert bracelet or pendant-style medical alert button is usually included with each subscription, and customers often have the option to lease additional bracelets or help buttons for a few dollars a month.

Once the customer no longer needs the medical alert system, they need to return the hardware to the company to cancel their subscription and avoid being charged the full retail price for the medical alert bracelet.

Alternatively, it is possible to buy medical alert bracelets outright through a number of online merchants. Many of the medical alert bracelets that are available for purchase, rather than on a leased basis, are help buttons that connect to a self-monitored medical alert system. These medical alert systems allow users to program the system to dial a trusted friend, neighbor or 9-1-1, eliminating the ongoing costs of a subscription service.

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Is It Better To Buy or Lease a Medical Alert Bracelet?

Most medical alert subscribers opt to lease their medical alert bracelet as part of their medical alert subscription simply because this is often the easiest and most affordable option.

There are a number of pros to leasing, rather than buying, a medical alert bracelet:

  • No up-front cost
  • The bracelet comes with a fresh, non-rechargeable built-in battery that’s usually rated to last for between 2 and 5 years
  • Most medical alert companies can monitor the battery life in their medical alert bracelets remotely, and send out replacement bracelets when the battery is low
  • Subscribers know that the bracelet the lease is compatible with their medical alert system
  • Leasing a medical alert bracelet gives consumers access to the latest medical alert technology
  • Many medical alert companies offer free replacement for leased devices that are defective or damaged, saving consumers the hassle of dealing with a warranty or repair

Of course, there are times when it might make sense to buy medical alert bracelets outright. This includes situations such as when the consumer wants to purchase a self-monitored medical alert system, or a system that only dials 9-1-1 rather that a medical alert call monitoring center.

Some consumers also opt to buy a smartwatch that’s equipped with features such as automatic fall detection, GPS location tracking and emergency calling for use as a medical alert bracelet. In these situations, buying the device outright is often the only option, since most medical alert smartwatches are only available for purchase, rather than on a leased basis.