Medical Alert

Medical Alert offers a highly reliable, easy-to-install medical alert service that uses AT&T’s 3G cellular network to give you the greatest possible mobility, all supported by highly trained emergency response personnel.

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9
Grand Score
8
User Score
9
Grand Score
8
User Score
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The medical alert business is made up of a small group of very large players – and a much larger group of small companies that might private label equipment from others.  Medical Alert belongs to the first group.

Connect America, Medical Alert’s parent company, is a nationwide company that has its corporate headquarters located outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is considered one of the pioneers in the industry. Over the decades, it has allowed millions of seniors to continue living independently at home instead of moving in with relatives or incurring the high costs of assisted living.

Medical Alert has grown its product offerings over the years from simple landline systems to cellular systems that use interactive 2-way technology in both home-based and totally mobile packages. It has also added a one-button 911 calling device that adds tremendous flexibility to seniors as they go about their activities away from home.  

Whether being served individually or through different retail and medical organizations, Medical Alert is ensuring greater independence to older Americans while giving their caretakers and loved ones the peace of mind of knowing they are being monitored 24 hours a day.

Grandfolk Scoring
Price 8/10
Shipping fee 9/10
Activation fee 10/10
Contract obligation 8/10
Cancellation fee 10/10
Warranty 10/10
Base unit range 8/10
Mobile device range 8/10
Landline requirement 10/10
Risk-free trial period 6/10
Equipment cost 10/10
Fall detection button 10/10
Wall-mounted button 8/10
Water-resistant pendant 10/10
Price
Monthly monitoring fee
$29.95-$41.95
Shipping fee
Equipment delivery
None on annual plan
Activation fee
Setting up service
None
Contract obligation
Length of commitment
3 months
Cancellation fee
To terminate service
None
Warranty
Replacement policy
Lifetime for defects
Base unit range
Effective signal distance
600 feet
Mobile device range
Effective signal distance
350 feet
Landline requirement
How system communicates
No, has cellular option
Risk-free trial period
Period for full refund
No
Equipment cost
Basic equipment purchase
None
Fall detection button
Is it available?
Yes
Wall-mounted button
Is it available?
No
Water-resistant pendant
Wearable in shower?
Yes
Age Score:
10
50-64 Years
10
65-74 Years
9
75-84 Years
7
85-Older

Medical Alert has a full range of products, making it very friendly to a person age 50-65 who is living alone and looking for peace of mind regarding a possible accident or unforeseen health event. The inexpensive Alert911 one-button mobile device is particularly appealing when the risk is low. As the user advances in age (65-75) but is still active, the On The Go MobileElite may become more appropriate with its GPS instant tracking capability. 

As the years pass and activity away from home declines, moving to the At Home (Landline or Cellular version) would result in small cost savings. Because the Medical Alert system has no wall-mounted buttons or medical monitoring online tools, its value decreases as age increases beyond 65-75. By 85, the system is most likely being managed by loved ones and caregivers, and the lack of monitoring tools at a distance can go from inconvenient to dangerous. The system would eventually have to be replaced by physical caregivers. 

Health Score:
10
Poor Health
10
Fair Health
9
Good Health
8
Great Health

The Alert911 is an inexpensive insurance policy that a healthy person can carry in a backpack or purse, ready to dial the nearest 9-1-1 operator in case of an emergency. As health declines and the possibility of a health event increases, having the GPS capability of the On The Go MobileElite unit would flesh out the coverage of the Alert911 with the ability to pinpoint the user’s location instantly in case of need.

As health transitions from fair to poor, and activity levels begin to lessen, the At Home (Landline or Cellular version) could be sufficient. The availability of a fall detection button in all of these systems adds to the overall value of the system, as the button functions automatically. Depending on the cause of the declining health (diabetes, for example), it could be leading to even more frequent falling. The lack of wall-mounted buttons is problematic as health declines. The absence of online monitoring tools, as health reaches the level of poor, may mean having to change to another company’s system. Eventually, any system will have to be replaced by a physical caregiver. 
 

Pros:

The advantages Medical Alert brings to seniors are plentiful. They include:

  • Three basic configurations that protect you exactly as you live your life: a landline system for at home, a cellular system for at home and a mobile system that can be used both away from home and at home (all of which include a waterproof ‘wearable,’ either a pendant or a wrist button).
  • A separate one-button mobile unit that calls 9-1-1 wherever you are and lets you talk to the operator, for a reasonable monthly fee (not GPS).
  • An optional fall detection button that can be added to the system and a lockbox provided for free with the annual pay plan on the two home-based systems. 
  • Instant location tracking with the GPS-enabled mobile On The Go alert system that saves the critical minutes spent attempting to dial 9-1-1 or having first responders trying to locate you using old cell-tower technology.
  • No-cost cellular service through AT&T’s 3G network that frees you from needing a landline and means you are covered even when local telephone service might be down.
  • 24/7/365 access to top-notch emergency response operators who are US-based and highly trained.
  • No contracts to sign and, after the initial 90-day period, the service becomes month-to-month, cancellable upon 30 days notice and return of equipment, with a prompt refund of any prorated prepaid money. 
  • Braille characters on ‘emergency’, ‘home’, and ‘clear’ buttons on the base station.

Medical Alert has kept its offerings relatively straightforward while covering all the basic needs at home and away so seniors can feel safe wherever they might be. The addition of the Alert911 one-button cell-based device at a reasonable price offers even more flexibility. 

Cons:

Medical Alert has several drawbacks in what it offers to seniors:

  • Some areas in the US where AT&T’s cellular network is not available or is spotty, in which case Medical Alert is not a good option for you if you don’t have a landline.  
  • Having to recharge the mobile device used in the On The Go system every night as the mobile system has no plugged-in base unit.
  • A required 3-month non-refundable deposit, equivalent to three months of service, after which the service can be cancelled with no penalty, but with 30 days advance notice. 
  • Emergency monitoring services that are outsourced to third parties, although their service provider gets high marks and is UL, FM and Department of Defense certified, with SIA-certified operators.
  • No wall-mounted buttons to add convenient help button locations;  also, no computer-based system so loved ones can monitor your condition from a distance.
  • No automatic testing of the system; customers are told to test manually each month.
  • Customer Service hours that are daily, but not 24/7, for Billing and Administrative issues.

While Medical Alert is very popular, serves many customers at any one time and has a good reputation as a reliable supplier, it does have some inconvenient requirements or limitations. 
 

Bottom Line:

Medical Alert, through its parent company Connect America, has played a major role in the medical alert industry for four decades, also being selected to offer its systems through many associations and health organizations. It offers high-quality, well-priced products. It also prides itself on fast response times from the highly qualified US-based monitoring center network that provides that service. While its range of accessories and add-on services is somewhat limited, a large number of seniors happily count on Medical Alert at any one time.  

We highly recommend Medical Alert if you are not looking for long distance monitoring of your activity and medical condition by loved ones through a computer or smartphone. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What exactly happens when I press the help button?
When you press the help button, a phone rings at Medical Alert’s emergency response center and an operator sees all your vital information on a screen. That allows that person to respond appropriately, based on instructions you had provided earlier of who you want to be contacted and how you want different situations handled. If you can speak, your voice will be picked up by the highly sensitive base station or mobile device microphones and a comforting 2-way conversation will take place to assess the situation. Someone will stay in contact with you until help arrives: either a friend or family member (in non-emergencies) or the Emergency Medical Service (in emergencies). There is no additional cost for this activity, but local costs (such as ambulance rides) will be your responsibility.


How do I know where my help button will work?
The effective range between help buttons and the At-Home base stations is rated for 400-600 feet, but many factors can affect their reach (construction of the house, weather, etc.) Therefore, Medical Alert recommends you test the distance by going to various areas of the house where you might go and check to see if the base station picks up your signal when you press the help button. (Be sure the emergency monitoring center knows you are doing this, so it does not register as a formal emergency call.) Also test outside the house, such as the path to the mailbox. If there are dead zones, you might want to move the base station or change to a mobile system that has fewer restrictions. 


Can I trust Medical Alert’s emergency monitoring service?
Medical Alert uses an excellent US-based emergency monitoring network made up of several UL-listed (UL 1981) interlinked centers that are staffed by SIA-certified operators. The network is UL-listed (UL 1981) and certified by Factory Mutual and the Department of Defense. The network is designed with redundancy in computer and telephone systems so one system kicks in if another goes down for any reason. Medical Alert also wants everyone to feel comfortable communication. For that reason, in addition to its operators being multilingual, they have access to International Language Line that translates 140 languages for them in real time. 
 

More Information:

Medical Alert System Overview

  • No cost for system equipment and no set-up fee
  • No contracts to sign beyond the initial 90-day commitment
  • If no landline, AT&T’s cellular network is available
  • Lifetime warranty against defects
  • State-of-the-art technology on equipment
  • System-enhancing fall detection, optional at an extra cost
  • Direct connection to top-notch emergency response operators 24/7/365


Package Details 

Medical Alert offers a choice of three different packages to meet your needs and circumstances. Besides the features listed in the system overview above, all three packages include:

  • Two waterproof ‘wearables’ (help buttons: one pendant and one wrist band)
  • Optional (add-on) fall detection button that works with all packages
  • Variable signal range between help button and base station (range test to be sure)
     

Medical Alert At Home Landline ($32.99 per month, or $329.89 per year) 27.49x12

The At Home Landline system works well for someone who does not need coverage much beyond the house. The one limitation is that you will not have service if you are in an area where telephone service sometimes goes down. 

  • Standard landline base station with 32-hour backup battery for power failures
  •  2-way voice communication through the base station
  • Plug-in phone cord and power supply
  • Free Shipping with semi-annual payment plan
  • Free Shipping and Lockbox, plus 1 month free, with annual payment plan
     

Medical Alert At Home (Cellular) No Landline ($37.99 per month, or $384.89 per year) 32.07x12

The At Home Cellular system works best for someone who does not have a landline available at home or lives where telephone service sometimes goes down. This system uses AT&T’s cellular network, at no extra cost to you, as long as adequate AT&T cell phone coverage is available.

  • Cellular base station with 36-hour backup battery for power failures
  •  2-way voice communication through the base station
  • Plug-in power supply
  • Free Shipping with semi-annual payment plan
  • Free Shipping and Lockbox, plus 1 month free, with annual payment plan


Medical Alert On The Go MobileElite ($42.99 per month, or $439.89 per year) 36.66x12

The On The Go MobileElite system uses a small mobile device the size of a deck of cards that you keep near you at all times, whether you are home or out and about, in town or across the country. This device replaces the base unit and provides cellular service through AT&T and GPS satellite tracking technology so you can be located immediately wherever you might need emergency medical assistance.

  • Mobile device (not waterproof) with 24-hour battery
  • Charging cradle with 1-hour charging cycle and 36-hour backup battery
  •  2-way voice communication through the mobile device
  • Lightweight, modern help button with interchangeable neck and wrist options
  • Convenient carrying pouch
  • Plug-in power supply
  • Free Shipping with semi-annual payment plan
  • Free Shipping, plus 1 month free, with annual payment plan


Exclusive Add-On Services    

Medical Alert Alert911 ($19.99 per month, or $239.88 per year) 19.99x12

Like a small one-button cell phone, press the button and the system dials 9-1-1 to connect you right away to a 9-1-1 operator. Not GPS-enabled, so location will have to be provided to the 9-1-1 operator. As an uninitialized device, it has no assigned a phone number, so no one can call you back. Works on any available cell network, not just AT&T. No airtime charges or fees for emergency calls. Cannot order online; one must fill out the form and Customer Service will call you.     


Medical Alert Protection Plan ($5/month) 

  • Up to $350 in savings per year to replace stolen, lost or damaged button


Medical Alert’s Fall Detection Button ($10/month; less on annual plan)

  • Automatically detects when you have fallen and calls for help
  • Not guaranteed 100% accurate despite its advanced technology
  • Comes as a pendant to be worn outside of your clothing
  • Communicates with either the base station or mobile device
  • Waterproof so it can be worn in the shower
  • Can be used as any other medical alert button even if you haven’t fallen


Optional Accessories: Lockbox (free with annual payment plan): to hold your house key securely where it is accessible to emergency responders who come to your aid when you cannot unlock your door


Additional Company Details

Contract Details: Emergency alert service is offered on a month-by-month basis, with no contractual commitment beyond the initial 90-day period. Medical Alert does offer some price breaks if you pay semi-annually or annually. Cancellation requires 30 days advance written notice and will be effective only once all equipment is received by Medical Alert. Failure to return all equipment in a satisfactory condition will result in a charge. No cancellation fees are due. The equipment belongs to Medical Alert and must be shipped back at your expense after obtaining a Return Authorization Code. Unused prepaid amounts will be refunded.  

Warranty: Medical Alert warrants that its equipment will be free from defect. It will replace any defective equipment at no charge. However, any equipment damaged or lost will need to be replaced at your expense, although the Medical Alert Protection Plan (at $5/month) covers up to $350 of such replacement costs. (At Home systems and Mobile Alert system cost $350 to replace, and Alert911 costs $150 to replace.) 

Design Philosophy: Medical Alert’s ‘wearables’ are simple and not overly obtrusive. 

Accreditations: Medical Alert is a member of the Medical Alert Monitoring Association (MAMA) and has in the past been endorsed by The Arthritis Association and Good Housekeeping. Its monitoring system is UL-listed and certified by Factory Mutual and the Department of Defense. The company’s rating with the Better Business is A+.

Company Size: Over the decades, Medical Alert’s parent, Connect America, has served over a million people reliably and it current monitors hundreds of thousands of seniors. Its founder has over 35 years in the security business and has built a strong management team, most of who have backgrounds in related industries as well. A good part of the growth has come from offering services to large retail chains and medical organizations.


Contact

Medical Alert
816 Park Way
Broomall, PA 19008
Phone: 1-800-906-0872
Email: [missing]
Website: https://www.medicalalert.com

Sharon O'Day - Senior Advisor

Sharon O’Day fixes financial lives. She is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can have more money, less stress and more joy. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategies, they take actions that lead to their ultimate goal: financial peace of mind.