Getting help at the touch of a button should be as easy as it sounds. For years, Medical Alert has been offering entry-level systems for seniors who value simplicity. During our most recent round of testing, we wanted to see if the company’s straightforward approach has held up.
And we must say, we weren’t disappointed! Medical Alert has added in more senior-friendly features while maintaining low-cost solutions for their at-home and on-the-go systems. The brand has some of the lowest prices we’ve seen, which makes it competitive for folks on a budget or those interested in dipping their toes in the medical alert waters. And with no contracts or hidden fees, what you see is what you get.
It’s worth mentioning that Medical Alert’s wearable medical alert systems are sleeker and more fashionable than most others we’ve tried out. However, we did come across some disadvantages as well. But don’t worry, we’re going to share everything you need to know about Medical Alert, right here. Let’s jump in and see how these devices measure up to other options on the market.
Connect America is the company behind Medical Alert. This Philadelphia, PA-based company focuses entirely on personal emergency monitoring services, and has over 35 years of experience. Their emergency monitoring centers are UL-accredited and 5-diamond certified. While the 5-diamond cert sounds impressive, it’s actually fairly standard across the industry.
With a little sleuthing, we found that Connect America employees find it a culture-friendly place to work at.1 Typically, when a company cares about its employees, it usually values its users, too. Their core belief that “Connecting is Caring” seems to shine through every aspect of their business — from the happiness of their personnel to the 1 million+ customers they serve. Now that you have a better sense about Medical Alert’s history and values, let’s see how they stack up to others in the industry.
In our experience, signing up online was pretty straightforward. We found Medical Alert’s website fairly user-friendly and welcoming. But to be honest, it was also pretty outdated. One thing we liked is that they use bold letters and icons to make things easy on the eyes.
After selecting a month-to-month plan that fit our lifestyle and budget, we were then prompted to a screen where we could choose add-on features and upgrades (like their fall detection feature and $5 per month warranty plan).
Pro Tip: When purchasing a medical alert system, be careful when it comes to choosing upgrades and accessories. Your upfront costs and monthly fees can add up fast!
Then on to the final next step, which was filling out some personal info for shipping and billing. That was it! It only took a few minutes (much easier compared to GetSafe’s 7-step checkout process). Overall, we appreciated that the company has videos on their website explaining each product, and they make it a point to show how their fall detection service works. This was a nice touch compared to other brands we’ve looked at.
We’ve found that most medical alert equipment is fairly easy to set up. This time around, we tested out Medical Alert’s At-Home Landline system. If you go with this option, you’ll plug the cable into your phone line and follow the step-by-step instructions. Installing the system over a landline took us about 10 minutes. Not bad… but note that it wasn’t the easiest setup process we’ve experienced.
As for the On-the-Go system, we found these devices easier to set up than the landline system. Just follow these steps:
Did You Know: Medical Alert offers a risk-free, 30-day money-back guarantee. So if you’re not satisfied, you can return your system within 30 days from the equipment delivery date and receive a full refund less shipping costs.
Using a Medical Alert system is fairly simple, in our experience. If you or your loved one needs help, you just press the help button (really, that’s it!). As mentioned, installation only takes a few minutes, and if you run into any trouble, highly trained customer support staff are available to walk you through the process.
The company’s website also provides step-by-step instructions and video tutorials to help you along. Thankfully, all of this is a quick and painless process, which is exactly what we’re used to. And if you opt for the company’s $10 per month fall detection, you’ll have a little extra peace of mind knowing your device will automatically alert the monitoring center if you’re unable to.
FYI: Fall detection can be life-saving, but it isn’t 100% accurate from any brand. In the event of an emergency, you should always press your help button if able.
We’ve tested Medical Alert devices before and were pleasantly surprised to find that they’ve re-designed their mobile alert system into one of the sleeker, more appealing models we’ve seen. As far as comfort goes, the help button was lightweight, and we think it compares well to brands like Bay Alarm Medical and ADT Medical Alert. The handheld device also comes with a carrying case, which helps to keep it from slipping out of your grasp and/or getting damaged in any way.
We also liked that the neck and wrist buttons had a fashionable appearance — which is especially nice for a loved one who prefers a more stylish look. Medical Alert’s devices are waterproof, too. So we felt pretty comfortable taking a shower and washing dishes while wearing them. But keep in mind that this is a feature becoming more and more popular among most alert brands, so nothing exceptional here.
We’ve been doing this a long time, so fast response is important to us when testing out an alert. Thankfully, Medical Alert really came through for us. When we pushed the button, the agents came on the line in less than 30 seconds, which is slightly faster than the industry average. It wasn’t quite as fast as, say, Philips LifeLine, but it was fast enough in our opinion.
Medical Alert’s monitoring is just above average compared to many brands we’ve tested. The company holds what we consider the gold standard for monitoring. They have UL-certified, 5-diamond, interlinked monitoring centers in the U.S. that provide coverage in all 50 states as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.2
So, if you live in or travel to these specific areas, these alert systems could be the right choice for you. Also, Medical Alert personnel are made up of speakers of various languages (140 to be exact!). Real-time translation is also possible through the International Language Line, which is pretty neat if you ask us.3 So even if English isn’t your native language, you certainly won’t have to worry about getting the help you need.
FYI: Medical Alert’s annual plan offers one month of service free as well as free ground shipping (5-7 business days) and a free lockbox. Their semi-annual plan includes 6 months of service with free ground shipping.
Apart from speedy medical response times, customer service is one of our top priorities. We were able to get in touch with a Medical Alert service rep by phone. Our calls were always answered within a few minutes, and the agents we spoke to usually answered our questions in a helpful, courteous way.
However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. One small hiccup we came across is that Medical Alert’s website doesn’t offer a LiveChat option. So, it wasn’t convenient for quick questions, especially compared to ADT’s reps who were in touch within 30 seconds. To request more info, they asked that we fill in contact information so they could get back at us. While we were satisfied with Medical Alert’s customer service, it wasn’t the best we’ve seen in the industry.
Medical Alert’s equipment selection is simple and straightforward. Your base station and medical alert button are both included in the cost of the monthly plan. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay upfront costs for these essential devices. Here’s the full lineup of alert systems you can choose from:
This barebones service is a pretty decent deal at $22.95 per month (or $18.29 per month if you opt for the annual plan). This plan will give you protection in your home as long as you have a landline. The base unit will connect to the monitoring service if/when you press the water-resistant transmitter button. Unfortunately, Medical Alert only has a 600 ft range, which isn’t nearly as great as others we’ve tried (Medical Guardian offers a solid 1,300 ft., for instance). Here are the features included:
If you ditched your landline years ago, or you prefer to use a system that doesn’t depend on the phone line, this cellular option leverages AT&T to provide you with at-home protection. We’ve typically found cellular systems to be more reliable than landline-based systems. This one costs you $32.95 per month, and while there’s no equipment cost, you will have to return the devices if you cancel your subscription.
Medical Alert’s mobile service uses a travel-friendly version of the base unit and a water-resistant medical alert button to keep assistance close at hand. At $37.95 per month, we found this to be a sleeker, more modern design compared to the competition. You also get a charging cradle for your mobile device. But keep in mind, it’s one of the most expensive alert systems we’ve seen. The features of On the Go include:
For an extra $5 per month, Medical Alert will help you avoid steep out of pocket expenses up to $350 if your system gets lost, stolen, or damaged. We think this is a good value, as you don’t have to worry about being on the hook for expensive replacements.
Falls are dangerous for seniors. The optional fall protection service, which will cost you an added $10 per month, ensures that you get the medical attention you need even if you’re unable to press the button.
Did You Know: 1 in 4 Americans 65 and older falls each year. And falling once doubles your chances of falling again.4
A lockbox provides quick access to your door key if/when emergency personnel need to enter your home.5 We appreciated that Medical Alert offers this as a freebie with their annual subscriptions for their In-Home systems.
This is a free mobile app for subscribers and caregivers that allows you to easily keep an eye on all the Medical Alert subscribers in your care. We liked that the app comes with some neat caregiver features like instant notifications if/when a loved one presses their help button.
One of the more unique features you get with Medical Alert is that you can receive your choice of a $10 gift card for ordering your medical alert system online. You can choose from companies like Target, Amazon, Dunkin’ Donuts, Walmart, Kohl’s, and even Olive Garden.
Medical Alert’s blog is also a helpful resource for seniors that provides a bunch of how-to articles and advice for staying active and healthy. This really reflects the company’s values of making their customers feel a greater sense of independence.
All things considered, we enjoyed our recent round of Medical Alert testing. The brand offers affordable plans, and although they might not offer the latest bells and whistles, they have you covered for reliable alert systems with relatively fast response times.
Unfortunately, we would have liked to see better range/coverage for their in-home devices. In our opinion, 600-ft is not nearly as good when compared to the industry average. And their customer service and website could both use a little updating. Finally, Medical Alert really doesn’t have many add-ons to choose from. But overall, we think they put a lot of thought into their senior-friendly features.
If you’re on the fence about Medical Alert, we do think it’s a great alert system for the right person. Medical Alert is affordable, as there are no activation or equipment fees to worry about. But if you’re on a tight budget, we recommend checking out our top picks for the best affordable medical alert systems. We’ve rated and ranked our favorites to help you on your journey to finding the right fit.
Connect America. (2020). Glassdoor.
ConsumersAdvocate.org. (2020). Medical Alert by Connect America Review.
LanguageLine.com. (2020). Translation Services.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Important Facts About Falls.
AARP.org. (2010). Community Lockbox Program Provides Security In Case of Emergency.