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Are medical alert systems covered by medicare?

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In this article we’ll discuss:

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Some people may be curious if Medicare covers medical alert systems? Medical alert systems can provide a great deal of peace of mind for both seniors and their caregivers, but the cost of these systems can be prohibitive. There is a sense of comfort when wearing a medical alert device. You simply press a button to request assistance. 

These devices are usually connected to telephone lines or wireless networks. If there’s an emergency, the company that supplies the system is alerted that you need help and may contact you by phone or send an ambulance.

Will Medicare Cover Medical Alert Systems?

Medicare does not cover medical alert systems. Original Medicare, which includes Medicare Parts A and B, doesn’t pay for medical alert systems because they are not typically considered to be medically necessary. They do not directly improve a your health in the same way that a device like a blood glucose monitor will help manage diabetes.

  • Medicare Part B covers durable medical equipment such as crutches, wheelchairs or walkers. Unfortunately, medical alert systems are not considered durable medical equipment. That is why Medicare does not cover the cost of a medical alert system.
  • Medicare supplement insurance plans (also known as Medigap) can help cover some of the out-of-pocket expenses associated with Medicare, such as your co-payments and deductibles. However, since Original Medicare will not cover medical alert systems, and as a result, Medigap won’t cover these types of systems.
  • Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, is a private insurance plan that provides coverage for Medicare services. Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits and services not covered by Medicare, such as medical alert systems. To find out if your Medicare Advantage plan covers these medical devices, you should check with your plan provider. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can check with your plan to see if it covers these systems. Medicare Advantage plans offer the same coverage as Original Medicare (excluding hospice care, which is covered by Part A), and may also include additional benefits. It’s worth checking with your specific Medicare Advantage plan to see what may be covered.

Life Alert and the Top Medical Alert Systems

There are many companies that offer medical alert systems, and the top 5 may vary depending on your specific needs and preferences. Some popular medical alert companies that offer medical alert systems include:

  1. Life Alert is a medical alert system specifically designed to protect seniors and all family members in a home health emergency.
  2. Philips Lifeline: Philips Lifeline offers a range of medical alert systems, including in-home and mobile options. They also offer fall detection and medication management services.
  3. Medical Guardian: Medical Guardian offers a range of medical alert systems, including in-home, on-the-go, and fall detection options. They also offer GPS tracking and medical monitoring services.
  4. Bay Alarm Medical: Bay Alarm Medical offers in-home and mobile medical alert systems, as well as fall detection and GPS tracking options.
  5. LifeFone: This company offers a range of alert systems, including in-home systems, mobile systems, and fall detection devices.

It’s important to research and compare different systems to find the one that best meets your needs and budget. You may want to consider factors such as the range of the system, the availability of 24/7 monitoring, and the cost of the monthly service.

How Much does a medical alert device cost?

There are many types of medical alert systems available on the market, and the cost can vary significantly depending on the features and services included. Basic systems typically cost between $20 and $50 per month, although the upfront cost for the equipment can vary. More advanced systems with additional features, such as fall detection or GPS tracking, may cost more. Some systems are sold as one-time purchases for a single fee, while others are available for rent or through a subscription service. If you’re looking to get medical alert technology, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare different systems to find the best fit for your needs and budget.

Is there a way to help pay for medical alert system costs?

How can you get financial assistance or a free medical alert system since Original Medicare doesn’t cover medical alert systems? Medical alert systems like Life Alert and Philips Lifeline Medical Alert typically have additional fees, such as the cost of the system itself, an initiation or activation fee, and a monthly fee. To get help with paying for a personal emergency response system, you may want to consider the following options:

  1. Discount Programs: Certain discount programs, such as AARP and Veterans Benefits, may offer coverage for medical alert systems. It’s also possible that a long-term care policy may cover these costs. Each plan has its own set of benefits, so if you have other forms of insurance in addition to Medicare coverage, it’s a good idea to check with your provider(s) about the availability of benefits for medical alert systems. Membership programs such as AAA and AARP may provide discounts on the cost of medical alert systems. In addition, independent living or assisted living communities may provide wearable devices to residents. It may be worth looking into these options if you are interested in obtaining a medical alert system.
  2. Tax deductions: In some cases, you may be able to deduct all or a portion of the expenses associated with a medical alert system on your taxes. Consult with a tax professional to see if your situation will qualify you for these deductions.
  3. Reach out to the company: You can contact the company directly to see what kind of discounts are available. Some companies offer discounts based on your local hospital, memberships in organizations and even your income level.

Will Medicaid Cover Alert Devices?

Even if Medicare doesn’t cover a medical alert system, Medicaid may. If you qualify for Medicaid in your state, you can check to see if it provides coverage for medical alert systems. Some state Medicaid programs can help cover part or all of the expenses for the medical alert system cost. This can be extremely helpful as medical alert systems can cost anywhere from $30-50+ a month.

Frequently Asked Questions

Medicare, which is made up of Part A and Part B, does not pay for Life Alert or any other personal emergency response systems (PERS). Medicare does not consider PERS to be medically necessary and therefore does not cover them. However, some Medicare Advantage plans, which are alternative options to original Medicare, may include PERS as part of their preventive health services. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may want to check if it covers PERS as part of its supplemental coverage.

The average cost of a medical alert system depends on several factors such as the type of system, the features included, and any additional services offered. Generally speaking, basic systems with limited features can cost around $25–$30 per month while more advanced systems with additional features can cost up to $60–$80 per month. These costs usually cover the device itself, installation, monitoring, and technical support. Some companies also offer discounts for seniors or those on limited incomes. In addition to the monthly fee, you may also need to pay a one-time activation fee and/or a cancellation fee depending on your agreement. It is important to do your research and compare different medical alert systems in order to find one that best fits your needs and budget.

AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, highly recommends medical alert systems for seniors and those with disabilities who want to remain independent at home. Lifeline is one of the companies that AARP recommends. AARP members receive discounts on this system, making it even more affordable. They offer 15% off Lifeline's Medical Alert Service. Their offer is available online and by phone and you need to mention your AARP membership number when calling Lifeline.

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