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Does Medicare Cover Medical Alert Systems?
Medicare does not cover medical alert systems, neither will most insurance carriers, even with a doctor's written prescription. However, you should check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover your medical alert system. Some states have programs that will help Medicare beneficiaries, who meet certain criteria, pay for the alert systems. These programs are usually accessed through the local County Aging Services.
How Much Will a Medical Alert System Cost Me?
The best choice of a medical alert system for you will depend on your particular situation, budget, and needs. Here are some questions to ask before choosing a service:
- Is the service's call center outsourced or subcontracted, or owned by the equipment supplier?
- Does the call center handle more than medical emergencies (home alarms, etc)?
- Are the phone operators trained and certified and who does the training?
- What are the hours of operation for the call center?
- How does the call center ensure 100% uptime?
- Does a live operator answer all calls? If not, in what circumstances would a call go to voicemail?
- How does the call center handle your personal confidential medical information?
Other things to consider:
- Cost: There are two costs to medical alert services: the upfront equipment costs and the monthly service fees. Some companies charge activation or installation fees. The monthly service is the largest cost over time. Ask about payment options and contractual commitments.
- Warranty/Service: When comparing medical alert companies, find out if there is a refund policy, in case you are not satisfied with the service. Also, find out how the base unit and transmitter are serviced and maintained, as well as how they are replaced in the event they break or are lost.
Medical Alert System Features and Services
Medical alert companies offer a variety of features for their equipment. Features can include:
- Easy to read displays and illumination
- Braille lettering
- LED indicators for power (power on, low battery) and alarm status (shows if the alarm has been activated or not)
- Remote telephone answering capabilities, which allows you to answer and disconnect regular phone calls using your transmitter
- Backup power so that it will operate in event of a power outage
Types of services available include:
- Fall monitoring: This involves the use of a transmitter that detects falls, abnormal body movements, and/or extended periods of inactivity. When a fall or an unusual period of inactivity occurs, the system will automatically summon assistance. These special transmitters also have a button where the user can call for help manually.
- Call check-in: With this service a live operator will attempt to contact you via telephone at certain times during the day. When contact cannot be made in a specified time, your designated contacts will be notified.
What Should I Consider When Choosing a Medical Alert System Provider?
Medical alert systems are designed to provide help during an in-home emergency. They are useful for people who live alone and are at risk for medical emergencies such as heart attack, stroke, falls, and when someone needs monitoring during recovery from surgery. They can be life saving for anyone who may face an in-home medical emergency.
Medical alert systems attach to an existing phone line and you wear a small waterproof transmitter around your neck or wrist, which is pressed when there is an emergency. When pressed, the transmitter sends a signal to the in-home base unit, which dials a call center, where the call is answered by an operator. You will be able to speak to the operator without having to go to the phone. In fact, the more powerful systems are able to transmit conversations from most rooms in a home, even if the base unit is in one main room.
Once contact is made, the operator will ask you questions and arrange for the appropriate help. If the operator cannot make contact with you for any reason, the operator will immediately call for help. You or your family normally provides a list of contacts for this service, but in a real medical emergency the operator will call emergency medical personnel immediately.
There are three parts to medical alert systems:
- The panic button, which is can be a worn around the wrist or neck (it should be worn at all times).
- The base unit, which is plugged into a telephone jack.
- A rescue alert response center, which has 24-hour attendants who answer and respond to your needs.
Click here or call (800) 220-9469 to purchase a Medical Alert System for you or a loved one.