We know shopping for a medical alert system can be taxing. You want to be sure you are getting the very best when it comes to peace of mind, features, and price, but there are so many different choices. How do you know where to start?
We’re delighted to introduce a new series of articles designed to help you navigate the sometimes choppy waters of choosing the right medical alert system. We’ll compare two medical systems so you can see at a glance how they stack up.
Life Alert vs Bay Alarm Medical Comparison
|Features||Bay Alarm Medical||Life Alert|
|Landline or Cellular||Both||Both|
|Waterproof Help Button||Yes||Yes|
|Fall Detection Option||Yes||No|
|Pendant Battery Life||5 years||7 years|
|Monitoring Cost (lowest)||$19.95/mo (in-home system)||$49.95/mo*|
|Contracts and Cancellation||none, cancel anytime||3-year contract|
Landline Or Cellular
Life Alert offers both landline and cellular options, so even if you don’t have a traditional landline you can still use the system.
Bay Alarm Medical also offers an optional GPS system that can be used while out and about.
Pendant Help Button
Both companies offer a waterproof help button for their at-home system that can be worn as a bracelet or a pendant.
Both companies offer a portable GPS device that can be worn around the neck on a lanyard.
Life Alert doesn’t offer fall detection.
Bay Alarm Medical offers fall detection as an upgrade for an additional $9.95 per month.
In-Home System Range
Life Alert’s in-home system has a range of up to 800ft.
Bay Alarm Medical’s in-home system has a range of up to 1000ft.
Help Button Battery Life
Life Alert’s in-home system battery lasts for up to 7 years without needing recharging. Each unit has a 72-hour backup battery in case of main battery failure or power outages. Their mobile unit runs for up to 10 years (yes you read that right!) and never needs recharging.
Bay Alarm Medical’s in-home system battery lasts for up to 5 years without needing recharging. Should your battery fail, the unit sends an automatic message to the call center and a new battery is shipped out free of charge. Their mobile unit runs for up to 72 hours on a single charge.
As well as traditional medical alerts, Life Alert also offers a bathroom help button for shower or bath slips, and a home intrusion alert system that connects users directly to a call center for help and reassurance in the rare event of a break in.
Bay Alarm Medical offers free caregiver tracking using geofencing, so caregivers will know if their loved one leaves a specified area. They also offer free monitoring for a spouse or roommate (there is a fee to purchase the second pendant). Bi-lingual support (over 170 languages) is offered.
*Pricing information is not listed on the Life Alert website, data posted here has been gathered from other sources. Life Alert’s setup fee ranges from $96 – $198 depending on the service package and installation option. The monthly cost is $49.95 for the basic package.
Bay Alarm Medical does not charge any equipment or setup fees. Monitoring fees start at $19.95 monthly for in-home or $29.95 for mobile, or $49.95 monthly for both in-home and mobile bundled together. Fall detection costs an additional $9.95 monthly.
Contracts and Cancelation
Life Alert locks customers into a 3-year contract (most companies nowadays don’t do this). It seems the only way to get out of the three-year commitment is to provide proof of the need for 24hr care or death of the customer.
Bay Alarm Medical doesn’t tie users into any length of contract, and there are no cancelation fees. However, they do not offer prorated refunds either, and as such we recommend starting out with a monthly or quarterly subscription if you’re not sure how long you will want the unit for. They also offer a 30-day free trial so you can try before you buy.
Surprising Life Alert Call for our secret shopper.
We decided to call Life Alert since the information listed on their website is very limited about pricing, etc… The following is the transcript from our writer who is an older female, not that it should matter…but, does it?
- “I phoned Life Alert at the number listed on the website.
- “Rodney” picked up. I said I had a question about the cost of the equipment and services, as these weren't listed at the website.
- He replied that they would need some information from me first and promptly asked for my zip code.
- I responded, “Pardon me, but I don't understand why you would need that to answer my questions.” [FTR, there was never any sign of needing this sort of info when looking at other such company websites: prices are laid out, period. This made me uneasy.]
- He waffled a bit and then pressed again for my zip code.
- I politely repeated my question about why Life Alert would need my zip code, that no one else I'd talked to had asked — and I heard a click, and within a couple of seconds heard the cool, condescending tones of “Paul,” saying he would answer my questions. He asked me why I might want this system: was it for someone with balance issues?
- I decided to go with that, said yes, adding I wasn't sure if it the system was needed yet, but I was planning ahead just in case and would appreciate knowing what this would cost.
- He pressed me for details on where we lived and for more info on the specific health issues involved.
- I said that I didn't understand why I would need to supply this information at this point, that other websites stated the cost of the equipment, which was much appreciated.
- Paul responded, loftily I thought, “Because it is a life-saving service, which has saved the lives of countless people, each one must be personally fitted.” [Just felt he was trying to intimidate me, play on the fears one might have for one's loved one. Thing is, from one alarm company to another, the equipment is nearly identical and you use it if and when you need to. Sure, the provider may well ask for more detailed info for their records, if that's valid, but only after you've signed on. ]
- I began to respond, politely, that I had talked with other such sites and no one had asked for such details …..
- And he hung up on me.”
If that conversation doesn't strike you as truly odd and so out of place, then perhaps we aren't on the same page….
Our Verdict: Life Alert vs Bay Alarm Medical
We are not a fan of contracts, so that alone is a mark against Life Alert. Additionally, transparency about costs and fees is a big deal to us and Life Alert's website offers only a “call for pricing” link. For those who would rather order online, there is no option for that which is concerning. As evidenced by our above-documented call, it seems like Life Alert may be pre-screening callers to see if they are a good fit for the product and if they need to bring in an installer instead of being transparent and open about the different pricing options.
Life Alert provides a system with a long track record, but Bay Alarm Medical gets our vote. We love Bay Alarm Medical's easy, no-fee setup and the fact that they don’t lock customers into long term contracts. They also offer fall detection, which Life Alert doesn't. Most of all, we love their customer service. Customer service is important to us and over the years we’ve found Bay Alarm Medical to be professional, friendly, easy to work with and dedicated to making sure our visitors are happy. Read our Bay Alarm Medical review to learn more.