Medical Care Alert
Known for its award-winning customer service and monitoring, Medical Care Alert is a personal emergency response company that’s been around since 2012. Michigan based and family-owned, they offer customers three types of medical alert systems, including landline powered home-based systems and GPS-enabled systems for more active older adults.
One of the most enticing aspects of the Medical Care Alert systems is their price-lock guarantee. Once you choose a subscription, the price you agreed to will never go up, regardless of the economy. However, base pricing with Medical Care Alert tends to be higher than that of other systems and options such as fall detection come at an additional cost.
Will Medical Care Alert’s systems compare favorably to other medical alert brands, despite the higher costs and fewer add on options? I took a look at the Medical Care Alert systems, their billing options, monitoring standards, and policies regarding warranties, returns, and more. I then evaluated how these specs and standards matched up to those of other medical alert brands. Keep reading to find out what I learned.
How can I purchase a system from Medical Care Alerts?
Medical Care Alert systems are available for purchase online or over the phone. The company is quick to emphasize that you do not need to buy anything, as all equipment is leased. Ordering a system online takes about five minutes if you know which system you want to purchase. If you are unsure which system might work best for you, click on the “Order Now” button on the website’s front page. Here, you can select and customize your medical alert based on your answers to a series of questions.
Medical Care Alert offers three systems: HOME, HOME and YARD, and HOME and AWAY. The HOME and HOME and YARD systems are both intended for people who spend much of their time at home. The HOME and AWAY systems offer older adults who enjoy a more on-the-go lifestyle to continue doing so with the added confidence that they can reach help at the push of a button.
|HOME Medical Alert System||Lightweight waterproof emergency button|
Pendant or wristband
7-year battery life
72-hour backup battery for base station
Made in the USA
Sensitive whole-house, 2-way speaker
|Landline or Cellular||1,000 ft from base unit||Starting at $27.45|
|HOME & YARD Medical Alert System||Speak directly through 2-way pendant|
Belt clip, clip with velcro strap, or breakaway lanyard.
Four hours talk time
30-day battery life
Answer phone calls via pendant
|Landline||600 ft from base unit||Starting at $32.04|
|HOME & AWAY Mobile Medical Alert System||Three-day battery life on standby|
Reliable AT&T 4G LTE Wireless
Finds you fast with 3X location services (GPS, WiFi and Cellular triangulation.)
Weighs less than 2 ounces
|Cellular||United States||Starting at $36.62|
HOME Medical Alert
Ideal for older adults who spend most of their time at home and want to remain independent, the HOME Medical Alert system offers high-quality, U.S- made emergency buttons capable of a range up to 1,000 feet from the base station. That’s three football fields! To accommodate users in other parts of your home, the HOME Medical Alert system includes a sensitive whole-house, 2-way speaker. Subscription monitoring for this system begins at $27.45 a month. If you choose the annual payment plan for your subscription, you’ll receive a free EMS lockbox, one month free, and free USPS Priority shipping.
The HOME Medical Alert is also available using AT&T cellular starting at $32.04 per month. It requires no phone line. Although both the landline and cellular starting costs for this system may seem quite affordable, I’d be remiss not to mention that once you add optional services like fall detection, your monthly costs could be nearly $50 per month for a home-based system.
Installing the HOME Medical System is a breeze and takes only five minutes. When your package arrives, open it and plug the primary system into both the wall outlet and a nearby telephone jack. Once you’ve connected the system to the outlet and wall jack, press the button to verify the connection. Installation for the HOME cellular system follows the same directions but skips the phone jack connection.
HOME and YARD Medical Alert System
If you’re an older adult who is mildly active in and around your home, the HOME and YARD Medical Alert System may be an excellent choice for you. Starting at $32.04 a month, this two-way voice pendant has a 600-foot range from its base station. That’s similar to the range of a cordless phone. As an older adult, spending time outdoors is good for both your mental and physical health and can contribute to lower incidences of dementia, cognitive decline, immobility, and other diseases. I loved that the HOME and YARD system gives you enough range to continue activities you love such as tending to the garden, enjoying an afternoon breeze, or chatting over the fence with your neighbor with the assurance that you can speak directly with help should you need it.
Three choices are offered for carrying your emergency button: a belt clip, breakaway lanyard, or wristband/wheelchair strap holder. You may add up to three additional pendants to this plan for $60 each, making this an ideal choice for couples. Medical Care Alert will not charge you any additional monitoring fees. Setup for the HOME and YARD system is essentially the same as the HOME landline above, with a few variations. You will need to switch out/charge the battery in your pendant once a month, but it will remind you by stating “battery is low.”
HOME and AWAY Packages
Perfect for older adults who love to travel, volunteer, or live an active lifestyle, the GPS-enabled HOME and AWAY systems provide protection everywhere you go. Starting at $36.62 per month, this all-in-one system weighs less than two ounces and is made of shatterproof materials.
During an emergency, you won’t have to worry about communicating where you are to the monitoring center. The system uses a combination of GPS, WiFi and cellular signal to pinpoint your location. This system has a three-day battery life on standby, which is not uncommon for this type of product, although some brands such as Medical Guardian offer similar products with a five-day battery life.
The HOME and AWAY systems also come with a free smartphone app, RemoteCare 24/7, compatible with both Apple and Android devices. The app can locate your device if you lose it, give you medication or appointment reminders, update you on the weather, and more.
Medical alerts with GPS and two-way voice like the HOME and AWAY system may also help you feel more comfortable getting out and exercising or being more social. For example, you might take a walk around a nearby pond or attend an art class at the community center. After all, physical activity can reduce the risk of functional limitations in older adults and social interaction has been known to improve brain function, lower blood pressure and extend life. And who doesn’t want to improve and extend their healthy life?
Trial, Cancellations and Returns
I was disappointed by Medical Care Alert’s 14-day trial period since I knew many leading medical alert systems like Phillip’s LifeLife offer 30-day trials. On the other hand, some systems do not allow a trial period at all, so two weeks isn’t the worst-case scenario. One unique element of the risk-free trial is the owner requires buyers to test the system out. If the system has never been set up and connected to the monitoring center, Medical Care Alert will charge you a $50 reprogramming fee. If, however, you set it up, test it out, then return it, you’re only on the hook for shipping costs.
After your initial 14-day trial, Medical Care Alert will charge you for the subscription you selected at checkout. Should you need to cancel, you must call customer service. You will not be charged any cancellation fees. Once the company receives your equipment, they will refund any unused prepaid subscription. You are responsible for shipping costs and failing to return all your equipment in satisfactory condition will result in a $350 charge. This seemed like a fairly steep fee. I expected the company would, instead, base costs on actual damages.
Each subscription for a Medical Care Alert system comes with a lifetime warranty for issues with the base unit or emergency transmitter buttons caused by regular wear and tear. However, if your equipment is lost, damaged, or stolen, you’ll be responsible for the cost of repair if you do not have an extended protection plan.
Extended Protection Plan
Medical Care Alert’s Extended Protection Plan makes the allowances listed below.
Payment options for this plan are: $5 monthly, $15 quarterly, $30 semi-annually, $60 annually.
Protection Plan Pricing
|HOME Standard Button||Up to 2 replacements per year|
$29.95 Per Button After two replacements
|HOME Fall Detection Pendant||Limit 1 replacement per year|
$50 per pendant after one replacement
|HOME & YARD Pendant||Limit 1 replacement per year|
$50 Per Pendant after one replacement.
|HOME & AWAY GPS Pendant||Limit 1 replacement per year|
$150 Per Pendant after one replacement.
|All Systems||Limit 1 replacement per year|
$150 Per system after one replacement.
Three subscription monitoring plans are for all systems: Annual, Semi-Annual and Quarterly. The minimum monthly charge will increase based on any additional accessories or services you include in your plan. Minimum costs for each system based on your billing plan choice are listed in the chart below.
|Plan||Annual (1X per year)||Semi-Annual (2X per year)||Quarterly (4X per year)|
|HOME Medical Alert Landline||$27.45 ($329 annually)||$29.95 ($179 every six months)||$29.95 ($89.85 quarterly)|
|HOME Medical Alert Cellular||$32.04 ($384.45 annually)||$34.95 ($209.70 every six months)||$34.95 ($104.85 quarterly)|
|HOME & YARD||$32.04 ($384.45 annually)||$34.95 ($209.70 every six months)||$34.95 ($104.85 quarterly)|
|HOME & AWAY||$36.62 ($439.40 annually)||$39.95 ($239.70 every six months)||$39.95 ($119.85 quarterly)|
Savings Tip: Get one month of free service and a free EMS lockbox when you choose an annual plan.
Monitoring Centers and Operators
Medical Care Alert runs two U.S.-based monitoring centers, one in central New York and the other in Corona, California. These award-winning centers are UL-certified and have also earned a certification from the New York Fire Department.
With nearly 2,700 miles between each center, these centers serve as a redundancy for one another, ensuring that if one goes offline because of a loss of power or weather, the other is ready to continue serving users at full capacity. Each monitoring center also has a backup power system to make sure it’s independently capable of supporting Medical Care Alert’s subscribers.
Operators at Medical Care Alerts monitoring centers are top of the line. Each of them is EMT/EMD-certified, monitors medical alert calls only, has a minimum of two years of college or military service, and has completed an intensive six-week training program certified by the Security Industry Association (SIA). Each individual has also passed extensive background checks and screenings.
While most monitoring centers solely call your emergency contacts during a crisis, Medical Care Alert will automatically send an SMS text message in addition to a phone call upon dispatching emergency services.
Did You Know: Spanish-speaking operators are available 24/7 at Medical Care Alert’s monitoring centers. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is also provided.
Each year, 30% of older adults experience a fall. Often, in the aftermath of that fall, you may be unconscious or too injured to get up or call for help. When you cannot reach immediate help after a fall, it puts you at an even greater risk for further complications. For an additional $10, automatic fall detection can be added to any Medical Care Alert system. With this additional protection, your pendant will send an automatic signal to the monitoring center if it detects a fall, ensuring you always get the help you need.
Medical Care Alert provides first-rate monitoring and customer service without any hidden fees or requirements for long-term contracts. At $27.45, the brand’s lowest monthly subscription rate may seem high, especially considering brands like Bay Alarm Medical have systems that start at $19.95. However, Medical Care Alert offers a price-lock that’s guaranteed for life, a tempting option in a rocky economy.
While Medical Care Alert’s 14-day trial period is shorter than I would have liked and warranties without an extended monthly plan have limited benefits, the brand’s U.S.-based highly redundant monitoring centers and expert-trained call center operators coupled with its promise to never raise your rate continue to make Medical Care Alert a great choice for those searching for a medical alert with exceptional service and care for a long-term affordable price.
- Is there a contract or any hidden fees with Medical Care Alert?
Medical Care Alert does not require any long-term commitments and makes it easy to cancel. In addition, you will never pay any fees for set up, cancellation, activation, deposits or up-charges. The price of the subscription you choose is locked in for life, meaning the company will never raise the rate on you.
- My parents, who are aging, live with me. Would they need a medical alert system?
Even if your parents live with you, you aren’t together 24/7. You may go to work, run errands, and so on. Inevitably, there will be times when they are on their own at home, and, just like any other older adult, they might fall, have a stroke, or experience another medical emergency. A medical alert ensures that when you are out, your parents are only one push of a button away from emergency care, should they need it.
- Will my medical alert button go off accidentally?
To avoid false alarms, Medical Care Alert’s engineers designed the emergency call buttons to require a 1-2 press of the button before sending the monitoring center a signal. It is highly unlikely your button will go off accidentally when you bend over or you turn in your sleep. On the off chance that your button goes off accidentally, know that Medical Care Alert does not charge for false alarms.
- Will the Fall Detection pendant interfere with my pacemaker or defibrillator?
You should try to keep your fall detection pendant 6-12 inches away from your pacemaker or defibrillator at all times. For some individuals, this may mean wearing one of your devices on your hip. Since the fall detection button may interfere with some implanted medical devices, it’s always best to consult your doctor prior to purchasing a medical alert system.