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Does Medicare cover medical alert systems?

Medical alert systems monitor vulnerable loved ones in case of an emergency. Instead of relying on your loved one to call 911, a medical alert system can immediately alert caregivers and the necessary medical personnel. They are also referred to as personal emergency response systems (PERS) or medical emergency response system (MERS).

Medical alert systems can take many forms, including smartwatches, in-home assistants and 2 communication systems.

With a medical alert system, elderly adults can maintain their independence. Relatives can also feel comfortable and have a sense of security with this decision.

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover medical alert systems. However, there are other ways to get help paying for them.

Medicare coverage of medical alert systems

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance and covers most necessary medical inpatient care, including hospital care, a nursing facility, hospice, lab tests, surgery and home care.

Meanwhile, Medicare Part B is medical insurance. It can cover clinical research, ambulance services and mental health services.

This insurance also provides coverage to durable medical equipment, which can be helpful for older adults.

Medicare Advantage plans tend to cover various health concerns and may include coverage for medical alert systems.

Does Medicare Advantage cover medical alert systems?

Some Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C plans, may include coverage for medical alert systems. It won’t be full coverage, but it can help you afford a system.

Does Medicaid cover medical alert systems?

Under Medicaid, medical alert systems are known as PERS (personal emergency response services), and they may be covered under programs such as Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS). Medicaid coverage differs state to state.

Types of medical alert systems

There are many different types of medical alert systems, including:

  • In-home assistants: Devices like Alexa or Google Home serve as in-home assistants that can dial relatives or friends for help. This can be un-reliable as the device may not be close when a senior needs help.
  • Smartphone/mobile devices: These can help seniors dial for help and the in-built GPS tracking system can help locate the patient.
  • Smartwatches: Smartwatches can help call 911 or friends and the GPS system can help locate seniors. They also have health monitoring systems that can flag any anomalies in normal body functions.
  • 2-way communication systems: Bracelets or pendants like Life Alert® or ADT® worn by patients or seniors can serve as 2-way communication systems and help communicate with a call center. The call center gauges the problem and dispatches help accordingly.

Other ways to help pay for a medical alert system

Although Medicare does not cover medical alert systems, other options exist to help pay for these devices. Some ways to make these systems more affordable for older adults include:

  • AARP: The Association of Retired Persons (AARP) gives members special discounts on specific medical alert systems.
  • Veteran Discounts: Through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), veterans can access discounted and, sometimes, free medical alert systems.

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