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.
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.
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.
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.
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.