If you have a medical emergency when you’re alone, medical alert systems can get you help quickly. These devices put you in contact with a dispatcher who can call emergency services.

Medical alert systems like the Lifeline system can help you live independently and stay safe. Depending on your circumstances, using a medical alert system could help you stay healthy and offer peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Medical alert systems put you in contact with emergency services when you’re facing a medical crisis. Medical alert devices can be home-based or wearable, allowing you to contact a dispatcher for help if you have an emergency at home or on the go.

Medical alert systems are often used by older adults and people with medical conditions that may require immediate assistance. They’re useful for people who want to live alone but want peace of mind in case of an emergency.

Types of medical alert systems

There are different types of medical alert systems:

  • wearable systems, like wristbands or pendants, some of which can detect falls
  • home systems, which are installed in your home
  • apps, which allow you to call for help by pressing a button
  • home assistant-integrated systems, which let you call for help through virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa

Some systems offer a range of connected medical alert functions. They might, for example, include both an app and a wearable wristband.

The type of medical alert system you choose depends on your specific needs. If you’re prone to falls, a fall-detection wristband or pendant will make more sense.

Lifeline Systems, Inc. was founded in 1974 by gerontologist Andrew Dibner, PhD, and his wife, Susan Schmidt Dibner, a sociologist. The company was widely recognized as the first company to sell personal emergency response systems in the United States.

Over the years, Lifeline developed waterproof personal alert buttons that could be used in the shower or bath, which is where many falls occur. The company went public in 1983 and was acquired by Philips in 2006.

In 2021, the company was acquired by Connect America. It currently offers two medical alert system models: a home system and a mobile system.

Home system

Lifeline’s HomeSafe system includes an in-home, two-way communicator and a wearable alert — you can opt for a pendant or wristband. When you press the button on your communicator or wearable, you’re put in contact with a dispatcher.

The device can connect to your landline or to your cellular device. If you want, you can opt for a fall detection device, which is a pendant worn around your neck. This device automatically detects a fall and calls for help, which means you can get assistance even if you can’t reach your button.

Mobile system

The Lifeline On the Go mobile solution has a help button that you can wear around your neck as a pendant. The pendant has a GPS locator, which enables the dispatcher to locate you quickly whether you’re at home or elsewhere. It includes fall detection technology, enabling a dispatcher to contact you if a fall is detected.

The pricing of medical alert systems can be complex. Most companies don’t charge one straightforward fee, but rather a number of one-off and monthly fees.

Home system

For Lifeline’s home system, pricing varies based on:

  • whether you choose a landline or cellular connection
  • whether you opt for AutoAlert, their fall detection technology
  • whether you install it yourself or request a technician to install it for you

To be specific, you could expect to pay the following:

  • Monthly fee: $29.95 to $44.95
  • Activation fee: $50
  • Installation and shipping fees: $24.95 (if you install it yourself) to $99 (if you get a technician to do it)

Mobile system

The mobile system has fewer variables, so the pricing is a little more straightforward. Instead of charging an activation fee, the company charges a device fee.

For the mobile system, you could expect to pay the following:

  • Monthly fee: $49.95
  • Device fee: $99.95
  • Installation and shipping fees: $24.95 (if you install it yourself) to $99 (if you get a technician to do it)

Trial period and warranty

Lifeline doesn’t offer a trial period or warranty, but they do allow you to return your device within 30 days.

Other features

Lifeline also offers two optional add-on features:

  • A Voice Extension communicator ($10 per month): This adds a second communicator to your home, enabling you to hear and speak to first responders from more areas in your home. This could be helpful if you have a large home and can’t hear the communicator from all areas in your house.
  • Key Lockbox ($29.95): If first responders need to get into your home quickly and you’re unable to lock the door, this key lockbox enables them to get a spare key and enter your home without forcibly entering it.

Whether you opt for the home system or mobile system, you’ll have the option of installing it yourself or having a technician visit your home to install it.

Home system

The home system includes a two-way communicator and a wearable button (either a wristband or a pendant).

When you press the help button on your communicator or wearable, the communicator speed-dials the response center. The communicator allows you to talk with the first responder and vice versa.

For an added fee, you can get a pendant that is enabled with AutoAlert, Lifeline’s fall detection technology. With AutoAlert, the pendant will automatically detect if you fall — and, even if you can’t press your help button, an alert will be sent to the response center.

Your help button allows you to send alerts from anywhere in your house as long as you’re within range of the communicator.

Mobile system

Lifeline’s On the Go Mobile system includes a help button, which you wear around your neck.

When you press the help button, your wearable will automatically dial the response center. The pendant itself works as a two-way communicator so that you can talk to the first responder and vice versa.

Your pendant is automatically enabled with AutoAlert, their fall detection technology. This means that the pendant can detect if you fall, sending an automatic alert to the response center even if you can’t press your help button.

The On the Go system allows you to call for help from everywhere, not just within your house.

Lifeline Cares App

The Lifeline Cares App allows Lifeline medical alert system users to keep their loved ones updated on their health. With your permission, your family and friends can download the app on their phone or computer and use it to get updates from you.

Through the app, you can get updates on whether the Lifeline user called for help, whether it was a false alarm or not, and other notes that they choose to share with you.

You can also:

  • view bills
  • change payment information
  • create and read notes
  • receive notifications if the device needs maintenance

The Lifeline Cares hub can be useful if your loved ones live far away or if you have multiple loved ones you want to update about your health status.

With Lifeline, you have two options: You can either set up your device yourself or have a technician visit your home to do it for you.

If you opt to set it up yourself, you’ll be charged an extra $24.95 for shipping and handling. If you want a technician to set it up for you, it will cost an extra $99 instead of $24.95.

GetSafe Medical Alert System

  • Equipment price: $79+
  • Subscription: starts at $27.95 a month, extra $10 per month for fall detection
  • Trial period: 30 days
  • Warranty: Yes, for an extra $5 a month
  • Setup and delivery: no setup fee, activation fee, or shipping fee

GetSafe offers a waterproof wearable device and a wall button, which allows you to get help by pulling a cord, pressing the button, or using the voice-activated feature to call 911.

Bay Alarm Medical

  • Equipment price: free for some products, $99+ for others
  • Subscription: starts at $24.95 a month, extra $10 per month for fall detection
  • Trial period: 30 days
  • Warranty: none
  • Setup and delivery: no fee, easy self-installation

Bay Alarm is a budget-friendly option: You don’t need to purchase the equipment, and the monthly fee is cheaper than most medical alert options. You can easily install the product yourself. It doesn’t require a landline.

ADT Health

  • Equipment price: free
  • Subscription: starts at $29.99 per month
  • Trial period: no
  • Warranty: yes
  • Setup and delivery: no setup fee, activation fee, or shipping fee

ADT Health is also a budget-friendly option, as there is no setup fee, activation fee, or shipping fee. It can also ship the next day, which is an added bonus. ADT Health has three different product options: Medical Alert Basic System, Medical Alert Plus System, and On-the-go System. Fall detection is available only for the last two options at an extra $10 per month.

Alert1

  • Equipment price: free
  • Subscription: starts at $29.95 per month when paying annually
  • Trial period: no
  • Warranty: will replace units if they malfunction; otherwise, you can pay for an Advantage Plan to cover replacements and repairs
  • Setup and delivery: no fee, easy self-installation

Alert1 offers six medical alert systems and numerous accessories. You can add a fall detection option for $10 per month.

NameEquipment priceSubscriptionTrial periodWarrantySetup and delivery
Philips Lifelinefree for home system, $99.95 for mobile system $29.95+ per monthnono$24.95+
GetSafe$79+$27.95+ per month30 daysyes, for an extra $5 a monthfree
Bay Alarm Medicalfree for some products, $99+ for others$24.95+ per month30 daysnonefree
ADT Healthfree$29.99+ per monthnoyesfree
AlertONEfree$29.95+ per monthnoyesfree

Lifeline is one of the oldest medical alert system companies in the United States. Overall, it has a positive reputation and receives positive reviews from customers and journalists on independent sites.

The company receives an average of 4.1 stars out of 5 on Consumer Affairs (based on around 190 ratings at time of publishing). Lifeline is accredited with the Better Business Bureau.

Many customers criticize Lifeline’s customer service, up-front costs, and cancellation fees. Others complain that they ordered their device and didn’t receive it for weeks after placing the order.

On the other hand, other customers praise their customer service. Many positive reviews note that they have quick response times and well-trained responders, and that their fall detection technology is accurate.

When shopping for a medical alert system, consider the following:

  • Fall detection: Falls can be a risk to people who live alone, especially older adults. Some medical alert systems automatically call for help when they detect falls. Some include fall detection for an added fee while others don’t offer it at all.
  • Home-based versus mobile systems: Mobile systems can be helpful if you leave your house by yourself from time to time, as they can call for help when you’re away from home.
  • Range: Some medical alert systems have a wider range than others. Consider the size of your house and garden when shopping for home-based medical alert systems.

When comparing prices, be sure to note:

  • Contract terms: Some medical alert systems have long-term contracts spanning multiple years, which makes it difficult to cancel. You might be charged a cancellation fee.
  • Hidden fees: Most companies charge for the equipment itself and a monthly subscription. They might also have installation, activation, and cancellation fees.
  • Additional fees: Some companies charge extra for options like fall detection and wearable help buttons.

Living alone can be challenging, especially if you have mobility or medical conditions. For many people, though, living independently is preferable or necessary.

Aside from medical alert systems, there are some ways to make living alone safer and healthier:

  • Regularly check in with loved ones: This can help reduce loneliness, give them peace of mind, and alert them if you’re unresponsive or out of contact.
  • Engage in regular exercise: This will help you maintain your strength and balance. It’s best to ask your doctor or a physiotherapist which exercises you should do and how frequently you should do them.
  • Care for your basic needs: Get enough sleep, water, and nutrition to keep your mind and body healthy.
  • Engage in hobbies: Hobbies can keep loneliness and at bay and stimulate your mind. Try something new or reignite your passion for a hobby you used to enjoy.

If you’re prone to falls, you can make your home safer by:

  • wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes with heel support
  • removing unnecessary rugs and using nonslip mats where necessary
  • reducing or removing clutter, especially on floors
  • installing handles and rails to help yourself stand up, especially in the shower, bath, or toilet

Does insurance cover the Lifeline medical alert system?

Certain kinds of medical insurance might cover medical alert systems. If it’s medically necessary for you to use a medical alert system, a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C) might cover the cost, depending on the plan. You’ll have to talk directly with your insurance to find out whether they will cover a medical alert system.

Does Lifeline have a free trial period?

No, but Lifeline does allow you to return your device within 30 days.

How can a medical alert system help keep my loved one safe?

A medical alert system can help your loved one get help when they’re unable to reach a phone. Because they can click the button quickly, they can immediately be put in touch with a trained respondent.

In emergencies, it’s essential that your loved one gets help quickly: In cases like falls, heart attacks, or strokes, prompt medical help can improve their outcome and recovery.

Medical alert systems can help people live independently for longer without compromising their health or safety. Lifeline Systems, formerly known as Philips Lifeline, provides a range of medical alert packages for older adults. Overall, their prices are competitive and their reputation is positive.