After retirement, millions of seniors plan to remain independent and live on their own for the rest of their lives. But because aging isn’t always a smooth process, it can bring changes like reduced vision and hearing, loss of muscle strength, decreased mobility, and an increased risk of falling for many of the elderly.
You don’t have to give up your dream of living in your own home alone, even if you are experiencing some age-related changes. Today, you can have people come into your home to help you with daily activities, have family members check up on you regularly, and you can get a medical alert system in case you have an emergency.
Medical alert, or personal emergency response systems, send notifications to a response center in emergency situations like a fall, fire, or medical issue. Many units have easy-to-use buttons that automatically dial your help center when pushed. Other types of medical alert systems have GPS systems that can automatically send a warning if the wearer falls. You can even get a system that reminds you to take your prescription meds.
If you are planning to live on your own, or you have an elderly family member who does, having a medical alert system can provide some peace of mind. The question is, do your Medicare benefits help cover the expenses for these helpful systems?
Do Medicare benefits cover medical alert systems?
Even though using a medical alert system might help you live more safely on your own, Original Medicare insurance doesn’t cover it. Medicare doesn’t consider these systems to be medically necessary, and it doesn’t categorize them as durable medical equipment.
However, it’s possible that some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans do include medical alert systems in their benefits. Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies that work with Medicare. Every Part C plan must provide, at minimum, all the benefits that Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) include. Medicare Advantage plan providers can also include optional extra benefits in their Part C plans.
Today, most Medicare Advantage plans bundle the basic Medicare benefits together with prescription drug coverage as well as other benefits that may include dental, hearing, and vision care services, fitness club memberships, telemedicine services, and others. Many of these plans also cover medical alert or personal emergency response systems. Because this coverage varies from plan to plan, you should check to see if the plan includes it before enrolling.
How much do medical alert systems cost without Medicare coverage?
Medical alert systems carry several different costs. Depending on the provider and the system, you may pay an initial amount for the device and a fee for installation. Then you have your monthly payment for operation. Monthly fees typically range between $20.00 and $60.00.
Systems with advanced “smart” features like motion sensors and activity trackers (GPS) cost more than basic home-based systems. You may also opt for additional features like water-resistant devices, automatic fall detection, and 24/7 service capability. All these features can add to your final costs. Make sure you have all the details of what you’re paying for before signing up for a system.