What are medical alert systems? How do they work? Who needs them? Who sells them? How much do they cost? And, perhaps most importantly, does health insurance cover them?
“Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”
Most Americans who watch TV have heard that iconic line at least once in the last 30 or so years.
Although LifeCall, the company behind the catchphrase, first aired it in a 1989 commercial, it has regularly used it in the decades since.
Fortunately, it introduced millions to the technology known as medical alert systems.
Unfortunately, it didn’t do much more than that. They showed that devices exist to help people during an emergency, but that’s about it. They didn’t explain that many kinds of medical alert systems are available. They didn’t touch on how much they cost. They didn’t talk about how these systems aren’t just for seniors. And they didn’t say whether health insurance helps people pay for them.
What are Medical Alert Systems?
Medical alert systems are devices that people can use in various emergencies to call for help.
Maybe they’ve fallen. Or maybe they think they’re having a heart attack or stroke. They may be dealing with some other health issue, too.
Which isn’t to suggest these systems only help people with medical problems. They also help people caught in fires and similar disasters.
Basically, if you ever find yourself in a situation that requires assistance from someone, a medical alert system can contact them for you.
How do they do this? In most cases, they provide customers with devices that can be worn around the neck or wrist. These gadgets come with a help or call button. When pressed it alerts or puts them in touch with emergency services, family, or friends.
That’s not all they do, though. Some of these systems do a lot more than just call for help in an emergency.
Before we get to that, here are a few other names you might encounter while shopping for medical alert systems:
* Emergency response systems
* Fall-detection systems
* Personal emergency response services
* Personal safety monitors
How Do Medical Alert Systems Work?
Here’s how things work if you buy the basic setup:
As explained earlier, the base unit connects to your landline. The top side of the machine should feature two buttons – one labeled “help” or “emergency,” and one labeled “reset.” The machine also should include a speaker and an embedded microphone.
When you press the “help” or “emergency” button, the system calls a dispatch center or a loved one. Which one depends on if you have a monitored or unmonitored system. If you’re able to do so, you’ll use the included speaker and microphone to talk with the person who answers.
Usually, pressing the machine’s “reset” button cancels a call. That’s not always the case, though. With some systems, pressing the “reset” button silences its alarm but doesn’t cancel the current call.
The wearable device that comes with most medical alert systems communicates with the base unit when you press its call button. But, they rarely have microphones or speakers in them. If you aren’t close to the base unit you won’t be able to talk with the person it contacts.
If you buy a more mobile system that includes cellular and GPS technology, it’ll work a little differently. Wearable call buttons with GPS can send your exact location to emergency personnel.
Also, wearables that can detect falls do so using built-in sensors. They contact a dispatcher, friend, or family member as soon as they notice a fall.
This article continues on the Quote Wizard website providing much more information on medical alert systems. It covers health insurance details, the best medical alert systems on the market including costs and more.