Important Things You Should Know About Medical Alert Systems

Important things you should know about medical alert systems

In their absence, most caregivers struggle with the issue of “how to keep seniors safe?” Dealing with the constant anxiety of a possible medical emergency can be debilitating for both the caregiver and the senior. One effective solution to this problem is a medical alert system — a form of alarm that is designed to warn a professional monitoring center during a medical emergency and help the senior get prompt medical attention.

Many might wonder “why get a medical alert system instead of just dialing 911?” A lot of seniors live independently. In case, they injure themselves or pass out, they won’t be in a position to reach the phone. With a medical alert system, all the senior has to do is push the button of the accessory they are wearing. Plus, most medical alert systems are now equipped with “fall detection technology.” As the name suggests, this feature immediately detects if a senior has fallen and could be of great help if they happen to be unconscious.

Medical alert system vs personal alert system
Both medical and personal alert systems help seniors with emergencies; however, their approach is a bit different. A personal alert system will notify the base station representative who will then get in touch with the seniors’ kin or neighbors who can respond to an emergency call. If no one responds, then the base station will contact 911. A personal alert system is a one-time investment and doesn’t involve a contract or monthly fees.

How do medical alert systems work?
It’s simple, once the system sends an alert, a professional monitoring center will be informed, and the communication will be handled by a trained personnel who has the client’s medical history with them. They’ll also be responsible for calling first responders such as the local police or medical emergency services and family members/caregivers.

While medical alert systems do come with monthly fees, they can be a better option considering that the trained personnel have the client’s history with them. Moreover, their dispatch process for emergency services is faster as they don’t primarily rely on contacting the family members or neighbors first.

How to choose the right medical system?
While shopping for medical alert systems, there are some considerations that one needs to make. The medical alert system should ideally have features such as:

  • Wide coverage
  • Fall detection
  • Location detection
  • Backup and battery system

Likewise, a senior should have the option to choose between a home-based or mobile-based system. The latter would be perfect for seniors who lead a more active lifestyle and like to be independent.

5 popular medical alert systems

  • Medical Guardian – This provider offers multiple medical alert systems with useful features such as broad coverage, one-touch alert signal, clear 2-way communication, fall detection, and battery backup.
  • Medical Alert – Offering comprehensive medical alert systems, this provider has furnished their products with features such as waterproof safe buttons, multi-language support, zero activation and installation fees, and a 30-day risk-free trial.
  • Mobile Help – Apart from essential features such as GPS tracking and fall detection, Mobile Help medical alert systems are provided with a 30-day money-back guarantee and $200 Visa gift card for referrals.
  • LifeStation – This provider offers a host of features including fall detection, waterproof buttons, free activation, free shipping, and 24/ monitoring.
  • LifeFone – LifeFone provides affordable plans and also comes with dedicated caregiver plans. They also offer 30-day money-back guarantee and members can cancel the plans anytime they want.

You can check out these popular comparison blogs to pick the right medical alert system – Medical Guardian Vs. Mobile Help and Medical Alert Vs. Philips Lifeline.

Are medical alert systems covered by insurance?
Undoubtedly, having a medical alert system can be incredibly helpful, especially for seniors living alone with serious health problems, however, it can be expensive too. The one-time activation/installation and base equipment cost is still bearable. But there are monthly fees to be taken care of, which can range from $20 to $50.

It’s natural for most shoppers to wonder if medical alert systems are covered by medical insurance. Seniors might be able to find some relief via Medicare. While Original Medicare (Part A + Part B) doesn’t cover its costs, seniors can avail coverage via Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C). This type of insurance will include several forms of medical expenses that are excluded from the Original Medicare. At the same time, it is imperative to remember that Medicare coverage for medical alert system will vary across states. So seniors or caregivers should have a word with their insurer to know the best way to secure coverage for their medical alert system.

The following Medicaid programs might also cover the medical alert system costs.

  • Home and community-based services (HCBS)
  • Money Follows the Person (MFP)
  • Medicaid state plan personal care attendant programs
  • Consumer-directed services

Are medical alert systems tax deductible?
This is another common query most people have about medical alert systems. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) guidelines are quite straightforward. One can claim deductions on hearing aids, ambulance services, blood sugar testing supplies, dentures, eyeglasses, and even acupuncture and smoking cessation programs. Though medical alert systems are not explicitly mentioned as tax-deductible under the IRS guidelines, one can claim a deduction on them.

The IRS clearly mentions, “medical expenses amounts paid to a plan that keeps medical information in a computer data bank and retrieves and furnishes the information upon request to an attending physician.” In fact, this is what the monitoring unit of a medical alert system does. They have a medical history of their client, which is immediately provided to the dispatched emergency services.

Claiming deductions for medical alert system
The IRS has specific requests that must be met to claim deduction on the expenses of medical alert systems, such as monthly fees or installation charges. Let’s take a look at them.

  • The total amount of the qualifying costs must be above 10% of the adjusted gross income (AGI)
  • Instead of using standard deduction, applicants must itemize their deductions (using Schedule A)
  • The taxes should be filed using Form 1040
  • Applicants can only claim amounts paid for medical alert systems for the current tax year

To know more about the deductions regarding a medical alert system, one should seek expert advice to understand whether it’s worth itemizing the eligible medical expenses and if it’ll actually reduce the amount of tax you’ll owe the IRS.

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