By Mark Berman
A common question that seniors often ask is this: does Medicare pay for a medical alert system? It is a legitimate quandary. After all, Medicare pays medical bills if a senior gets sick or injured and lands in the hospital. Why wouldn’t it pay for something that could help avoid a costly hospital stay at a fraction of the cost? Well, as much sense as that makes, Medicare does not pay for a medical alert system. It will pay for a full-time nurse or for a nursing home, for example, which can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But it will not pay the $25 per month to allow seniors to be independent.
While Medicare will not foot the bill for medical alert systems, it does not mean seniors cannot get help to pay for them. Some state Medicaid programs could pay; it depends on the specific state in which a person lives. And there are many organizations out there which are dedicated to helping low-income and other people with their medical needs. Such programs could pay for medical alert devices.
While many seniors do not know the Medicare rules, scammers certainly do, and they have no problem preying on the elderly and vulnerable. There have been multiple reports coming from all over the country of seniors getting phone calls from companies claiming to provide a free medical alert system that will be paid by Medicare. Do not believe a word of it.
All these people do is take a senior’s Medicare number, which is also their social security number, and then bill Medicare for services that have never been rendered. If by chance they do deliver a medical alert system, it will not be free and Medicare will not pay for it. Seniors could get stuck with a big bill.
Sometimes these people claim to be calling from Medicare itself, offering a free medical alert system. This is another lie. Medicare simply does not call people and offer them things. Seniors should be advised never to give their personal information to anyone that they do not know.
A medical alert system is a good thing — a necessity for seniors who want to maintain their independence and live alone or with a spouse. You cannot put a price on the peace of mind such a device provides. Well, apparently Medicare can put a price on it: zero dollars.
Common sense would tell you that Medicare should pay for it. It is pretty much a preventative measure, just like going to a doctor when you are not sick, just to make sure everything is all right. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with the federal government, common sense does not always prevail.
This should not deter anyone from buying their own medical alert system. Such a device could save your life in the event of a fall or a medical emergency. Just because Medicare has no interest in it does not mean that you should not consider obtaining one with your own money.