Ask An Expert: Mark Berman
As the Chief Editor for Medical Alert Comparison, it’s Mark’s job to educate seniors and their loved ones about healthy living options as they age. If you have a question you’d like Mark to answer, send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My brother and I have been trying to convince our Dad that he needs a medical alert device. He lives alone now and we worry about him. He’s really stubborn and nothing we do or say seems to be able to get through to him. What should we do?
–Lauren, Houston, TX
Great question, Lauren! This is a tough one. Growing older can often challenge the boundaries of a person’s dignity, and that’s usually where stubbornness comes into play. This is a very tricky road to navigate, as you don’t want to make your Dad feel like you’re taking his independence away. The most successful way to approach this is through an emotional appeal. Tell your Dad how much he means to you and how worried you are about it. Tell him that you know he’s independent and doesn’t need the system, but that it will provide you with peace of mind if he complies.
Or, you can do what one of our employees did with her own mother: she purchased the system, put it in a box, wrapped it up like a gift and had her youngest son give it to his Grandmother. When he handed the box over he said, “Please take this, Grandma. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” And it worked! Grandkids can sometimes deliver a message more clearly than their parents.
Does insurance cover medical alert devices? –-John, Hackensack, NJ
This is a very commonly asked question. Unfortunately, most insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid do not cover the costs of medical alert devices. Some insurance companies, however, may provide you with some sort of stipend towards that expense.
Read our article on Medicare and Medical Alert Systems Here
If you have long-term care insurance in place, there is a good chance that you may qualify for reimbursement through your policy. Check with your insurance provider on this.
I am not very computer savvy and feel very overwhelmed by all of my options for medical alert devices. What are the most important things to consider when purchasing a medical alert system? –Sheryl, Canton, Ohio
I understand how you feel, Sheryl. With so many options to choose from it’s hard to figure out the best way to compare and contrast. First, I want to touch on price. The cost of monthly service seems to be the #1 concern for most of our customers and I’ll tell you what I tell them: the cheapest option isn’t always the best option. Cheap options might be so low because they’re not providing you with top-notch service and that’s something you don’t want to skimp on in a life or death situation.
That said, here is my list of the most important elements to look for when choosing a medical alert company:
- Monitoring Services: Does the company own/operate their own monitoring services or do they outsource that to a third party? This is important because you want to know that you can trust the service that you’re receiving upon purchase. Also important: make sure the monitoring center is UL-certified.
- No Hidden Fees: Will they charge you for equipment? Are there set up fees? Cancellation fees? Make sure to do your homework about any additional fees before signing on the dotted line.
- Long-term Contracts: Similar to how cell phone companies make you commit to a minimum of two years of service, some medical alarm companies make you agree to a particular term of service. Without knowing whether or not you’ll actually need their services for a set period of time, we highly recommend not buying into this
- Refund Policy: Obviously when you purchase a new product you never want to assume you’re going to have to return it, but in the instance that you are dissatisfied with your service, it’s important to know what the policy is. Will they refund you if you paid for months in advance? Will they charge you an extra fee for sending equipment back? And how much will they charge you if you fail to send the equipment back? These are all important pieces of information to know prior to purchase.