2-Minute Money Manager: What’s the Best Medical Alert Plan?

2-Minute Money Manager: What’s the Best Medical Alert Plan?
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Welcome to the “2-Minute Money Manager,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers.

Today’s question is about a service made famous by the “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” commercials: Medical Alert plans.

Watch the following video, and you’ll pick up some valuable info. Or, if you prefer, scroll down to read the full transcript and find out what I said.

You also can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

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Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.

Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hello, and welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager.” I’m your host, Stacy Johnson, and this answer is brought to you by MoneyTalksNews.com, serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Today’s question comes to us from Buck:

You may have already reviewed medical alert plans and noted some of the better values, but this topic could be ready for another review. Pricing is constantly changing, and new offers are frequent.

Well, Buck, I’ve actually never reviewed medical alert plans, but now’s as good a time as any to do it.

This topic takes me back. Years ago after my mom died, my dad considered using one of these things. Or, to be more accurate, my sister and I really wanted him to have something so we would know he was OK. As it turned out, we never got one because he ended up going into assisted living.

What is a medical alert plan?

If you’ve seen the old commercials with the woman saying, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up,” you know what a medical alert plan is about. You wear something around your neck. Then, if something happens, you press a button and talk to a dispatcher. They then send whatever assistance you need.

Different plans offer different options. For example, some can know when you’ve fallen without having to push a button or say anything. That way, if you’re unconscious, you can still get help.

Obviously, plans like these can be great comfort when you’re in the position I was, with an elderly parent living alone.

How much do they cost?

To research this story, I went to Consumer Reports for an objective comparison of numerous companies. There, I learned the base price of these plans is about $30 a month, but there are options that can quickly jack up the price.

Examples of options at extra cost include:

  • They can call a friend or relative instead of calling a dispatcher. Maybe you would rather have your next-door neighbor alerted, which conceivably could avoid some hassle.
  • They can have GPS tracking. Basic plans often cover you only at home. But with this option, your alert can follow you and know where you are.

And those are just two examples: Depending on the plan, there are other options and other costs.

Do your own comparison

As I said, Consumer Reports offers a great guide and plan comparison. The downside: Consumer Reports isn’t free. But I may have a workaround for you.

If you’re not a member of Consumer Reports, your library probably is. So, if you haven’t already, join your public library. It’s likely you can get to Consumer Reports that way and not pay anything. Call your library and see.

And if you’re worried about having to drive to the library, don’t. If your library offers the option, you’ll likely be able to access it right from the comfort of your own home.

So my advice to you, Buck, is to go to Consumer Reports, check out the various plans and compare them.

By the way, speaking of comparing plans: The company with the famous “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” commercials is called Life Alert. As is often the case with heavily advertised products, that plan was one of the more expensive.

Buck, I hope that helps answer your question. And I hope all of you will join me right here next time!

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

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