Life Alert is easily the most widely known medical alert system, but it’s also often the most expensive. Starting at $49.95 per month, plus activation fees, Life Alert’s systems come at a hefty premium. And unlike other medical alert companies, Life Alert requires you to lock into a three-year service agreement.
To put it in perspective, my Life Alert system cost $89.95 per month, plus a one-time $198 activation fee. I’ll be required to pay these monthly costs for the next year, bringing my total first-year costs to $1,277.40.
Did You Know: To find more affordable medical alert systems without long-term contracts, check out our rundown of this year’s best medical alert systems.
Life Alert Costs Breakdown
$49.95 to $89.95 per month
$95 to $198
How Much Does Life Alert Cost?
Life Alert Purchasing Process
You’ll have to order your Life Alert system over the phone, since the company doesn’t currently sell its products over the internet. During your phone call, you’ll be connected with a sales agent who will ask a series of questions to determine which type of system you need.
Life Alert offers three medical alert systems: Life Alert Help PERS LTE, Life Alert Help Button LTE, and Life Alert Help Pendant LTE. The latter two systems, however, cannot be purchased as stand-alone devices. Instead, you’ll have to purchase the Help PERS LTE in addition to either or both of these systems.
Life Alert Help PERS LTE
The most basic Life Alert device, the Help PERS LTE, costs $49.95 per month, with a one-time $95 activation fee. The system includes:
1 base unit (pictured above)
1 help button (pictured below)
The base unit serves as the center of your system. By pressing the help button, you will trigger a call to Life Alert’s dispatch center. The base unit also has a built-in microphone and speaker, which allows you to communicate with the dispatch agent, who will ask you about your emergency and send the appropriate help, whether it’s a nearby loved one or first responders.
The base unit operates on a cellular connection, so you won’t need a landline to connect to the Life Alert dispatch center. The device also has a built-in, rechargeable backup battery. In the event of a power outage, the battery will keep your system powered for up to 72 hours.
The help button, worn either as a pendant or bracelet (with the included wristband attachment), can also trigger a call to the Life Alert dispatch center. The device, however, doesn’t have a built-in speakerphone, and pressing the help button will instead trigger a call through the base station. Luckily, the speakerphone on the base unit is loud, and I was able to communicate with dispatch agents from multiple rooms away. That said, the help button can connect to the base unit only when it’s within 500 feet.
Life Alert Help Button LTE
The next Life Alert device essentially functions as a wall-mounted help button. With its adhesive backing (or included mounting kit), you can place the button on your nightstand, the wall of your stairwell, or even in your shower. Rated IP67 for water resistance, the button is ideal for bathroom use.
Unlike the wearable help button, the wall-mounted button has a built-in speakerphone and LTE cellular connection, which allows you to place it outside the range of your base unit and handle emergency calls directly from the button. The device also has a battery life of up to 10 years. When its battery is running low, the button will announce, “The battery is low.” When that happens, you can contact Life Alert’s service department to arrange for a replacement.
The wall-mounted help button technically costs an additional $20 per month, but it cannot be purchased as a stand-alone device. You must add it to your Help PERS LTE system, which would bring your monthly charge to $69.95.
Life Alert Help Pendant LTE
Despite the confusing name, the Life Alert Help Pendant LTE essentially functions like a mobile medical alert with GPS. Much like the wall-mounted help button, it has a built-in speakerphone and cellular connection, which allows emergency calls to be handled directly from the device.
What differentiates the Help Pendant, however, is its built-in GPS. When I placed test calls with the mobile help button, dispatch agents were able to accurately determine my location within several yards, making this device ideal for users who live active lifestyles.
Similar to the wall-mounted button, the Help Pendant costs only $20 per month — but it cannot be purchased alone. Instead, you’ll need to bundle it with the Help PERS LTE system, bringing your cost to $69.95 at a minimum.
Life Alert Help Button LTE (wall-mounted help button)
Life Alert Help Pendant LTE (mobile help button)
In-home and away
1 base unit
1 help button
1 necklace attachment
1 bracelet attachment
1 wall-mounted help button
1 adhesive strip
1 hard mounting kit
1 mobile pendant
1 necklace attachment
1 belt clip attachment
Cellular and GPS
72-hour backup battery on the base unit
500-foot help button connectivity range
IP67 water-resistant help button
Up to 10 years of battery life
IP67 water resistant
Up to 10 years of battery life
IP67 water resistant
*System must be bundled with the Help PERS LTE **Activation fee reflects the price for a bundled system
Life Alert Contracts
No matter which system you purchase, Life Alert requires you to lock into a binding three-year contract. For the medical alert industry, this is unprecedented. Several companies offer discounts if you pay on an annual basis, but most allow you to pay monthly. At any time, you can cancel your service, send back your equipment, and stop making payments. Life Alert, however, keeps you on the hook with two notable exceptions.
Termination of Contract
Section three of my Life Alert service agreement notes:
Upon death of the Subscriber(s), this thirty-six month agreement is automatically terminated. This agreement can also be terminated if Subscriber enters a skilled nursing facility or has 24-hour in-home professional care with documentation from an accredited health or social service organization.
Essentially, you may exit your Life Alert contract, ceasing monthly payments, if you either pass away or transition to around-the-clock care. I must note, however, that a skilled nursing facility would not necessarily include assisted living. Legally speaking, that leaves a bit of ambiguity as to whether a person moving to assisted living would be able to terminate their contract.
Monitoring Fee Refund
Section four of my Life Alert service agreement states:
Without waiver of any of the Limitations and Liability set forth herein, in the event that the Subscriber dies, for any reason, while at home alone during the initial three-year term of this Agreement, Company shall refund the monitoring fees and Initial fee paid by the subscriber to an authorized representative upon the submission of a written proof that the Subscriber died home alone and provides a death certificate.
As noted in section three of my contract, death alone is not enough to warrant a total refund of your monitoring fees. However, if a person dies alone in their home during the first three years of using Life Alert, then an authorized representative can potentially receive a refund of all monitoring fees. Again there is a bit of legal ambiguity here. While a person can potentially die at home, they often are not pronounced dead until brought to a hospital or other care facility, and it’s unclear if this situation would qualify for a Life Alert refund.
Regardless, death in the home alone will not warrant a refund of your Life Alert activation fees to an authorized representative.
FYI: Not sure which medical alert system has the best features? For a comprehensive system comparison, read our helpful guide on Life Alert vs. Philips Lifeline.
Is Life Alert Worth the Price?
“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” is a phrase familiar to many of us. If you or a loved one ever falls in your home, then Life Alert can certainly provide an essential lifeline to help. Its equipment is both reliable and durable, and its dispatch agents are highly trained.
In my experience testing medical alert devices, however, there are several other companies that provide medical alerts of an equal caliber for less than half the price. To my knowledge, Life Alert is the only medical alert provider that locks users into three-year contracts.
Flexible contracts. By requiring three-year contracts that can be exited only through death or transition to a care facility, Life Alert has one of the most stringent contracts of any medical alert provider. For providers who allow month-to-month contracts, check out my rundown of this year’s best medical alert systems.
Lacks automatic fall detection: Unfortunately, Life Alert is one of the few medical alert companies that doesn’t provide automatic fall detection, despite its expensive plans. If you’re looking for an alternative to Life Alert, then you may want to check out my guide to Life Alert alternatives.
To learn more about medical alert systems, check out our helpful guides.
Your local Area Agency on Aging likely has some sort of program to provide discounted or free medical alert systems, but, in most cases, they’ll offer these deals on more affordable systems than Life Alert.
Life Alert and other medical alert systems are not covered by Medicare, since they’re not considered durable medical equipment. Your insurance provider or local Area Agency on Aging will likely offer some sort of discount on a different brand of medical alert system.
MobileHelp, Medical Guardian, and Bay Alarm Medical offer in-home medical alert systems that start at under $30 per month, far less than the $49.95 required for Life Alert.
Ryan has years of experience researching and testing products that help people successfully age in place. After years of working for various publications such as Boston Magazine and The Believer, he has found his home at The Senior List, writing about all things related to caregiving and senior healthcare.