Medical Alert offers an in-home landline system, an in-home cellular system and a mobile device — just like most medical alert companies. For our review, we tested the Medical Alert in-home cellular package, which features the Mytrex MXD3G system — a device also used by five other services we reviewed. We also ordered the fall-detection pendant. As a system, the MXD3G has a good speakerphone, but subpar range.
Cost Comparison: C
In our comparison, Medical Alert received a C grade for package costs. At $32.99 per month, the base package was a few dollars more than the average landline in-home system. The midrange package (in-home cellular device) had the same problem — $2 more than the month-to-month market average. However, the mobile package was priced right at the $43-per-month market average.
You can lower the monthly cost by making bigger up-front payments (annual and quarterly options), and this lowered the monthly cost by an average of $5.62 per month, bringing the monthly cost below the market averages. However, most companies do the same thing, though the savings were about $3.90 per month. As such, if a company has a package that starts at a lower month-to-month price and provides $3.90-per-month savings for bulk payments, it will either be cheaper or close to the same cost as Medical Alert's similar package.
We recognize that prices routinely fluctuate, so it’s recommended that you compare prices before purchasing a package.
Medical Alert uses the Mytrex MXD3G in-home medical alert device, which is one of the most widely used devices on the market. The device's best feature is its speakerphone, which received an A- grade in our tests. It’s very loud, which is necessary for an in-home system, and the audio is usually very clear (except at full volume). However, the monitoring center’s operator seemed to control the volume, because it wasn’t consistent from one call to another.
The downside to the Mytrex MXD3G is the short pendant range. While we didn’t have any signal problems in the apartment where we tested, once we ventured into the hallways, the range fell short of most pendants we tested — an average of just 70 feet. In fact, the range was 72 feet down the right-hand hall and 67 feet down the left hall. While this seems terribly short of the 600-foot specified range, it's still plenty of space to blanket most homes and apartments. You just won't be able to roam in the yard or street.
The fall-detection pendant was the best feature of Medical Alert’s package, receiving an A grade in our tests. Not all Mytrex MXD3G units that we reviewed came with the same fall-detection pendant, but Medical Alert’s teardrop-shaped pendant proved to be our favorite at recognizing falls without causing too many false alerts. Not only did it recognize 100 percent of the falls we simulated, it also didn’t activate on any falls from 6 inches, which means it won’t call for help after swinging around your neck while you walked around (which happened with other pendants). We also liked that it recognized falls right away, rather than 25 to 30 seconds later, like most fall-detection pendants.
The call-response time averaged 77.78 seconds per call, which was 8 seconds below average and only the 13th-fastest response time in our review. Every second counts in an emergency, so this is a concern worth considering. For comparison, the fastest average response time was 20.67 seconds (GreatCall).
We gave the quality of the call center a B grade in our evaluation. The call quality was mostly very good. However, we did have a few inconsistent calls, where the operator seemed eager to end the call and spoke a little too quickly, which lowered the grade. Sometimes the operators assumed we were the person named on the account, and sometimes they asked us to identify ourselves. We preferred the latter, because assuming we are the person named on the account can be a potential security risk.
Medical Alert simply doesn’t do enough to stand out from other medical alert services. The Mytrex MXD3G is a good in-home cellular system, but it’s used by a lot of medical alert companies, which typically offer it at a better price. The fall-detection pendant is excellent, but it's not enough to justify the slow call response time and average costs. As a safety net for seniors, Medical Alert is certainly effective, but there are better, more affordable options.