As with most medical alert companies, Medical Care Alert offers three packages. However, the packages differ from most, albeit only just. The base package features an in-home landline system, which is standard. The midrange package features a Home & Yard system, which is also a landline system, but comes with a two-way pendant. The premium package is a mobile device, which is also typical. Rather than include the cellular in-home device in the midrange package, a cellular adapter is an add-on to the base or midrange package.
For our review, we ordered the in-home system with the cellular adapter and the fall-detection pendant. And, surprisingly, we received the MyTrex MXD3G device, which doesn't appear on the company's website. Nonetheless, the MyTrex MXD3G is better than using a cellular adapter.
Cost Comparison: C
Medical Care Alert’s pricing is no better or worse than most services we reviewed, which is why it received a C grade in our cost comparison. At the time of our review, the base package was $29.95 per month – slightly better than the $30.17 per month average. If you don't have a landline, you add the cellular option at $5 per month, which brings the cost to about $35 per month – $1 cheaper than average for a cellular in-home system. The Home & Yard (the midrange package) was $34.95 per month, the same as the in-home cellular device. And the premium mobile system is $49.95 per month – nearly $7 more than the average premium mobile package.
One downside to Medical Care Alert is the lack of a month-to-month option. Despite advertising the aforementioned prices, those prices are based on a quarterly plan. You can also make semi-annual and annual payments, but these save you only about $1.80 per month, which isn't great. You do get a pro-rated refund if you cancel early, but we prefer companies provide the flexibility of a month-to-month option.
The Results of Our Hands-On Testing
Medical Care Alert sent us the MyTrex MXD3G in-home cellular system, which is not found anywhere on the website. We assumed, since the cellular system is an add-on to the home package, that we'd get a cellular adapter to the company's standard landline system. The MyTrex is preferable to a cellular adapter, as it has a simple setup that doesn't require additional outlets or cables, and the speakerphone quality is usually very high.
Five other services in our review also use the MyTrex unit, and those devices earned A- grades for speakerphone quality. However, the speakerphone on this particular MyTrex device received just a B-, as it was considerably more distorted, even at lower volumes. We're not sure why the quality of the speaker didn't match other MyTrex units, though we suspect it may have been older and more used. (Medical alert companies reuse these devices once a customer cancels a subscription and returns the device. So it's possible to receive a device that's been used for years, which means it has some wear and tear.)
Although the wireless pendant didn't have any issues in the 1,200-square-foot apartment that we tested at, the range was disappointing. After stepping into the hallways with the pendant, it reached an average of only 70 feet. For comparison, the longest average range in our tests was 149 feet (Philips Lifeline), and the average was 89 feet.
Another disappointment was the fall-detection pendant, which didn't work. This wasn't a Medical Care Alert issue, though, as four other services used the same pendant, and none of them worked.
The slow call response time was the biggest disappointment – 98.81 seconds on average. For comparison, the fastest average call response time in our review as 20.67 seconds (GreatCall) and the overall average was 69.58 seconds. When seconds matter, this is certainly an issue worth considering.
The monitoring center's call quality was one of the positive notes of this service, receiving a B+ in our evaluation. In every call, the operator spoke clearly and calmly, which is one of the most important aspects of the call. The communication was always clear. They even made it a point to ask us to identify ourselves rather than assuming we were the name on the account. The only reason the operators didn't earn a higher grade was from a few calls where operators sounded as though they were reading from script.
Medical Care Alert is a mostly middle-grade service – mostly average prices and mostly average technology. However, with a slow call response time and a fall-detection pendant that didn't work, it's certainly not an option we can recommend in comparison with the best.