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Does The VA Pay For Medical Alert Systems?

Key Takeaways:

  • Medical alert systems can save your life in an emergency.
  • The VA pays for two basic medical alert systems for veterans.
  • MedEquipAlert provides 24/7 access to a call monitoring center.
  • Latitude Mobile Alert (formerly known as Live Life Mobile Medical Alert) does not use a call center but can be programmed to reach 911.
  • Latitude Mobile Alert has automatic fall detection.
  • MedEquipAlert does not have automatic fall detection.
  • If you’re eligible for Medicare, Tricare for Life and Medicare Part C may cover other medical alert systems.

Medical alert systems are devices that provide fast access to emergency care. US veterans can obtain certain brands of free medical alert systems for at-home and on-the-go use through the Department of Veterans Affairs. National Guard members and reservists eligible for VA benefits can also get these devices for free.

Two generations of US Military veterans

Medical alert systems put you in touch with a call center, 911, or a personal contact within seconds. This type of connection can be essential for aging veterans and those with illnesses or disabilities, including those that are service-related.

No matter when you served, you can use a medical alert system if you’re experiencing any type of emergency, such as:

  • Falls
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Confusion
  • Severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis
  • Accidents, including car accidents
  • Fires
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts

Currently, the VA partners with two private-sector medical alert system companies to provide free systems to veterans: MedEquip Alert and Latitude USA (formerly known as LiveLife Personal Mobile Alarms). If neither system works for you, you also have the option of getting a discounted system through Tricare for Life and Medicare Part C.

This article will provide detailed information about medical alert systems the VA pays for. We’ll also clue you in on how to get a medical alert system at a discount if the VA doesn’t cover it.

What Programs Have VA-Funded Medical Alert Systems?

There are two VA-approved medical alert systems you may wish to consider. Both systems are technologically basic but differ in key features.

MedEquip Alert Personal Emergency & Medical Alert Device

The MedEquip Alert device is a soft, ergonomically shaped SOS button that contains a two-way audio speaker. The button can be clipped onto clothing or worn around the neck. It’s enhanced with GPS technology, so monitoring center personnel can immediately determine your location.

In an emergency, press the SOS button and hold it down for two seconds. This connects you to an operator at a monitoring center that operates 24/7, 365 days a year. This device doesn’t have automatic fall detection and must be activated manually by pressing the emergency button.

Monitoring center personnel have your information on file and can access it immediately in real-time. They’re trained to assess the situation at hand and will quickly determine and obtain the type of help you need. This can save precious seconds in a medical emergency or mental health crisis.

The MedEquip Alert SOS button is rechargeable. The button prompts you to charge it when it’s down to 20 percent power.

You can use your button at home and on the go. It’s waterproof, so you can wear it during activities like fishing or while showering. You don’t need to connect your button to a landline or Wi-Fi provider. AT&T provides wireless and cellular connections. Your button will have power anywhere in the United States where AT&T connectivity is available.

MedEquip Alert can provide you with an optional lockbox to attach to your front door. This enables emergency personnel to quickly access your home without damaging a door or window.

According to the company, MedEquip Alert is the only medical alert system approved by the US General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA is an independent agency of the US government.

Latitude Mobile Alert (Formerly LiveLife Personal Mobile Alarms)

Latitude Mobile Alert is a wearable, 4G LTE-powered device that provides automatic fall detection at home and on the go. It comes with a charging base station for at-home use. At home, the mobile alarm uses Bluetooth to find its location through the charging base station.

The Latitude Mobile Alert does not connect to a 24/7 monitoring center. In an emergency, the device sends text messages and calls to six contacts of your choice in your chosen order. The first person who answers the call will be connected to you to speak to each other. One contact on your device can be 911 if you choose. Every contact on your list will be texted and then called. Each contact will be given your location via text. If automatic fall detection triggers the SOS, your contacts will be informed of a fall.

The SOS button comes equipped with a mobile telephone number. People who have this number can also call you to speak. The button has a side talk button and microphone.

The Latitude Mobile Alert is an updated version of the old Live Life Mobile Medical Alert. It is currently in production and can be ordered through the VA now.

Getting VA-Funded Medical Alert Systems

To get a VA-funded medical alert system, you’ll have to work with a VA-approved physician, social worker, or occupational therapist who will certify your need for a system. At your next appointment, let your provider know you have concerns about falls or medical emergencies and your ability to access care quickly.

If you have a condition that causes falls, the Latitude may be your best choice since it has automatic fall detection. This makes it beneficial for veterans with health conditions that cause falls or loss of consciousness.

A wide range of conditions and situations can cause falls, including:
  • Icy streets
  • Slippery shower floors
  • Arthritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Impaired vision
  • Muscle weakness in the legs
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nighttime incontinence

To get the Latitude Mobile Alert, you’ll need to visit your VA medical provider and let them know you need a device with fall detection to aid in your care or quality of life. Your medical provider or social worker will need to approve your request and write a consult for it. If your local VA provider has gone through the vendor process with Latitude USA to receive purchase orders, your device will be fully paid for by the VA. There are no additional monthly or annual fees. The Senior Veterans Service Alliance has a map you can use to see if Latitude USA services your state.

If talking to an emergency operator is important to you, MedEquipAlert may be a better choice. To get MedEquipAlert, have your local VA hospital, doctor, or occupational therapist order MedEquipAlert with monitoring by calling 844-435-7808 and using this code: GSA# GS-35F-202GA. They’ll have to get VA approval first after your request has been made.

Other Ways to Get Funded Medical Alert Systems or Discounts

Some of the medical alert systems available are offered by many US-based companies. Some of these systems have premium features that aren’t included in the free systems covered by the VA. Special features can include:

  • Help wall buttons
  • Apps that connect you and your caregivers
  • Medical alert smartwatches or pendants
  • Geofencing
  • Step trackers
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Medication reminders

If you would benefit from using a more sophisticated alert system, there are several ways to get one, including Tricare for Life, Medicare Part C, and other discounts for Veterans.

Tricare For Life & Medicare Part C

If you’re eligible for Medicare and want a system with lots of special features, you may be able to get full or partial financing through Tricare for Life and Medicare Part C.

Tricare for Life is a form of Medicare wraparound coverage. This simply means that Medicare and Tricare work in unison to coordinate healthcare benefits and reduce costs for eligible veterans. Tricare pays after Medicare for all healthcare claims made in the United States and US territories. Tricare will be the primary payer for healthcare claims filed overseas, and users are responsible for paying Tricare’s cost shares and yearly deductible.

As a veteran, your Tricare for Life coverage begins the day Medicare Part A and Part B coverage starts, not Part C. However, you won’t be able to use your coverage to purchase or rent a medical alert system unless you have Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C). Medicare Advantage plans provide all the coverage Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does, as well as certain extras, which vary by plan.

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t cover the cost of medical alert systems for beneficiaries. However, many Part C plans provide this coverage. If your Part C plan covers the full or partial cost of a medical alert system, you should be able to get one for free or at an affordable price through your insurance.

Discounts For Veterans

Many medical alert companies offer special discounted rates to veterans. You may not see these offers on their websites, but you will be quoted discounted rates when you call and identify yourself as a veteran. Make sure you call. Some companies that provide veterans discounts on other sites no longer offer this service.

Companies that currently offer discounts include:

  • MobileHelp – MobileHelp offers a monthly savings program of $1 per month on medical alert systems, as well as access to free added features for veterans. They also give veterans a $200 Visa gift card for colleague referrals.
  • LifeStation – LifeStation provides discounts for veterans on their at-home and mobile medical alert systems. Monthly savings range from $4-$14, based on the package you choose.

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