Those of you following on Twitter may have seen my tweets the last few days regarding medical ID. And 140 characters is not a lot of space for me to effectively communicate my thoughts on the whole price-gouging thing MedicAlert Canada seems to be doing.
I became a MedicAlert member in August 2011, and have six months left on my prepaid membership. When I signed up, I chose the Advantage membership at $49/year, plus the cost of ID. I have two sportbands and a stainless steel ID, and I love them. I love the security of the MedicAlert service, especially in that I am active, travel, and often, nobody was home if the number on my generic ID was called (more details of why I chose to join MedicAlert are in the above-linked post). A few months ago, MedicAlert Canada announced the increase in their membership fees from $39 for a Standard membership or $49 for an Advantage membership, to a $5/month membership to link all members up with Advantage–a total of $60 a year for the exact same service.
The price gouge was done to upgrade all members to Advantage, but now those who were happy paying for standard are paying $20 more per year. I chose the Advantage membership because of the craziness that is my summer with my emergency contacts being all over the place, but this is just ridiculous.
And further, it comes down to principle:
This is the exact same service that is received in the US for $45/year–including that MedicAlert Canada and MedicAlert US utilize the same medical database. In addition, many of the IDs in the MedicAlert Canada catalogue are the same as those in the MedicAlert US catalogue, but at extremely increased prices.
How is this fair?
Black MedicAlert Dog Tag: $7.45 USD . . . $39.40 CAD
Purple Flower Sportband: $22.95 USD . . . $40.00 CAD [AND with the US service, you receive a free sportband when you purchase one]
These are for the cheaper IDs. As the IDs get more expensive, there are few same-products to compare, but the watches are still $10 more each for the Canadian versions [that I assume are no different].
MedicAlert is a non-profit, charitable organization. I do not have huge knowledge into the World of Non-Profit. I know MedicAlert provides membership assistance [that I likely do not qualify for, nor would I want to simply because I think their costs are ridiculous, I would never want to take that funding away from someone who simply cannot pay for it] and programs to provide the service to kids for free pending their school is a part of the No Child Without program. This is great, especially for kiddos who have autism and cannot communicate their needs effectively, or kids with medical needs like severe food allergies or type one diabetes and are at higher risk for requiring emergency care while away from their parents. Like I said, I am a huge supporter of the service that is provided, and aside from this, my experience has been positive.
But can I justify that simply because I am Canadian, I have to pay more for the service than my southern neighbours? Can I justify that the service that is supposed to save my life has just jumped their costs and potentially made it more difficult for people who need the service to access it without membership assistance? And can I justify this when I know I can get other awesome medical IDs cheaper than MedicAlert’s and link them to a RoadID profile for $10 per year, thus receiving essentially the same service without the big-name?
I’ll be disappointed to say goodbye to my MedicAlert membership in August and the security it offers. Disappointed to put my small, less-intrusive emblems and cute flower sportband away in a drawer.
Because, simply I cannot justify it.