How to pay for assisted living is always a primary concern. Many people plan for their retirement based on the assumption they will continue to live in their own home; they fail to plan for the cost of alternate living arrangements that may become necessary as they age. In general the cost of assisted living depends on the type of living arrangement (apartments with one or more than one bedroom, condominiums, etc.) and the level of services provided. Basic rates may include all services or they may cover only room and board and charge extra for additional services such as housekeeping and laundry.
In general, residents and their families pay for the cost of senior living from their own private resources. Neither Medicare A (hospital insurance) nor Medicare B (which pays for doctor services) covers the cost of ongoing long-term senior living arrangements. Some costs for stays in a skilled nursing facility following hospitalization for acute illness or injury may be covered, but only up to 100 days. Conditions apply, and a patient copayment is required after the first 20 days. Medicare never pays for the cost of a private room or for any services in an assisted living facility.
Options for governmental assistance (whether federal, state, or local) are limited and are likely to become even more restricted in periods of economic downturn. Medicaid may assist those who meet low-income requirements with the costs of a nursing home, but coverage of assisted living services is limited and varies widely from state to state. Veterans’ programs may pay for some costs of care in veterans’ facilities only. Low-income seniors may be eligible for some rental assistance in nursing or assisted living facilities. Some facilities have staff available to help families explore resources for financial assistance and put together a payment plan.
By far the best option for paying for the costs of senior living, whatever the type of facility, is long-term care insurance. It can take some time to find the best insurance plan for your needs, so it’s best to start looking when you’re in your 40s. If you wait until you actually need to be in a facility, it’s too late to buy long-term care insurance. The cost of policies increases with age, so many experts recommend you own such insurance by age 50.
Our directory of Assisted Living Facilities can estimate your costs based on the level of assistance needed. We also list the payment options accepted by each facilities. Find Assisted Living Facilities here.