How To Pay for Assisted Living
The methods that families use to pay for assisted living depend on personal situation and eligibility, but options can include Social Security benefits, pensions, state financial programs, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, veterans’ assistance or bridge loans. Other people use personal savings or proceeds from selling their home, while others use a mixture of several options. Here are some factors to consider when deciding how to pay for assisted living.
Assisted Living Costs
The cost of assisted living varies from place to place in the United States, with some regions experiencing a higher average cost and some experiencing a lower average cost. Assisted living costs also vary within states, and even within cities. Overall, the community, the location, the amenities, services and your specific care needs will have the greatest influences on the price.
Across the United States, the average cost for assisted living is about $4,100 per month. Costs for assisted living vary widely within Georgia as well, which is why it’s important to list your top communities and research them in greater detail. You want to know what each community offers for the cost and whether that community will meet your needs.
Around Atlanta and Valdosta, assisted living costs average $3,800 per month, while Gainesville sees higher costs of about $4,600 per month. Cities like Rome and Savannah are at about the state average of $3,500. If you’re looking for cities with assisted living costs below the state average, consider Columbus, Macon or Augusta.
Financial Support for Assisted Living
If you’re unable to cover most or all of your assisted living costs with personal savings, you’ll want to know what financial support is available. There are several financial options available in Georgia to both long-time and new residents.
In Georgia, you can apply for Medicaid through Georgia Gateway, administered by the Department of Human Services, Division of Family & Children Services. Medicaid is more commonly known as Aged, Blind and Disabled Medicaid, or ABD Medicaid.
There are a few requirements that you must meet to be eligible for Georgia financial support:
- Have income and resources/assets that don’t exceed the stated limits
- Be a resident of Georgia
- Be age 65 or older
- Be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident
If you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from Social Security, you are automatically eligible for Medicaid in Georgia.
Does Medicaid Pay for Assisted Living?
Medicaid pays for personal care services at an assisted living community, but it doesn’t cover the costs for room and board. However, for people using Medicaid, the state limits what communities can charge for room and board. Your costs for room and board would be no more than the amount you’d receive in federal SSI benefits.
Does Medicare Pay for Assisted Living?
Unfortunately, no. You can’t use Medicare for pay for your room and board or your personal care services at an assisted living community. Medicare, under Part B, pays for medical tests and doctor visits you have while living in assisted living, but it won’t pay for any aspect of the community costs.
Georgia Medicaid Waivers
Georgia offers two Medicaid Waivers that you can use to pay for medical and personal care costs at assisted living communities, as long as you meet the requirements. The Georgia Department of Community Health runs each waiver program.
- Community Care Services Program (CCSP)
- Service Options Using Resources in a Community Environment (SOURCE)
To be eligible for CCSP or SOURCE, you must be a Georgia resident, meet the income and asset limits and also be eligible for nursing home level of care. You should know that these waivers have waitlists, so you wouldn’t be added to the program until an open slot becomes available. As with state Medicaid, the CCSP and SOURCE waivers put a cap on what you’ll pay the assisted living community for room and board.
Other State Assistance
Aside from Medicaid, Georgia offers a state financial option through its Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and a cost-reduction guidance program for those on Medicare. There are a dozen agencies across the state, dividing Georgia into twelve residential areas.
Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)
The HCBS program is run by area agencies through the Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services. You can apply for these services as long as you are 60 years or older, and you won’t need to meet any financial limits. The HCBS program helps to reduce your costs related to personal care, along with other services that help with daily living.
This State Heath Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is not a financial assistance program, but it provides you with counseling services designed to reduce your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare, whether you’re living at an assisted living community or haven’t yet made the transition.
Long-Term Care Insurance
You can also use long-term care insurance to pay for your assisted living costs. This insurance is through a private insurance provider and can help you reduce your costs at assisted living.
Before you purchase this type of insurance, check into what each plan would cover, how long the coverage would last, what your premiums would be and how large of a daily or monthly payout you can receive. Please note that insurance providers are more likely to charge much higher premiums for older adults with chronic health conditions.
Veteran Aid & Attendance
Another option applies if you served as a veteran and are 65 or older, and need assistance with activities of daily living (ADL). The Veteran Aid & Attendance program provides additional benefits on top of a VA pension to cover costs while at assisted living. As of 2019 rates, you can receive up to $1,900 per month (depending on your annual income). This rate includes the VA pension plus Aid & Assistance since you cannot get Aid & Assistance without the VA pension.
Assisted Living Loan
Elderlife Financial offers a short-term Elderlife Bridge Loan that can help you pay for costs while you’re waiting for other benefits or coverage to begin. You can have co-applicants to help with approval, and you can choose from three loan repayment periods: 6, 12 or 18 months.
Welcome Home to The Lodge
Assisted living should work for you, not against you. We offer a fee-for-service assisted living price contract that helps to keep costs affordable and tailored just to your needs.
Picture yourself at home here by taking a virtual tour of our community. If this looks like a community you’d like to join, contact us to learn more. You can contact us online or call us at (706) 329-8367 to learn more. Our team members look forward to telling you more about The Lodge and how you can be part of our family here.