Arizona is a popular retirement spot, in part due to its warm, dry weather and beautiful desert landscapes. The state is home to 7.2 million people, and 18% are aged 65 and older. Social Security income isn’t subject to state income tax, which can help seniors budget, and groceries and medicines are exempt from sales tax. Retirees in Arizona also have access to world-class medical care at facilities such as the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.

The state ranks 42nd overall in the 2022 Senior Living Report, in part due to the relatively low number of health care professionals and opportunities for community involvement. However, it’s among the top 10 states for senior living and housing. Assisted living costs of just $4,000 per month impact this ranking. Arizona also ranks highly in quality of life for seniors who choose to make the state their home.

This guide has details about the cost of assisted living in Arizona and its cities, as well as the prices of other senior living options. You can also find information about resources available to seniors in Arizona and the rules and regulations for assisted living facilities in the state.

The Cost of Assisted Living in Arizona

The 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey shows that assisted living in Arizona costs an average of $4,000 per month. This is $500 less than the national median. Prices are also relatively low when compared to many of Arizona’s neighbors. At $5,250, the average price in California is $1,250 more than in Arizona. Colorado and New Mexico are also more expensive, with prices of $4,750 and $4,498, respectively. Nevada and Utah are both more affordable options, with seniors in Nevada paying $3,750 and costs in Utah averaging $3,500 per month.

$4000

Arizona

$4500

The United States

$5250

California

$3750

Nevada

$3500

Utah

$4750

Colorado

$4498

New Mexico

Costs can differ widely depending on where in Arizona you reside. Flagstaff is the least affordable city, with costs of $5,000 per month. Lake Havasu City and Prescott Valley prices are also significantly higher than the state average at $4,700 and $4,500, respectively. At $4,150, prices in Sierra Vista are slightly higher than Arizona’s average, as are Tucson’s at $4,050. Seniors in the state’s largest city, Phoenix, pay $3,975 per month, while Yuma has the lowest rates at $3,800. 

$5000

Flagstaff

$4700

Lake Havasu City

$4500

Prescott Valley

$3975

Phoenix

$3800

Yuma

$4050

Tucson

$4150

Sierra Vista

Assisted living isn’t the only senior care option available to older adults in Arizona, and another type may be more suitable to your budget and circumstances. Adult day health care is the most affordable choice at $2,102. The average cost of in-home care is higher than the $4,000 rate for assisted living, with seniors paying $5,339 for home care and $5,434 for home health care. In nursing homes, monthly rates average $6,540 for semiprivate rooms and $8,030 for private accommodations.

$5339

Home Care

$5434

Home Health Care

$2102

Adult Day Health Care

$4000

Assisted Living

$6540

Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

$8030

Nursing Home Care (private room)

Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Arizona?

Assisted living care is covered directly by Arizona Medicaid for eligible residents in the state. The Medicaid program, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS, doesn’t include waivers. Instead, all care is offered through a managed care system. As part of the AHCCCS, Arizona Long Term Care Services (ALTCS) covers medical and personal care for eligible residents in their homes and in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Arizona? 

ALTCS provides services to people who need a nursing home level of care. As this is a Medicaid program, there aren’t any waiting lists; everyone who’s eligible can receive benefits. The managed care system also means that seniors work entirely with a single organization, making the logistics of arranging care and benefits easier. 

To qualify for ALTCS support, you must be financially eligible. The financial limits for this program are higher than those for regular Medicaid. You must also be aged 65 or older, or have a recognized disability, and at risk of institutionalization. 

The exact benefits you can receive depend on your needs and where you reside. For example, there are different levels of support provided for people in assisted living facilities as compared to those living in their own home. In addition to the medical care provided by Medicaid, the program offers assistive services. These can include:

  • Care coordination
  • Behavioral health care
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Personal care services
  • Personal emergency response systems
  • Medical transportation

The program doesn’t cover the cost of room and board in assisted living facilities.

When you apply, the department looks at your finances first. If you’re financially eligible for the program, a social worker conducts an in-person assessment to decide if you meet the functional eligibility criteria. The assessment also determines the level of care you require. To apply, you can contact the nearest ALTCS office or call (888) 621-6880.

How To Know If You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Arizona

As the Medicaid program is designed to provide health insurance to low-income residents, finances are the main factor determining eligibility. Applicants must meet both income and asset limits

The income limit for ALTCS coverage is $2,523 per month, or $30,276 per year per person, and the asset limit is $2,000. When both spouses of a married couple are applying, that limit is per person, meaning the couple can have up to $4,000 of assets. 

When only one spouse applies for long-term care assistance, the income limit only applies to the applicant. However, the applicant may transfer a certain amount of their income to the non-applicant according to Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment provisions. The non-applicant spouse may also retain up to $137,400 in assets. 

Arizona doesn’t count all assets when calculating Medicaid eligibility. Personal belongings, an automobile and burial trusts are generally exempt. A primary home is also exempt if the person intends to return to it or their spouse still lives there. 

Income Limits* 

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$30,276

$2,000

Two-Person Household

(Only One Person Applying)

$30,276

$2,000 applicant

$137,400 non-applicant

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$60,552

$4,000

*Per year

In addition to the financial criteria, applicants must:

  • Be an Arizona resident
  • Be a U.S. citizen or qualified immigrant
  • Have a Social Security number
  • Be aged 65 or older, or have a recognized disability
  • Be in need of a nursing home level of care
  • Apply for all cash benefits they may be entitled to
  • Live in an approved living arrangement, such as an assisted living facility

How To Apply for Medicaid in Arizona

To start an application for ALTCS, you may visit your local office or call (888) 621-6880. Alternatively, you can fill in a request for application form and take it to the nearest ALTCS office or return it by mail, fax or email to:

801 East Jefferson Street, MD 3900, Phoenix, Arizona, 85034
Fax (toll-free): 888-507-3313 
Email: altcsregistration@azahcccs.gov 

Information You Will Need 

ALTCS staff members need to see various documents to process applications. You may be asked to provide:

  • Proof of citizenship and identity
  • Immigration documents
  • Social Security number
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of assets
  • Verification of any other medical insurance, such as a Medicare card

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid 

Arizona has resources available to help people who wish to apply for Medicaid. The Health-e-Arizona Plus website answers frequently asked questions about the application process. ALTCS workers are also able to answer questions, and the agency offers a detailed guide for those applying for long-term care.

Resource 

Contact 

Description 

Online

Health-e-Arizona Plus accepts applications for nutrition, cash and medical assistance, including Medicaid. Although long-term care applications aren’t processed through the system, the website has an extensive list of frequently asked questions about eligibility and Medicaid applications. 

(888) 621-6880

In addition to processing applications, staff at ALTCS offices are able to answer questions and help you fill in applications. Assistance is available over the phone, or in person at local office locations. 

Online

The ALTCS office produces a guide for people who are applying for long-term care. The information sheet has easy-to-understand instructions about eligibility requirements, how to apply and how the program works. The guide is available in both English and Spanish.

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Arizona?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Arizona. Assisted living facilities are considered to be a “residential setting” and not a “clinical setting,” (think nursing homes). While Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of care received in an assisted living community, it does still cover things like approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc., just like it would if you lived at home.

For more information about when Medicare can be used to pay for senior living in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in Arizona.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Arizona

Seniors who are not eligible (due to location, financial situation, or other factors) for other types of financial assistance, do still have some options. See the table below for an overview of some of the most common ways to make Assisted Living affordable.

 

How to Apply

How It Works

Aid and Attendance

Learn more and apply online at va.gov.

Veterans who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for Assisted Living.

Reverse Mortgages

Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov

If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for Assisted Living. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.

Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance

Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.

Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for Assisted Living. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of Assisted Living will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Arizona

Seniors in Arizona have access to a variety of resources designed to support their health, independence and well-being. Many services are coordinated through local and state government agencies, and can provide financial assistance, advice and advocacy.

Resource 

Contact 

Service 

Contact local offices

There are eight Area Agencies on Aging in Arizona that provide information to seniors about available programs and community supports. Many also coordinate services and provide programs in their region. The exact services offered depend on what’s needed by the local senior community. 

(800) 432-4040

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, provides free health insurance counseling to Medicare recipients. Trained volunteers can help seniors make smart decisions to optimize access to health care and benefits. 

(602) 255-3373

The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services provides services to residents who've served in the military. The department offers benefits counseling to help veterans and their families process pension and Aid and Attendance applications, appeal VA decisions and file for survivor’s benefits.  

The Department of Economic Security coordinates programs designed to promote the safety and well-being of Arizonans. The programs it offers older adults include legal assistance, protective services and home-delivered meals. It also coordinates the Home and Community Based Services program, which provides a range of services, such as personal care, transportation and housekeeping. 

Contact local offices

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program advocates and protects the rights of people living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult foster care homes. The primary role of the program is to investigate complaints and help resolve concerns for residents. Ombudsmen also work with family and resident councils and educate people about resident rights and issues impacting long-term care facilities. 

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Arizona

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including azdhs.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 4/22/22, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.

Visitation Policies

Rules for Arizona Communities

Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?

Yes

Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?

No

Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?

Yes

Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?

Not Available*

Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

Outings & Social Activities

Rules for Arizona Communities

Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?

No (Conditions Apply)

Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?

No

Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?

Yes

Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?

Yes

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

Rules for Arizona Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes

Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?

Yes

Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes

Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Arizona

Assisted living facilities in Arizona are licensed and regulated by the Bureau of Residential Facilities Licensing. Facilities must comply with the rules and regulations set forth to protect the health, safety and well-being of assisted living residents in the state. 

ARIZONA LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements 

A service plan must be developed with the assistance of the resident, the facility manager and any individual requested by the resident or their representative. It must be completed no later than 14 days from the resident’s date of acceptance.

Service plans should state what services are being provided, medication requirements and any health conditions or functional impairments the resident has. Plans must be reviewed by a nurse or medical practitioner if the resident requires intermittent nursing or medication administration. 

Service plans are reviewed every 3, 6 or 12 months, depending on the type of care being provided. They must also be reviewed within 14 days of any significant change in a resident’s condition.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements 

A facility can only accept a resident if they have the ability to provide the care the individual needs. Facilities can’t accept anyone who requires continuous medical, nursing or behavioral health services. 

Assisted Living Scope of Care 

Assisted living services are defined as supervisory, personal, directed or behavioral care services in a residential setting. Facilities can be licensed to provide different levels of care. 

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy 

Arizona Medicaid pays for the care services provided in licensed and participating assisted living facilities for eligible residents. It doesn’t pay for room and board. You should check acceptable payment options prior to deciding on a facility to ensure that Medicaid is accepted.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements 

All doors in assisted living communities must be wheelchair accessible and facilities must provide accessible outdoor activity space. 

There can be no more than two individuals in a bedroom and all sleeping rooms must have access to natural light. Furniture, including a bed and linen, should be provided unless the resident is bringing their own, and each sleeping area must have sufficient storage space. 

There must be at least one working toilet and shower or bathtub for every eight residents.

Medication Management Regulations 

All medication must be stored securely. Medication can be administered under the direction of a medical practitioner and following a medication order. 

If residents are self-administering medication, assisted living facility staff can take actions to help, including providing reminders and opening containers. 

Staffing Requirements 

Facilities must schedule sufficient trained staff to ensure the needs of the residents can be met. At least one manager or caregiver must be present and awake when a resident is on the premises.