Home to famous theme parks, arts and cultural amenities and miles of coastline, Florida is a popular retirement destination. The state has a large senior community that accounts for a fifth of its population, and by 2030, more than one in four Floridians will be aged 65 and over. It has several nationally ranked and high-performing hospitals with specialties for older adults, including Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville. Overall, on The Best Places for Seniors study, the state is ranked 44th in the nation. Low marks in health care rankings, housing costs and opportunities for community involvement negatively impact its overall score. However, the local air and water quality are very good and there’s no state income tax, which may make the state an appealing option for retirees seeking long-term care. The state also has generally affordable assisted living rates, with seniors paying $4,000 per month on average for this type of care. 

This introductory guide for assisted living in Florida highlights residential care costs throughout the state and outlines options older adults have for covering services. It also lists some local nonprofit and government agencies that provide advocacy, information and services for seniors, as well as an overview of the regulations governing assisted living facilities throughout the state.  

The Cost of Assisted Living in Florida

The Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey shows that in Florida, assisted living facilities charge $4,000 per month for care, which is several hundred dollars below the national median of $4,500. Even so, it’s among the costlier states to obtain this level of care in the Southeast. Seniors may save several hundred dollars monthly by obtaining care in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia or South Carolina, where respective rates average $3,500, $3,503, $3,535 and $3,612. 

$4000

Florida

$4500

The United States

$3500

Mississippi

$3503

Alabama

$3535

Georgia

$3612

South Carolina

Assisted living rates range considerably throughout Florida, with some cities having rates well below state and national medians and others having higher monthly care costs. The cheapest place to obtain care within the state is Gainesville, where seniors pay $2,350 for services. In Lakeland, care costs are nearly $1,000 higher but still relatively affordable at $3,300. Seniors in Port St. Lucie pay $3,763 for assisted living, and in Orlando, care costs are equal to the state average at $4,000. In the capital city of Tallahassee, rates exceed the national median at $4,650. In Panama City, assisted living facilities charge $5,081, and in the Naples area, rates are the highest in the state at $5,300.  

$2350

Gainesville

$3300

Lakeland Area

$3763

Port St. Lucie

$4000

Orlando Area

$4650

Tallahassee

$5081

Panama City

$5300

Naples Area

Seniors in Florida have several care options available to them, including residential and in-home options, depending on living preferences and budgets. The most cost-effective senior care option is adult day health care, which includes daytime care services in a community setting and costs $1,517 per month. Assisted living facilities charge $4,000 per month for residential services and personal care. For older adults who want to live in their own homes, agencies typically charge $4,767 monthly for basic home care and specialized home health care. Older adults who need around-the-clock medical monitoring may require nursing home care, which is the costliest senior care option at $8,654 for semiprivate accommodations.  

$4000

Assisted Living

$4767

Home Care

$4767

Home Health Care

$1517

Adult Day Health Care

$8654

Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Florida?

Florida’s Medicaid program covers assisted living services directly, putting high-quality care within reach of those with limited income or assets. It uses a managed care model that’s made up of two programs, the Long-Term Care Managed Care Program and the Managed Medical Assistance Program. Basic coverage for assisted living is available under all Medicaid plans, but additional services are covered under plans in the Long-Term Care Managed Care Program.  

What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Florida?

Florida Medicaid’s Assistive Care Services provision has coverage for services provided to income-qualifying individuals in assisted living facilities, residential treatment facilities and family care homes. Coverage is limited to the services in the individual’s care plan and includes: 

  • Help with daily living activities 
  • Help with instrumental activities of daily living 
  • Health support 
  • Medication assistance 

In addition to these basic services, eligible applicants may obtain additional coverage for assisted living under the Long-Term Care Managed Care Program. This program is a 1915(b) waiver and features numerous plans throughout the state.

Assisted Living Waiver Programs in Florida

Long-Term Care Managed Care Program

The Long-Term Care Managed Care Program has managed care plans under contract with the Agency for Health Care Administration. The state is divided into 11 regions, each of which has its own long-term care plans. Limited enrollment slots for this program are available, meaning some eligible applicants may be placed on a wait list until services open up. Coverage may vary across plans, but all plans must provide core services including: 

  • Assisted living 
  • Attendant nursing care 
  • Care coordination and case management 
  • Hospice 
  • Intermittent and skilled nursing services 
  • Medication administration 
  • Medical equipment and supplies 
  • Personal care 
  • Personal Emergency Response System 
  • Physical, speech and occupational therapy 

To be eligible for this program, applicants must be at least 65 years old or have a disability. They must also meet medical and financial eligibility criteria. Enrolling in this waiver has a three-step process. First, applicants are screened for services by an Aging and Disability Resource Center. This screening can take place in person or over the phone and takes about 45 minutes. Through this screening, the ADRC generates a priority score, which affects the individual’s placement on the wait list for services. Once the individual is released from the wait list, they undergo a CARES Assessment of Long-Term Care Needs. Finally, they pick a long-term care plan.

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

Eligibility for Medicaid is determined by one of two agencies. The Department of Children and Families, Office of Economic Self-Sufficiency, determines eligibility for those aged 65 and over who don’t qualify for Supplemental Security Income. For older adults receiving SSI, the Social Security Administration screens for Medicaid eligibility.  

In general, applicants must be at least 65 years old, blind or have a disability to qualify for Medicaid. They must also meet income guidelines. As of 2022, single applicants may have an annual pre-tax income of no more than $17,131.  

Along with Medicaid’s basic eligibility requirements, those who obtain Assistive Care Services must meet additional guidelines. They must have an assessment completed by a physician or other licensed practitioner that indicates these services are medically necessary. This health assessment must show that they need at least two of the following services: 

  • Help with daily living activities 
  • Help with instrumental activities of daily living 
  • Help with self-administered medications 
  • Health support 

Applicants must also reside in licensed assisted living facilities, residential treatment facilities or adult care homes.  

How To Apply for Medicaid in Florida

Individuals may apply for Medicaid online by visiting ACCESS Florida. Those who prefer filing a paper application can mail their completed copy to their local Service Center. Help with the application process is available by calling the ACCESS Florida helpline at (850) 300-4323. 

What Information You Will Need

Before applying for Medicaid, individuals need to make sure they have the following information available: 

  • Proof of age 
  • Proof of citizenship and state residency 
  • Proof of all income sources, including tax returns, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and veterans’ benefits 
  • Proof of assets, including bank accounts, retirement accounts and trusts 
  • Social Security number 
  • Policy numbers for any current health insurance, including Medicare 

How To Get Help Applying for Medicaid

There are several agencies and programs that help Floridians obtain the health insurance coverage they need. Through the following resources, older adults can get help finding the right plan for their needs, understanding their benefits and disputing denied applications or services.

Resource 

Contact 

Description 

(866) 490-1901 

The Agency for Health Care Administration operates the Ombudsman Program, which serves as an impartial third party regarding denied Medicaid claims for prescription drug coverage. Individuals can contact the ombudsman if Medicaid refuses to cover necessary medications. 

(877) 254-1055 

If an individual is denied Medicaid coverage for an eligible service or if they were receiving a service and Medicaid stopped or limited its coverage and they completed the plan’s appeal process, they can ask for Fair Hearing. Through this process, individuals can dispute a decision that wasn’t made in their favor. 

(877) 711-3662 

Statewide Medicaid Managed Care has a free helpline staffed with live agents who help callers enroll in Medicaid and understand their benefits. The helpline is staffed Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Florida?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Florida 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 Florida

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Florida

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 you can take out against the value of your 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 Florida

Several government and nonprofit agencies serve older adults in Florida, helping them obtain the care they need and understand their options for paying for services. The following resources can also connect seniors with social and recreational programming, community-based services and financial and legal aid. 

Resource 

Contact 

Service 

(800) 963-5337 

There are 11 Aging and Disability Resource Centers throughout Florida, promoting access to long-term care resources for those aged 60 and over. Through the ADRC, seniors obtain information on state and federal benefits that may help them cover assisted living services, along with local programs and services such as transportation, congregate meals and durable medical equipment loans.

(844) 693-5838 

The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs provides advocacy, referrals and direct services to older veterans in the state. It helps veterans access state benefits such as health care, free claims assistance and burial benefits, and it can help with filing applications for Aid and Attendance and veterans’ and survivors’ pensions. It also screens for eligibility for one of the state’s six veterans' homes

(800) 963-5337 

Florida SHINE helps older adults make informed decisions regarding their Medicare coverage. It’s staffed with trained counselors who aren’t affiliated with an insurance company and aren’t licensed to sell policies but can help seniors understand the Medicare benefits and compare Medicare Advantage plans, which may help them pay for assisted living. SHINE counselors can also advise individuals on how to protect themselves from Medicare fraud or address issues such as billing errors and denied health insurance claims. 

(888) 831-0404 

The Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program advocates for assisted living residents in Florida. It has trained volunteers who help improve the quality of life for those in long-term care by working with residents and family members to resolve problems and empowering residents to know their rights. Volunteers also visit facilities to ensure compliance with state and federal guidelines.

(888) 895-7873 

Florida Elder Law is an online resource with comprehensive, up-to-date legal information relevant to older adults. Through this resource, seniors can find out if they’re eligible for Medicare Savings Programs and public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicaid, which can help them cover assisted living expenses. It also has current information on long-term care visitation rights. 

(800) 772-1213 

Florida is home to numerous Social Security Field Offices. At these locations, seniors can obtain Medicare and Social Security cards and apply for public benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income and Medicare. The office also screens for Medicaid eligibility for SSI recipients.

(850) 891-4008 

The Florida Association of Senior Centers helps older adults connect with community services that can help them maintain their health and independence. It promotes high-quality programming in senior centers, most of which serve as an entry point for accessing community-based services such as options counseling, Medicare assistance and durable medical equipment loans. The association’s website maintains an up-to-date database of assisted living facilities throughout the state.

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Florida

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including the Florida Department of Health. These rules apply to nursing homes, and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 3/8/2022, 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 FLORIDA COMMUNITIES

Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?

Yes

Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?

No

Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?

Yes

Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?

Yes

Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?

Yes

Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

Outings & Social Activities

RULES FOR FLORIDA COMMUNITIES

Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?

Yes

Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?

No (Conditions Apply)

Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?

No

Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?

Yes

Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?

Yes

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

RULES FOR FLORIDA COMMUNITIES

Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?

Yes

Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?

Yes

Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?

No

Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?

Yes

Are residents being tested for coronavirus?

Yes

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Florida

Assisted living facilities in Florida comply with regulations set by the Agency for Health Care Administration, Bureau of Health Facility Regulation. These regulations ensure a high standard of care for residents by setting minimum requirements for care, staffing and environmental features.  

FLORIDA LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements

Before admitting a new resident, assisted living facilities are required to arrange for a comprehensive medical examination that outlines the resident’s health status, care needs and dietary requirements. This evaluation should take place within 60 days before admission or 30 days after. Based on this evaluation, it develops a written service plan that addresses the individual’s needs and preferences. Residents, as well as their representative, guardian or attorney, should be allowed to participate in developing the plan.

Staff Training Requirements 

Administrators must complete 26 hours of initial training plus a competency test within 90 days of employment, plus 12 hours of continuing education every two years. Within 30 days of employment, unlicensed direct care staff must complete at least an hour of in-service training in infection control and three hours of training in topics related to residents’ needs and behaviors.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements 

Assisted living facilities licensed prior to October 1999 may have up to four residents in a room, and they must have one toilet and one sink per six residents and one bath or shower per eight residents. Those licensed after that date may have only two residents per room, and no more than four residents must share a bathroom. Facilities that serve residents receiving Medicaid assistive care services aren’t required to have apartment-style rooms, but those with residents in the Long-Term Care Managed Program must have private rooms and apartments for residents. 

Staffing Requirements 

Assisted living facilities must have an administrator responsible for monitoring day-to-day activities and a direct care staff that provides personal care services. There must be at least one staff member on-site at all times who’s certified in first aid and CPR. The state requires facilities to have minimum weekly staff hours, averaging about one full-time employee per 20 residents. Facilities must have enough staff members at all times to care for residents’ scheduled and unscheduled needs, even if that exceeds minimum requirements. 

Assisted Living Scope of Care 

Assisted living facilities provide housing, meals and one or more personal care services. They may hire or contract with licensed health care providers to perform nursing tasks, including medication administration and medical monitoring. 

Background Checks for Assisted Living 

Assisted living facilities require level 2 background screening for prospective employees. An individual is ineligible for hire or continued employment if convicted of an intentional or negligent act that jeopardized the health or safety of a resident, theft from a resident or behaving in a way that could cause the facility to lose its licensing.

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy 

Florida’s Medicaid managed care program covers assisted living services under its Assistive Care Services provision as well as its Long-Term Care Managed Care Program. To accept payment from Medicaid, assisted living facilities must be licensed. 

Requirements for Reporting Abuse 

Per state law, assisted living facility staff are mandated reporters and are required to report observed or suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation. Reports are to be made immediately to the central abuse hotline at (800) 962-2873 or online through the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements 

The assisted living facility’s owner or administrator is responsible for determining whether an individual is eligible for admission. Prospective residents must need help with some activities of daily living, and they should be able to participate in social and recreational activities. Facilities are permitted to admit residents who use assistive devices or require skilled nursing services, as long as the facility can provide that care directly or through a third party.

Medication Management Regulations 

Unlicensed staff in assisted living facilities can help residents with self-administered medication. This includes bringing premeasured medication to the resident, informing the resident of the medication and dosage, confirming that the medication is intended for the resident, placing the medication in the individual’s hand, applying topical medications, returning medication containers to storage and recording when a resident took their medication. Only licensed health care workers can administer medication.

Assisted Living Facilities in Florida (194)