Idaho is an appealing destination for assisted living residents who are looking for an area with wide-open spaces, a reasonable cost of living and retirement-friendly tax policies. The Gem State is home to 1.9 million residents, including 310,000 senior citizens. Idaho is aging faster than the rest of the nation, and it ranks as one of the nation’s fastest-growing states over the past decade. In our 2022 Senior Living Report, Idaho came in 27th for its quality of life, and it ranked 11th for its affordability. Assisted living is particularly affordable. Facilities in Idaho typically charge $3,838 per month compared to the national average of $4,500, which saves residents almost $8,000 a year. 

This guide takes an in-depth look at assisted living in Idaho, including Medicaid benefits, financial assistance programs and licensing regulations. You’ll also find detailed cost comparisons and a directory of free resources to help you learn more about your options.

The Cost of Assisted Living in Idaho

Genworth Financial’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey found that seniors in Idaho typically spend $3,838 per month on assisted living. The statewide median is about 15% lower than the national average of $4,500, which saves residents about $660 per month. Idaho’s rates are about average for the region. Seniors in Wyoming and Montana pay $4,169 and $4,450 per month, respectively. Nevada’s prices are just $88 lower than Idaho’s, and Utah offers a potential savings of $338 per month with its average of $3,500. On the other hand, Oregon is $1,207 more expensive with an average of $5,045, and seniors in Washington pay $6,000 per month, an increase of 56%.

$3838

Idaho

$4500

The United States

$4450

Montana

$4169

Wyoming

$3500

Utah

$3750

Nevada

$5045

Oregon

Assisted living prices in Idaho vary by $1,175 across the state’s major metropolitan areas. The most affordable major city is Idaho Falls, where assisted living costs $3,500 per month. Boise offers a competitive value at $3,586. Prices in Twin Falls are just $18 below the state median at $3,820. Seniors in Pocatello pay about $4,206, which is still lower than the national average. Prices in Lewiston increased to $4,419, and Coeur d’Alene is the most expensive metropolitan area in the state with an average of $4,675, just $175 higher than the U.S. median. 

$3586

Boise

$3500

Idaho Falls

$4206

Pocatello

$4675

Coeur d’Alene

$3820

Twin Falls

$4419

Lewiston

Long-term care prices in Idaho start at $2,167 per month for community-based daytime health programs. Assisted living is the next-most affordable option at $3,838. Prices for home health agencies rise to $5,434, although rates vary depending on how many hours of assistance you require. If you have significant medical needs that make you ineligible for assisted living, you’ll pay between $8,517 and $9,125 for a semiprivate or private room in a nursing home. These estimates show that assisted living is a cost-effective choice. It’s also the only form of long-term care that comes in below the national average.

$5434

Homemaker Services

$5434

Home Health Aide

$2167

Adult Day Health Care

$3838

Assisted Living Facility

$8517

Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

$9125

Nursing Home (Private Room)

Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Idaho?

Idaho covers assisted living and personal care services as part of its Medicaid program for the aged and disabled. The Personal Care Services Program is part of the state’s Medicaid State Plan, which means that it’s an entitlement available to all seniors who meet financial and medical eligibility requirements. This program is designed to help seniors remain in their own homes or in a residential setting of their choice, including an adult care home or assisted living facility.

What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Idaho?

PCSP helps beneficiaries with the activities of daily living while increasing their independence and quality of life. It covers the following services:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Meal preparation
  • Grocery shopping or errands
  • Medication management
  • Companionship
  • Personal care and hygiene
  • Mobility and transfers 

Similar services are covered by the state’s Aged & Disabled Waiver, which provides an alternative to nursing home care. A waiting listing may apply for these services because this is a section 1915(c) waiver rather than an entitlement program.

Other Medicaid Programs

The state also offers Medicaid Plus Managed Long Term Services and Supports for dually eligible Medicaid-Medicare beneficiaries in certain counties. The Medicaid-Medicare Coordinated Plan covers personal assistance, skilled nursing, dental care and prescriptions. Idaho Medicaid Plus provides primary and emergency medical care, skilled nursing and personal care. Passive enrollment in the Aged & Disabled Waiver is available in select counties through these plans.

Seniors who receive SSI or are classified as very low income may receive Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled Cash Assistance to help with daily living expenses, including room and board at an assisted living facility. Eligibility is based on income and resources, and monthly cash benefits depend on the individual’s living arrangements. Income is typically limited to $894, which is equal to the Federal Benefit Rate plus a nominal personal needs allowance. 

Assisted Living Waiver Programs in Idaho 

Idaho Home- and Community-Based Services Aged & Disabled Waiver 

Idaho covers many assisted living services through its Aged & Disabled Medicaid Waiver. This program provides an alternative to nursing home care for seniors who meet medical and financial eligibility requirements. Disabled adults and seniors aged 65 or older may qualify for the following services:

  • Adult day health care
  • Residential care
  • Personal care attendants
  • Homemaker services
  • Chore assistance
  • Counseling
  • Accessibility modifications
  • Home-delivered meals
  • Non Medical transportation
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Personal emergency response systems 

If you or a loved one currently lives in a nursing home and would like to return to your own home or to a less restrictive setting, such as an assisted living facility, this waiver program can help with the transition. Contact your Area Agency on Aging to learn more about this program and other home- and community-based supports.

How To Know if You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Idaho

Idaho’s Medicaid program and home- and community-based services waivers will cover assisted living if these supports are medically necessary and you meet financial requirements. The state sets the income limit at 300% of the federal benefit rate, with adjustments for a personal needs allowance. For 2022, the income limit is $2,543 per month per applicant. There’s also a $2,000 limit on assets, but you can keep a car and many personal belongings. Your home may also be excluded if your spouse will continue to live there.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Idaho

.

Annual Income Limits

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$30,516

$2,000

Two-Person Household
(One Spouse Applying)

$30,516 for applicant

$2,000 for applicant
$137,400 for non applicant

Two-Person Household
(Both Spouses Applying)

$60,792

$4,000

In addition to meeting these financial requirements, you must prove the following to qualify for Medicaid long-term care.

  • You live in Idaho
  • You are a U.S. citizen or qualifying noncitizen
  • You are aged 65 or older or meet Social Security disability standards

How To Apply for Medicaid in Idaho 

The first step toward receiving long-term care benefits is submitting a Medicaid application. If you’re eligible, you’ll be contacted to schedule a personal needs assessment once your application is processed. For your convenience, there are several ways to apply for Medicaid. 

Paper applications can be emailed, faxed or mailed to the Department of Health & Welfare using the following information:

Information You Will Need 

  • Personal details
  • Contact information
  • A valid government-issued ID
  • Proof of citizenship or immigration
  • Income information
  • A list of assets
  • Details about health and insurance
  • Monthly expenses

How To Get Help Applying for Medicaid

Applying for Medicaid is a complex process. You can hire an independent Medicaid navigator or long-term care planner. Additionally, you can turn to one of the following departments or helplines for assistance.

Resource

Contact

Description

(877) 456-1233

For general questions about Medicaid or help with other public benefits, such as food stamps, contact the Department of Health and Welfare customer service line directly, or send an email to MyBenefits@dhw.idaho.gov.

211

The DHW operates 28 regional offices, including units that focus on nursing home benefits, long-term care and community-based services. Use the state's online locator tool or call 211 to find an office near you.

(866) 686-4752

If you have lost or misplaced your Medicaid card, you can contact the DHW at the number listed to request a replacement.

(877) 456-1233

If you’ve been denied benefits or your coverage has been reduced, you have 30 days to appeal the decision starting on the date printed on the notice. Requests can be made online or by contacting the agency by mail, email or fax.

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Idaho?

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

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Idaho

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 Idaho

Idaho provides a wealth of free resources for seniors, caregivers and families. These services can provide information about financial assistance programs and ways to assess your long-term care needs. For assistance, advice or referrals to community-based partners, contact the following government agencies and nonprofits.

Resource

Contact

Service

Varies by region. Call 211 for assistance

Idaho is served by six Area Agencies on Aging that are part of a nationwide resource network. These agencies provide information and advice and administer federal benefits authorized by the Older Americans Act. AAAs can help with long-term care waivers, accessible transportation, meal deliveries, long-term care planning and chronic disease management. A number of services are free to residents aged 60 and older.

(877) 471-2777

The Idaho Commission on Aging administers a wide range of programs to promote healthy, safe aging. These include senior nutrition services, congregate meals, transportation, case management, legal advice and relief services for unpaid caregivers. Adult Protective Services are available to those who have experienced abuse or neglect, and Senior Medicare Patrol helps beneficiaries combat fraud and billing errors. Many of these programs are administered by the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Centers and Area Agencies on Aging.

(208) 577-2855

Idaho’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman is dedicated to advocating for residents of the state’s assisted living facilities and nursing homes to ensure their personal rights and preferences are respected. Ombudsmen provide consultations to families considering long-term care. They investigate complaints and visit each facility in the state at least quarterly.

(800) 772-1213

Seniors in Idaho can apply for Social Security or manage their benefits online or by contacting the nearest field office. In addition to offering monthly Social Security retirement and disability payments, it handles Medicare enrollment and provides information regarding eligibility for premiums and other out-of-pocket expenses.

(800) 247-4422

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program is a free service sponsored by the Idaho Department of Insurance. It provides unbiased information and insurance counseling to help Medicare beneficiaries understand their coverage options and compare plans. If you need help paying your premiums or out-of-pocket expenses, counselors can see if you qualify for extra help or the Medicare Savings Program.

(208) 780-1301

The Idaho Division of Veterans Services operates seven regional field offices staffed by accredited service officers trained to help service members and their spouses or dependents access available benefits. These programs include VA health care, pensions, Aid & Attendance supplements and transportation to medical appointments. The state also operates four veterans' homes for those who require long-term care.

(208) 746-7541

The Senior Legal Advice line is a free legal service available to seniors aged 60 and older. As a pro bono law firm, Idaho Legal Aid Services helps low-income residents with a variety of civil legal issues, including housing, health care, insurance, family law and consumer rights. Attorneys can also help you set up a will or advance directive to make your wishes known to your loved ones.

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Idaho

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including coronavirus.idaho.gov and cdc.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 3/22/2022, 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 Idaho 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?

Not Available*

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?

Yes

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 Idaho Communities

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

Yes

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 (Conditions Apply)

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

Yes (Conditions Apply)

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

Rules for Idaho Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

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 (Conditions Apply)

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Idaho

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is responsible for licensing residential assisted living facilities and ensuring that they follow state regulations for health, safety, staffing and resident care. You can learn more about these requirements below.

IDAHO LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements

Residential assisted living facilities must complete a comprehensive assessment before admitting each resident. Findings must be used to create a personalized plan of care within 14 days of admission. Care plans are reassessed annually or following a change in health. A registered nurse is required to visit the facility at least once every 90 days to complete quarterly health assessments.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements

Facilities must develop written policies and procedures regarding admissions, transfers and discharge. They are prohibited from admitting residents who are violent, unable to self-evacuate or require ongoing skilled nursing or other services the facility isn't licensed to provide.

Assisted Living Scope of Care

Residential assisted living facilities provide room, board, personal care and assistance with daily activities in a homelike environment that promotes residents' dignity and independence. These services include supervision, housekeeping, laundry and medication assistance if needed. Administrators must develop policies to encourage socialization and on- and off-site recreation.

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy

Medicaid covers personal care and other assisted living services in Idaho. These benefits are available to individuals who meet medical and financial criteria as a way to delay the need for nursing home placement.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements

Idaho has specific standards for common areas and resident accommodations. Facilities must provide at least 30 square feet of communal living areas, dining rooms and activity spaces for each licensed bed or unit. Private sleeping areas are required to include at least 100 square feet of floor space. Designated rooms may be shared by up to two or four residents depending on the facility's age. There are additional requirements for closets, windows, exterior access and security and emergency call systems.

Medication Management Regulations

If residents require assistance with prescription or over-the-counter medications, activities must be carried out by a licensed nurse or an unlicensed worker who has completed an approved training course. Facilities and staff must comply with applicable regulations established by the Idaho Board of Nursing.

Staffing Requirements

Written staffing policies are required based on the facility's configuration and the number of residents. Facilities must maintain sufficient staff to meet residents' needs and provide care that's consistent in their negotiated service agreements. Attendants are required to be awake and available 24 hours a day in each building or unit, and at least one direct-care worker who is certified in CPR and first aid must be on-site at all times. Some services must be performed by a licensed nurse.

Staff Training Requirements

Facilities must develop written policies for staff training and keep appropriate records in personnel files. Staff members are required to complete at least 16 hours of orientation in their first 30 days of employment before providing unsupervised assistance. Staff also complete at least 8 hours of continued training annually. Additional training is required for staff who serve individuals with specific conditions, such as dementia or traumatic brain injuries.

Background Checks for Assisted Living

Idaho requires a criminal history and background check for all direct-care workers and contractors. New employees must self-disclose any convictions, and facilities must check a number of databases, including the state's nurse aide registry.

Requirements for Reporting Abuse

Facilities must have written policies and procedures for preventing and reporting abuse, and administrators are required to investigate reports within 30 days. Reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation should be made to Adult Protective Services. The Idaho Commission on Aging provides an online system for mandated reporters. All other parties should contact their Area Agency on Aging for assistance.