Nursing Homes in Alaska
Affectionately known as the Last Frontier, Alaska beckons retirees with its pristine landscapes, rich natural beauty and unique lifestyle. The state has a population of 731,545, including more than 90,000 senior citizens. Residents have access to a strong health care system with 27 major hospitals, including the high-performing Alaska Native Medical Center and the Providence Alaska Medical Center both in Anchorage. The state has 20 licensed long-term care facilities that serve approximately 500 residents at any given time.
Nursing facilities and skilled nursing facilities in Alaska provide 24-hour nursing care and medical services to residents who have an illness, disease or medical infirmity. The average cost of these services is $37,413 per month for a semiprivate room and $36,378 for a private room, which is four to five times higher than the national average. This guide explores the cost of nursing homes in Alaska along with financial assistance programs and free resources that can help you find the care you need.
The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Alaska
According to Genworth Financial’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey, nursing homes in Alaska charge $37,413 per month for around-the-clock care. Provider responses show that rates are 4.8 times higher than the U.S. median of $7,756. Prices are also significantly higher than other states on the West Coast. Alaska’s nursing homes are about three times more expensive than those in Hawaii where seniors pay $12,015 per month of care. Oregon is more expensive than its neighbors California and Washington. However, nursing home care in the state costs $27,299 less per month than Alaska, an annual savings of over $327,000. Seniors who are looking for similar quality of life at a lower cost may consider Montana where nursing homes charge $7,665 per month, slightly less than the U.S. average.
The United States
Since Alaska has just two metropolitan statistical areas, data on local and regional long-term care costs is limited. Seniors in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, pay $31,664 per month for nursing home care. This represents a monthly savings of $5,749 or 15% over the state median. Although Anchorage and Juneau are more affordable than average, nursing home prices are still several times higher than other principal West Coast cities, including Bellingham, Washington, at $8,517; Seattle, WA, at $10,624, and Portland, Oregon, at $10,083.
Long-term care prices vary widely in Alaska. Nursing homes are the most expensive option with a median monthly cost of $37,413. Assisted living costs $6,633 per month. Compared to nursing home care, rates seem reasonable. However, assisted living costs 54% more than other parts of the country. In-home care provided by a homemaker or home health aide costs $5,339-$5,346 per month, which is similar to the U.S. median, and adult day care costs $3,055 per month, about twice the national average.
Home Health Care
Adult Day Care
Assisted Living Facility
Nursing Home Care
Does Medicaid Cover Nursing Home Care in Alaska?
Medicaid in Alaska is more likely to cover in-home care and services than nursing home costs. Waiver programs may fund private duty nurses, respite care, assisted living services, meals and specialized medical equipment for seniors who meet the criteria. If a senior needs long-term support in a nursing home environment, however, Medicaid does offer a specialized Community First Choice program that may be able to fund their care.
Over 125,000 Alaskans are enrolled in Medicaid. Of these enrollees, 54% are over the age of 65 and 15% are over the age of 85. There are 18 long-term care facilities in Alaska. The services and homes covered under Medicaid may depend on where a senior lives in the state and their personal circumstances.
Medicaid Eligibility in Alaska
A single applicant for nursing home Medicaid coverage in Alaska can’t make above $2,523 a month and can’t have more than $2,000 in assets. For a couple who are both applying for coverage, the limit is $5,046 in combined monthly income and $3,000 in assets. If only one spouse is applying, the applicant must meet the income limits of a single applicant. The non-applicant spouse can have up to $137,400 in assets. An applicant’s entire income must go to nursing home expenses, maintenance needs for a non-applicant spouse and Medicaid fees, with the exception of a personal allowance of $200 a month.
2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Alaska
Annual Income Limits
Two-Person Household (One Applicant)
$2,000 for applicant, $137,400 for non-applicant
Two-Person Household (Both Applying)
Seniors must be over the age of 65 or disabled in order to qualify for Medicaid. The treatments and services must be medically necessary. In order for a senior to qualify for nursing home care under Medicaid, they must show evidence that they require an institutional level of care. They must also prove they’re a legal resident or citizen of the United States and a resident of Alaska and that their income is beneath the financial limit.
How To Apply for Medicaid in Alaska
Seniors can apply for Medicaid coverage online, by phone or through the mail. The online resources for determining eligibility and applying are at Healthcare.gov and via My.alaska.gov through the ARIES self-service portal. Seniors can also apply over the phone at (800) 478-7778 (TDD/Alaska Relay: 7-1-1). The third option is printing out a paper form from the Alaska Department of Health website and mailing it to the closest public assistance office. It may take up to 30 days to process the application.
Information You Will Need:
- Social Security number
- Proof of identity, such as a birth certificate, driver’s license, ID card or passport
- Immigration papers for those born outside the United States
- Proof of residency, such as a rental agreement, mortgage statement or utility bill
- Proof of income, such W-2 forms, tax returns, pay stubs, employer statements, bookkeeping records or an agency letter outlining income from benefits, retirement or child support
- Proof of medical expenses, such as billing statements, receipts or repayment agreements
- Any other documents the applicant can use to support their claim
Additional Medicaid Support & Resources in Alaska
The process of applying for Medicaid can be complex. Even seniors who’ve been approved for Medicaid may not fully understand what their plan covers. Families who have concerns or questions about the process or their coverage can reach out to several state and federal offices.
The Alaska Public Assistance offices handle all Medicaid applications for the state. Families can use this phone number or email to ask questions about the process, check on the status of their application and get state-specific information, such as the address of their nearest Public Assistance Office.
Medicaid Information Office: (907) 269-3680
Anchorage Office: (907) 269-3666
Juneau Office: (907) 465-3372
Fairbanks Office: (907) 451-5045
Alaska's Senior and Disabilities Services guides seniors to appropriate programs and community services and helps families apply for Medicaid and discover additional supports they may be eligible for. Families can call Senior and Disabilities Services for more information about Alaska's Community First Choice Program, which can provide nursing home coverage to seniors who meet the criteria.
Various Medicaid plans and waivers cover different treatments and services. The Medicaid Recipient Helpline assists families who've been approved for Medicaid but aren't sure what category their plan is in, what's covered or which waivers they may be eligible for.
Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Care in Alaska?
Medicare provides limited coverage for short-term stays in a skilled nursing facility following a hospital stay, but seniors must meet a number of specific requirements. This benefit is available to beneficiaries who have been hospitalized for at least three days, excluding the date of discharge, so it’s most valuable for those who are recovering from an injury, illness or surgery.
Once seniors meet the hospitalization requirement, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing per benefit period. The first 20 days are covered in full. Starting on day 21, beneficiaries must pay a daily coinsurance rate. After day 100, seniors are responsible for the entire cost.
What Does Medicare Cover?
Medicare covers a number of specific services, including:
- A semiprivate room
- Skilled nursing
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Audiologist care
- Medical supplies
- Medical social services
- Nutritional counseling
- Ambulance transportation
What Isn’t Covered by Medicare?
Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care that addresses seniors’ day-to-day needs. This includes help with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and using medical equipment.
For more information about Medicare and when it covers Nursing Home Care, read our Guide to Nursing Homes.
Medicare Support and Resources in Alaska
Medicare can’t cover long stays in a nursing home, but families who utilize short-term Medicare resources in conjunction with other funding sources may find they have more coverage than they expect. Families who are confused about the process can reach out to organizations that specialize in guiding seniors through the Medicare system.
(877) 486-2048 (TTY)
The official Medicare website contains information on policies, eligibility and how to apply. Families with specific questions about the application process, their own coverage or additional programs or waivers can call or use the live chat function on the Medicare website to speak with a trained representative.
(907) 269-3680 (Anchorage)
(800) 478-6065 (Statewide)
Alaska's Senior and Disabilities Services helps Alaskans receive maximum benefit from their Medicare coverage. The agency offers classes in Medicare and one-to-one counseling. Alaskans can also receive advice about how to spot and resolve errors and avoid Medicare scams.
Alaska's Aging and Disability Resource Centers connects Alaskan seniors with community resources, including transportation, assistive technology or in-home health care. Trained advisers provide information about insurance options and available resources for long-term care.
Other Financial Assistance Options for Nursing Home Care in Alaska
While Medicaid and Medicare are two of the most common programs used to pay for Nursing Home Care, there are other financial assistance options available, depending on your unique situation.
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 skilled nursing care.
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 nursing care. 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 skilled nursing care. 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 skilled nursing care will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.
Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Alaska
The transition to a nursing home can be complicated, but Alaskan families can turn to many supportive organizations for assistance. Some address the needs of special groups, such as veterans or Indigenous Alaskans. All help seniors and families as they transition into long-term care.
Alaska's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program protects seniors' rights as they transition to nursing home care. It can help manage complaints, resolve housing issues and protect seniors from fraud and abuse. Families can also contact the ombudsman's office to discuss conditions at nursing homes and receive advice on how to best care for their loved one.
The Alaska Pioneer Homes Program is a collection of state-run assisted living homes located in Fairbanks, Palmer, Anchorage, Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan. Designed for Alaska residents with low income who may not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, Pioneer Homes are significantly less expensive than private assisted living facilities. If the monthly fees at Pioneer Homes are still too high, additional grants may help subsidize the cost.
Veterans who reside in Anchorage can receive medical treatments, caregiver support and counseling at the VA Medical Center. For Alaskan senior veterans, the Alaska branch of the VA may be able to find or help pay for skilled nursing care or in-home services. Veterans who have signed up for VA health care may even have nursing home care covered under their insurance plan.
A Native-run nonprofit in Alaska, Chugachmiut provides family and vocational services to the seven Indigenous tribes in the Chugach region. They help Indigenous Alaskan elders apply for financial assistance and navigate the process of entering long-term care. Caregivers of Native Alaskan seniors can turn to Chugachmiut for counseling, support groups and respite care. Chugachmiut provides culturally appropriate resources to Chugach elders.
COVID-19 Rules for Nursing Homes in Alaska
The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including dhss.alaska.gov. These rules apply to Independent Living Communities and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/2/2022, 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.
Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?
Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?
Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?
Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?
Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?
Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?
Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?
Outings & Social Activities
Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?
Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?
Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?
Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?
Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?
*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.
COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents
Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?
Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?
Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?
Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?
Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?
Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?