Out of the 5,758,736 people living in Colorado in 2019, more than 840,000 (14.6%) were aged 65 or older. During the same year, just over 16,000 people lived in certified nursing facilities. Colorado has plenty to offer older adults in need of skilled nursing and other medical services. The Centennial State has 66 hospitals with a total of 8,132 staffed beds, along with 223 certified nursing facilities, giving residents access to a wide network of physicians and other healthcare providers.

Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, provide a variety of medical and personal services to older adults who are unable to live independently. In Colorado, nursing home care costs an average of $8,517 per month for a semiprivate room and $9,733 per month for a private room.

This guide contains detailed information to help older adults and their loved ones understand their options for long-term care. It includes an overview of nursing home costs, a list of agencies that provide information and referrals to relevant resources, and an overview of the regulations Colorado nursing homes must follow.

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Colorado

When compared to nearby states, Colorado is the most expensive when it comes to nursing home care. The average cost of care in the Centennial State, which comes in at $8,517 per month for a semiprivate room, also exceeds the national average of $7,756. Average costs vary based on several factors, including the location of the facility and the combination of services and amenities provided. With an average of $5,323 per month, Oklahoma has the lowest cost in the region by far. Aside from Colorado, New Mexico has one of the highest average costs at $7,406 per month. Kansas and Utah fall somewhere in the middle with average monthly costs of $6,692 and $6,388 per month, respectively.

$8517

Colorado

$7756

The United States

$5323

Oklahoma

$6388

Utah

$6692

Kansas

$7406

New Mexico

The cost of nursing home care ranges from just over $8,000 to more than $9,000 per month in Colorado’s most populous cities. With an average cost of $9,064 per month, Denver is the most expensive; Boulder isn’t far behind at $9,049. Fort Collins comes in at $8,971, while Pueblo and Colorado Springs are at the lower end of the range with average costs of $8,425 and $8,289 per month, respectively.

$8289

Colorado Springs

$8425

Pueblo

$8971

Fort Collins

$9049

Boulder

$9064

Denver

Several types of care are available to Colorado seniors, including assisted living, adult day care, nursing home care and in-home care services. The cost of these services varies based on the provider and the amount of care provided. With monthly costs averaging $1,625 in Colorado, adult day care is the least expensive. Assisted living facilities offer assistance with some activities, but they don’t provide around-the-clock medical care, so they cost an average of $4,575 per month in Colorado. In-home care eliminates the expense of room and board; as a result, homemaker services and home health care services in Colorado have an average cost of $5,339. Nursing home care is the most expensive option, averaging $8,517 per month for a semiprivate room and $9,733 for a private room.

$8517

Nursing home (semiprivate room)

$9733

Nursing home (private room)

$1625

Adult day care

$4575

Assisted living

$5339

Home health care

$5339

Homemaker services

Does Medicaid Cover Nursing Home Care in Colorado?

In Colorado, there are over 1.5 million individuals and families enrolled in Medicaid. The program covers the cost of nursing care and medically related social services, as well as various rehabilitation therapies. Living accommodations and housekeeping fees are also paid for by Medicaid, in addition to on-site visits with a physician and prescription medications.

There are over 200 nursing homes located throughout the state, many of which accept Medicaid. In addition to nursing home care, Medicaid can also cover the cost of community-based care services and home-based services for qualifying individuals. As an alternative to institutionalized care, the state offers Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers for seniors who want to age in place in the comfort of their own home.

Medicaid Eligibility in Colorado

For single applicants, the monthly income limit is $2,523 and they can have no more than $2,000 in assets. If one spouse is applying from a two-person household, the income limits are the same; however, under the Spousal Impoverishment Act, the non-applicant spouse can have up to $137,400 in assets. Couples who are applying together can have a monthly income of no more than $5,046 and $3,000 in assets (if applying for separate rooms) or $4,000 ( if applying for a shared room.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Colorado

Annual Income Limits

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$30,276

$2,000

Two-Person Household (Only One Person Applying)

$30,276

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

Two-Person Household (Both People Applying)

$60,552

$3,000 in separate rooms/ $4,000 in shared room

In addition to the financial requirements, seniors must also need skilled nursing-level care and meet a few other requirements, such as proof of age. Other qualifications include:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Military discharge status
  • Proof of residence in Colorado

How to Apply for Medicaid in Colorado

Seniors and loved ones can apply for Medicaid using the Health First Colorado website. Paper applications can be printed from the Apply by Mail webpage. Individuals can also apply over the phone at (800) 221-3943,or in-person at a local county office or an application assistance office. Applicants should make sure they have all the appropriate documents prepared beforehand to prevent the application from being delayed. It can take up to three weeks longer to amend and reprocess a corrected application.

Information You Will Need:

  • Birth certificate 
  • Medicare cards 
  • Social security card, or green card for applicants born outside the United States
  • Copies of life insurance policies
  • Proof of bank statements for the previous 60 months from the date on the application
  • Proof of earned and unearned income from the previous 60 months
  • Car registration and insurance documents
  • Property deeds and Proof of any real properties sold or transferred in the previous 60 months
  • Preneed burial contract 
  • Proof of pension, including a letter of verification from the provider
  • VA discharge papers (such as DD 214), for veterans applicants
  • Any other documents that support the applicant’s claim

Additional Medicaid Support & Resource in Colorado

Families applying for Medicaid may also benefit from some of the resources listed below. For those who need extra help, professional planners can be found through Medicaid Planning Assistance. Additionally, seniors who qualify for HCBS waivers have the option of receiving care services in their home, instead of long-term care facilities.

Resource

Contact

Service

(800) 221-3943

In-Home Support Services is a Medicaid program for seniors who need personal care and home maintenance services. Companion and homemaking services are provided by agency-certified professionals, including nursing staff. Homemakers can assist with cleaning and laundry, as well as preparing meals. Medicaid in-home support services are available through the Elderly, Blind, and Disabled Waiver.

(800) 221-3943

Health First Colorado is the state’s Medicaid program. Available in English and Spanish, the website has links for finding local providers and allows individuals to apply using their online portal or traditional methods. Applicants can find a plethora of information about what the program covers and how to qualify. They can also download the applications, available for iOS and Android, to update their information and view their member ID cards.

(303) 866-5402

Medicare Savings Programs are available to low-income seniors and families who need assistance with out-of-pocket costs from Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Qualifying individuals are covered whether they pay premiums or deductibles. The program is based on a tier system to provide as much savings as the beneficiary needs.

Online Only

The Medicaid Planning Assistance website has an eligibility guide for Medicaid programs in each state and state-funded HCBS waivers. Using the website’s eligibility tool, seniors and families can determine their needs and find the appropriate Medicaid planner. Individuals can also find articles about how VA and Medicare benefits work with Medicaid and other factors of long-term care, such as power of attorney and estate planning.

(303) 866-2993

Benefits.gov is the United States government's official website for finding active local and state resources that can help seniors with community-based long-term care services and home safety modifications for those who want to age in place at home. Using the Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool from the Social Security Administration, users can determine if they qualify for Medicaid and other federally funded benefits, including Social Security income.

Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Care in Colorado?

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:

  • Meals
  • A semiprivate room
  • Medications
  • 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 Florida

While Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, there are resources for qualifying Medicare beneficiaries to cover out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, seniors and families can use the official Medicare website to find professional insurance counselors and manage their benefits.

Resource

Contact

Service

(888) 696-7213

The Colorado State Health Insurance Assistance Program provides free and unbiased Medicare counseling for seniors and their caregivers. In addition to explaining supplemental coverage options, counselors can also give group presentations about the basics of Original Medicare and the application process. Qualifying seniors can apply for financial assistance to cover out-of-pocket costs, such as prescription medications and medical supplies.

(303) 866-5700

Supervised by the state and administered by the county, the Office of Adult and Disability Services has programs designed to promote the health and independence of seniors. The agency offers caregiver support and legal assistance for a wide range of civil matters, such as housing and income. Nutritional services include congregate and home-delivered meals, along with counseling services from a registered dietitian.

(800) 794-6559

Available in English and Spanish, BenefitsCheckUp helps individuals find local resources after answering a short questionnaire to assess their needs and eligibility. Provided by the National Council on Aging, the website offers access to over 2,500 federal and state programs, such as tax relief programs and income assistance. Other benefits include pension assistance and free or low-cost transportation programs.

(800) 633-4227

The official Medicare website offers links to local Medicare professionals and the free “Medicare and You” handbook. Users can use their online accounts to apply for Medicare benefits and enroll in plans. Search results from the website’s Medicare-registered provider and medical equipment supplier directory tools are provided by the National Suppliers Clearinghouse (NSC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Other Financial Assistance Options for Nursing Home Care in Colorado

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.

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 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 Colorado

Families and seniors looking for long-term skilled nursing care in Colorado may benefit from any of the listed resources, such as the state’s facility comparison tool. Additionally, long-term ombudsmen can assist seniors already residing in nursing homes with investigating complaints or just making friendly visits.

Resource

Contact

Resource

(970) 246-0501

The Colorado Association of Area Agencies on Aging has 16 offices located throughout the state. Seniors and families can find case management and in-home services, as well as nutrition counseling and other programs that promote health and wellness. The agency also works with local Medicare counselors and long-term care ombudsmen to educate seniors and loved ones about their rights and consult regarding care options.

(303) 692-2000

The Department of Public Health & Environment provides this online tool to help families looking for nursing homes in Colorado. Users can view the bed count of each facility and any inspection-worthy complaints against a particular facility. Citations include a report regarding the complaint and how the situation was remedied. The online tool also offers facilities’ most recent contact and owner information.

Contact Your Local Area Agency on Aging

Provided by the Department of Human Services, the state ombudsman can assist residents of nursing homes with ensuring their facility is following federal and state regulations. Seniors and loved ones can contact ombudsmen with concerns of neglect, along with lack of appropriate level care or medication mismanagement. Ombudsmen can also help families search for local nursing homes. 

(303) 866-6425

The state Veterans Community Living Centers provide long- and short-term nursing care services, including memory care. Both VA benefits and Medicare can cover the cost of long-term care, while Medicare covers short-term care, such as physical rehabilitation therapy. Honorably discharged veterans and their spouses, as well as Gold Star parents can apply for residence at a state Community Living Center.

COVID-19 Rules for Nursing Homes in Colorado

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including covid19.colorado.gov. These rules apply to Independent Living Communities and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/7/2022, 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 Colorado 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?

Yes

Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

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

Yes

Outings & Social Activities

Rules for Colorado 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 Colorado 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

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Colorado

NURSING HOME LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN COLORADO
Licensing Requirements
Each private nursing home in Colorado must obtain a license to operate from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. Governmental facilities must obtain a certificate of compliance. Facilities with more than one location must obtain a separate license for each location. To obtain a license, facility administrators must submit a completed application and licensing fee, schedule an inspection and demonstrate that the facility is in compliance with all relevant regulations.
Staffing Requirements
Every facility must have a staffing plan with details on the distribution of personnel and an explanation of how personnel will be replaced if they leave the facility. Each facility must also have a medical director who's responsible for acting as a liaison between the nursing home and outside medical providers. The facility administrator must have an active Colorado nursing home administrator license in good standing.
Staff Training Requirements
Nursing homes must provide on-the-job training to ensure employees have the knowledge and skills needed to provide quality care to residents. All staff members must receive annual training on topics such as infection control, accident prevention, fire safety, resident rights, disaster preparedness and person-centered care, among others. The facility must document all completed training and retain the records.
Admission Restrictions
SNFs are only permitted to admit residents whose needs can be met with the facility's existing services. A new resident can't be admitted unless a standard resident bedroom is available. State law prohibits SNFs from putting more than four residents in one room.
Care Planning Requirements
Each resident must have a care plan developed to address his or her individual medical and psychosocial needs. Staff members must also identify residents with an elevated risk of accidents and develop a care plan with strategies for preventing injury.
Dietary and Nutritional Services Requirements
SNFs must give residents some flexibility on when to eat their main meals. All meals must be well-balanced, appealing and nutritious. Meals must also meet any special dietary requirements recommended by a medical professional, such as low-carb meals for diabetics. Each facility must have a registered dietitian in charge of its dietary services.
Specialized Rehabilitative Services
Residents must receive the rehabilitative care they need to maintain their highest possible levels of independence and well-being. Care plans must document any rehabilitative needs and outline how those needs will be met by staff members.
Medication and Pharmaceutical Services
Medications must only be administered when ordered by a physician or other licensed medical practitioner. Staff members are required to verify the identification of each medication when it's prepared as well as when it's administered. Staff members must document the resident's name, the name of the medication, the dosage, the route of administration and the reason for giving the medication each time medication is administered. Each facility must have a licensed pharmacist oversee its pharmaceutical services.
Activities Requirements 
To preserve quality of life, residents of SNFs must be given some degree of choice in their activities. Within 21 days of a resident's arrival, staff members must develop an activities care plan designed to meet the new resident's unique needs.
Infection Control Requirements 
Every facility must have an infection control program that includes annual training on infection prevention for all staff members. Facilities must also have written policies regarding the transmission of communicable diseases. Policies should address topics such as the handling of soiled linens, the use of gloves when handling soiled items and proper disposal of medical waste.
Medicaid Coverage
Health First Colorado covers SNF care for seniors who meet income and other eligibility requirements. For Medicaid to cover their long-term care costs, seniors must also be assessed as needing 24-hour nursing care.