Seniors aged 65 and older account for 14.3% of Georgia’s population of 10,617,423, and there are 22,894 nursing home residents in the state. Skilled nursing facilities in Georgia provide 24/7 medical care, supervision and recreational programming for adults with complex medical needs that cannot be safely met in a less restrictive setting. 

Georgia seniors can access high-quality acute and emergency health care service at over 170 hospitals including the nationally ranked Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville. The state is also home to a number of VA medical centers and clinics including the Atlanta VA Medical Center and the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center

Genworth Financial’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey lists the average monthly cost of semiprivate nursing home care in Georgia at $6,722, while a private room in a skilled nursing facility runs about $7,173. This guide highlights nursing home care costs in Georgia, and how those costs compare to neighboring states. There’s also an overview of Medicaid and other programs that include nursing home benefits, links to free and low-cost resources for seniors and their families, and a summary of the state regulations regarding skilled nursing facilities. 

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Georgia

The average monthly cost of a semiprivate nursing home room in Georgia is $6,722, which is $1,034 below the national average rate of $7,756. Average rates in neighboring Alabama are slightly more affordable at $6,540, while the same level of care is costlier in Tennessee ($7,072), South Carolina ($7,298) and North Carolina ($7,300). Just south of Georgia, nursing home costs are significantly higher in Florida, where semiprivate care rates average $8,660 per month. 

$6722

Georgia

$7756

The United States

$6540

Alabama

$7072

Tennessee

$7298

South Carolina

$7300

North Carolina

$8660

Florida

Throughout Georgia, nursing home rates range from $6,266 in Athens to $7,841 in Valdosta. Rates in Gainesville ($6,388), Augusta ($6,509) and Savannah ($6,540) are below the state average, while rates are above-average in Macon ($6,783), Atlanta ($6,950) and Dalton ($7,513).  

$6266

Athens

$6388

Gainesville

$6509

Augusta

$6540

Savannah

$6783

Macon

$6950

Atlanta

$7513

Dalton

$7841

Valdosta

Nursing home care is the highest level of long-term care in Georgia, and this type of care is geared towards those who need 24/7 medical support to manage complex chronic conditions. Seniors who opt to remain in their own homes while receiving support can expect to pay $1,355 per month for adult day health care services. This type of care generally involves nonmedical programming in a congregate setting on weekdays along with a nutritionally balanced daily lunch. 44 hours of weekly in-home care from a homemaker costs an average of $4,004 per month, and a home health aide is $4,099. Residential care in an assisted living facility costs an average of $3,500. 

$1355

Adult Day Health Care

$4004

Homemaker Services

$4099

Home Health Aide

$3500

Assisted Living Facility

Does Medicaid Cover Nursing Home Care in Georgia?

Approximately 2,195,640 individuals are enrolled in Georgia state Medicaid as of July 2021. The program covers the costs associated with living in a nursing home as well as some limited personal care assistance. Specific services covered by Medicaid include grooming, bathing, chore help, meals, transportation and medication management. It also covers room and board and some medical costs, including the cost of medications and on-site medical monitoring and evaluations.

There are more than 310 nursing homes in the state of Georgia, all of which accept Medicaid. These facilities provide hospital-level care for seniors who require specialized care and are unable to live on their own. The Georgia Service Options Using Resources in a Community Environment (SOURCE) waiver helps pay for skilled nursing services, personal support services, respite care, adult day health, and physical, occupational and speech therapy. Seniors who are able to age in place in their own homes may apply for the Community Care Services Program (CCSP) which helps pay for personal care services like home-delivered meals, personal emergency response services, home health care, case management and financial management.

Medicaid Eligibility in Georgia

Institutional or nursing home Medicaid is an entitlement program in Georgia, meaning anyone who meets the minimum criteria may receive benefits. These benefits are only available to those who reside in a nursing home. Applicants get the same $30,276 income limit, so if two people apply, it doubles. However, asset limits run $2,000 for a single applicant, rising to $3,000 for a couple. If only one member of a couple needs nursing home care, the other member can have up to $137,400 in assets while the applicant can only have $2,000. 

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Georgia

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

Aside from financials, there are several other eligibility requirements for Georgia Medicaid recipients.

  • Must meet the required level of care
  • Must already reside in a nursing home
  • Must be a nursing home resident for at least 30 days

How to Apply for Medicaid in Georgia

There are several ways for seniors to apply for Medicaid in Georgia. The easiest way to apply is through the Georgia Gateway Customer Portal website. The website also makes it possible to manage and renew benefits, check the status of the application and report changes. Seniors may also call and apply by phone at (877) 423-4746, in person at any local Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) office or through the mail by completing the necessary forms and mailing them back to the Division of Family and Children Services. All forms may be requested by calling (877) 423-4746.

Information You Will Need

  • A valid copy of your birth certificate or proof of identity and citizenship or immigration status
  • Federal, state or local photo ID cards
  • Social Security number for each person applying
  • Paycheck stubs, payroll records or recent W-2 forms for the last four weeks
  • Proof of income
  • Current health insurance policies
  • Life insurance policies
  • Recent bank statements
  • Most recent tax return
  • Information on assets  

Additional Medicaid Support & Resources in Georgia

The following is a list of available resources for individuals who need assistance in applying for Georgia Medicaid. Most also offer information on the waivers that are available to assist older adults when moving to a personal care home.

Resource

Contact

Service

(877) 423-4746

Benefits.gov is a federal site that helps individuals locate benefits and programs to help pay for healthcare and other services. The site provides a brief description of each program, including how to apply, eligibility requirements and contact information.

(404) 657-5468

The Georgia Medicaid website offers information on the available programs for adults, families and individuals with disabilities. The site also contains the latest news and updates on Medicaid and its waivers and offers a list of providers and pharmacies that accept Medicaid as payment.

(770) 466-7771

The Georgia Health Services Network is the network of medical providers in the state that accept Medicaid and the Medicaid waivers as payment for services. The network offers trained counselors who can answer questions about moving family members into long-term care facilities and can provide educational material on all the plan benefits.

Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Care in Georgia?

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 & Resources in Georgia

There are several programs in Georgia that help seniors navigate the Medicare application process, including assistance understanding the different parts and coverage amounts. The following list contains free resources, including contact information.

Resource

Contact

Service

(866) 552-4464 (Option 4)

GeorgiaCares is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for Georgia. It provides free information on Medicare, including help understanding the available health plan choices and enrollment assistance. GeorgiaCares can also help seniors review Medicare summary notices and explanation of benefits and sort through medical bills.

(866) 552-4464

The Georgia Division of Aging Services offers information on medical insurance, including Medicare, and connects seniors with financial assistance when paying for medical services.

(404) 656-4507

The Department of Community Health helps seniors understand how Medicare works with other health services and can assist with applying for benefits

(404) 463-3333

Empowerline is an Atlanta-based advocacy group that helps seniors understand their different insurance choices. Free counselors are available through email and chat and they also hold health insurance seminars throughout the city.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Nursing Home Care in Georgia

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 Georgia

Georgia offers many free and low-cost services to older adults to help improve their quality of life and make it possible to remain in their homes as long as possible. Many of these services assist seniors transitioning into nursing homes and assisted living.

Resource

Contact

Service

(866) 552-4464

The ARDC is a network of organizations that partner together to provide information on supports and services for seniors and those with disabilities who reside in the state. A full database of support and services is listed on the ARDC website to help seniors locate supports to serve their individual needs.

(404) 656-5940

The Georgia Department of Veterans Services counsels, advises and assists prior military and their families receive the benefits and services they are entitled to. This help includes locating nursing homes, applying for benefits, counseling, education, training and explanations of available state benefits.

(833) 457-7529

The Georgia Legal Services Program provides free and reduced-fee legal assistance to seniors ages 60 and older who meet specific income and resource requirements. The program services include legal information, legal counseling, case representation and legal education.

(866) 522-4464

The Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman works to improve the quality of life for seniors in long-term care throughout the state. The ombudsman serves as an advocate for those in nursing homes and assisted living and intervenes when complaints have been filed. The ombudsman also makes regular visits to facilities to ensure laws and policies are being upheld.

(800) 272-3900

The Alzheimer’s Association helps create community awareness about Alzheimer’s and other memory impairments and provides information to seniors on the available supports and services.

(866) 552-4464

There are 12 local Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state that help seniors remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible. The agencies also provide support to families and caregivers. Programs include nutrition and wellness, insurance counseling, meals and transportation.

COVID-19 Rules for
Nursing Homes in Georgia

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including dch.georgia.gov. These rules apply to Independent Living Communities and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/3/2022, 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 GEORGIA 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 (Conditions Apply)

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 GEORGIA COMMUNITIES

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

Yes (Conditions Apply)

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 GEORGIA COMMUNITIES

Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

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 (Conditions Apply)

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Georgia

Skilled nursing facilities, also known as nursing homes, are inspected, licensed and regulated by the Georgia Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulation office. Georgia’s Rules of Department of Community Health, Chapter 111-8-56, Healthcare Facility Regulation, Nursing Homes include regulations designed to ensure optimal health and safety for long-term care residents. 

NURSING HOME LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN GEORGIA
Licensing Requirements
Georgia nursing homes that participate in Medicaid and/or Medicare programs must successfully pass federal certification inspections administered by Georgia's Healthcare Facility Regulation office, the designated federal inspection agency. Every nursing home must be under the direct supervision of a licensed nursing home administrator.
Staffing Requirements
Licensed nursing homes must have a least one registered, licensed undergrad or licensed practical nurse on-site and designated as shift leader at all times. While there are no set staffing levels, facilities must ensure that sufficient staff are on-hand to provide at least 2 hours of direct care to every resident every 24 hours. Dining aides cannot be counted as direct care staff, and overnight caregivers must be awake and on-duty throughout the night. 
Staff Training Requirements
Every facility must have a registered nurse employed for at least 40 hours per week as the director of nursing services. The staff team must include at least one licensed medical doctor and a dentist. All nursing personnel must participate in an ongoing education program delivered by a registered nurse and supervised by the director of nursing services.
Admission Restrictions
A licensed nursing facility can only admit and retain residents who can be safely cared for within the facility, and who have been referred by a physician. Facilities must have a written transfer agreement with at least one acute care hospital to ensure continuity of care for residents with care needs that cannot be safely accommodated within the facility. 
Care Planning Requirements
New residents must be thoroughly assessed by a physician within 48 hours of admission to a nursing home. A comprehensive care plan outlining the admitting diagnosis, treatment and medication orders, emergency contacts and medical history must be prepared and reviewed by a physician every 30 days for the first 90 days, and on a regular basis following the initial placement period. 
Dietary and Nutritional Services Requirements
Nursing homes are required to employ a dietitian licensed by the American Dietetic Association for a minimum of 8 hours per month. The dietitian must design a nutritionally balanced menu that includes meals served no more than 5 hours apart during the day plus between-meal snacks. Breakfast must be served no later than 14 hours following the previous evening meal, and facilities must maintain a 3-day emergency supply of non-perishable foods. 
Specialized Rehabilitative Services
Nursing homes may offer physical therapy, occupational therapy and other specialized rehab services. When offered, these services must be provided by a licensed therapist, and a therapy record must be maintained for each patient. 
Medication and Pharmaceutical Services
Medication storage and administration must comply with all state and federal laws and regulations. Prescription medications can only be administered by licensed medical professionals, and self-administration of medications among residents is discouraged. 
Activities Requirements 
Nursing homes need to offer age-appropriate social and recreational programming. 
Infection Control Requirements 
Nursing homes must work to prevent the spread of infectious diseases between staff and patients. Any direct care staff with a communicable illness or open sore cannot work until fully recovered. Patients who exhibit signs of a communicable disease or illness must be isolated while contagious. 
Medicaid Coverage
Georgia Medicaid pays the care costs for beneficiaries who require placement in a nursing home for a period of 30 days or longer. Although licensed nursing homes are not required to accept reimbursement from Medicaid, the vast majority of skilled nursing facilities in the state are Medicaid-certified.