With several top-ranked hospitals for seniors, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which U.S. News and World Report ranks sixth in the nation, Illinois has a number of excellent options for older adults who are looking for a place to retire. Of the 12,830,632 people who live in Illinois, 16.1% are seniors aged 65 and older.

The Medicaid and CHIP program in Illinois is quite robust, and the state recently expanded its coverage for lower-income adults to cover more seniors. As of July 2020, Illinois had 3,018,195 individuals enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Illinois has approximately 1,200 long-term care facilities serving over 100,000 residents, many of whom are seniors. Nursing homes are long-term care facilities that provide seniors with round-the-clock nursing care when their medical needs require constant attention. According to the 2020 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, seniors in Illinois pay an average of $6,235 a month for nursing home care in a semi-private room and $7,026 for a private room.

This guide will present important information about paying for nursing home care, how to protect a senior’s rights in a nursing home and what resources are available to seniors in Illinois who need long-term care.

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Illinois

The cost of nursing home care in a semiprivate room in Illinois is $6,235, according to the 2020 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. In Wisconsin to the north, seniors pay an average of $8,684 a month for the same type of room. Indiana, its neighbor to the east, has an average cost of $7,133. To the southeast in Kentucky, the average is $7,330. Iowa has a closer cost with an average of $6,570. Missouri is the only neighboring state with a lower cost, averaging $5,080. All of these except for Wisconsin are lower than the national average of $7,756.

$6235

Illinois

$7756

The United States

$5080

Missouri

$6570

Missouri

$7133

Indiana

$7330

Kentucky

$8684

Wisconsin

Within the state of Illinois, which has a statewide average cost for nursing home care of $6,235, costs can vary from one city to the next. In Chicago, the state’s largest metro area, seniors pay an average of $8,076, yet in Rockford near the Wisconsin border, they pay just $5,825. Champaign shares a similar cost at $5,901. Decatur seniors pay an average of $6,388, while those in the southern part of the state in Carbondale pay $5,232. In the state capital of Springfield, seniors pay $6,996 a month for nursing home care. In the Danville area on the east side of the state, the cost is slightly less at $6,874. 

$6235

Illinois

$5232

Carbondale

$5825

Rockford

$5901

Champaign

$6388

Decatur

$6874

Danville

$6996

Springfield

$8076

Chicago

While a semiprivate room costs an average of $6,235 and private rooms cost an average of $7,026 in Illinois, seniors who do not need round-the-clock nursing care may choose another care type. For assisted living care in Illinois, the average monthly cost is $4,575. Seniors who live at home but need some basic home care pay $4,767 a month on average. For the services of a home health care professional, seniors should expect to pay around $4,862. Seniors who go to an adult day care facility pay around $1,636.

$6235

Nursing Home Semi-Private Room

$7026

Nursing Home Private Room

$4575

Assisted Living

$4767

Home Care

$4862

Home Health Care

$1636

Adult Day Care

Financial Assistance for Nursing Home Care in Illinois

Most people do not pay for skilled nursing care entirely out of pocket. Rather, they utilize financial assistance programs to help cover the cost of nursing care. Medicaid provides the most comprehensive coverage for nursing home care, but not all seniors are eligible for Medicaid. Because each state operates its own Medicaid program within federal guidelines, eligibility and benefits vary from state to state. Below, we provide more information on Medicaid in Illinois.

Illinois’s Medicaid Program

Illinois currently has 3,018,195 people enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP as of July 2020. Of those, approximately 55,000 individuals are using Medicaid to pay for long-term care in a nursing home, and 738 of the state’s approximately 1,200 nursing homes and long-term care facilities are licensed to receive Medicaid payments. Illinois Medicaid coverage for seniors in long-term care facilities is called Aid to Aged, Blind and Disabled Medical (AABD Medical).

Under the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, seniors who have AABD Medical can get help to pay for the cost of long-term nursing home services for those who apply for medical benefits through the Department of Human Services and receive a screening through the Department of Aging. If the DoA determines that long-term care is medically needed, and the individual meets the income and asset limits for Medicaid, they can get approval to pay for their nursing home care. Nursing home care is considered medically necessary if the individual cannot safely live without round-the-clock medical care from a skilled nurse. Custodial nursing care, such as help with activities of daily living or transferring assistance, is not considered medically necessary and is not covered under AABD Medical.

Medicaid Eligibility in Illinois

To qualify for AABD Medical, seniors must meet specific income and asset qualifications. Qualifying seniors must make at or below the Federal Poverty Level, which in April of 2020 was $1,063 a month for an individual. They can have no more than $2,000 in assets. It is possible for some seniors to be eligible for Medicaid services through the Medicaid Spenddown Program if they are over this income limit but have high medical bills. Finally, these programs are available to Illinois residents who are U.S. citizens or legal residents.

Seniors can apply online through the IDHS website.

Alternative Financial Assistance Options

  • Medicare: Medicare will cover the cost of one’s care in a skilled nursing facility for the first 20 days of their stay, and a portion of the costs up until day 100. After 100 days, the individual is responsible for all costs. Seniors must also have a “qualifying hospital stay” of at least 3 days prior to their admission to a nursing home in order to qualify for Medicare coverage.
  • Aid and Attendance: 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: 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. This type of funding can be especially useful for married couples when only one partner needs nursing care, as the other residents of the home may continue living there. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be covered for skilled nursing care. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost of nursing home care, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of skilled nursing care will not be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Illinois

Seniors in Illinois have a number of resources at their disposal to help them make decisions about long-term care, protect their rights and take care of financial concerns. Many of these are offered through the Illinois Department on Aging, which oversees senior care throughout the state. 

ResourceContact Service
Illinois Department on Aging Legal Assistance(800) 252-8966The Illinois Department on Aging offers free legal help and ombudsman services to seniors in Illinois who are age 60 and over through 21 senior legal assistance offices. They represent seniors facing abuse, neglect, fraud, exploitation and nursing home residents’ rights cases, as well as conflicts over state and federal benefits or pensions seniors are qualified to receive. This free legal service may also help with estate planning and provide legal education to seniors.
Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman(800) 252-8966The Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an advocacy program for seniors in Illinois designed to improve the quality of life for those in long-term care facilities. If a senior or a senior’s family feels that a long-term care facility is violating the rights of its residents, an Ombudsman steps in to investigate the complaint and advocate for the resident’s rights.
Senior Health Insurance Program(800) 252-8955 or AGING.SHIP@illinois.govSHIP is a free, statewide health insurance counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries to ensure they are getting the most use out of their medical coverage. Seniors can meet in person with SHIP counselors to get advice about how to save on health  care costs.
Chicago Senior Services(312) 744-4016Chicago Senior Services provides a range of services to seniors living in the state’s largest city. This includes advocacy, family support, senior centers and caregiving assistance programs. Families of seniors in Chicago can call 311 to request senior well-being checks from Chicago Senior Services if they have a concern about an elderly loved one.
Illinois Area Agencies on Aging(800) 252-8966Illinois has 13 Planning and Service Areas served by Area Agencies on Aging. These agencies work with local service providers to help seniors living in their communities find the programs and services they need to stay healthy and well. This can include health care counseling services.

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Illinois

Licensing RequirementsAll long-term care facilities in Illinois are licensed through the Department of Public Health. Licenses are issued for two-year periods. Nursing homes must apply for licensure for all levels of care they choose to offer.
Staffing RequirementsAn Illinois nursing home must have enough staff to give each resident at least 3.8 hours of skilled nursing care. A minimum of 25% of that time must come from licensed nurses, with 10% of the licensed nurse time coming from a registered nurse. Staffing ratios must be high enough to meet these time requirements.
Staff Training RequirementsNursing home administrators must be licensed under the Nursing Home Administrators Licensing and Disciplinary act.Nurse Aides must be approved by the Department of Health’s Nurse Aide Registry, and they must also begin a Basic Nurse Assistant Training Program within 45 days of starting their jobs.Resident attendants must complete training programs that include feeding, hydration, personal hygiene, safety and resident rights units.
Admission RestrictionsA resident cannot be admitted to a facility if it is not able to meet their physical, mental or psychological needs at the facility or with the help of a qualified outside resource.
Care Planning RequirementsEvery resident must have a personal care plan. These plans are made with the input of the resident or the resident’s caretaker. The plan must contain measurable objectives and timetables and address the resident’s physical, mental, and psychological well-being.
Dietary and Nutritional Services RequirementsAll long-term care facilities must have a full-time Director of Food Services who is either a dietitian or a dietetic service supervisor. If a dietitian is not on staff, the Director of Food Services must consult with one. Meals must follow the recommended dietary allowances of the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council. Residents cannot go more than 14 hours without a meal being provided, and nourishing bedtime snacks are required. Menus must be planned at least one week in advance, be made available in the kitchen and be different throughout the week.
Specialized Rehabilitative ServicesThough nursing homes are not required to provide specialized rehabilitative services on-site, they are required to ensure residents receive these services if required by a physician, even if that means taking them off-site. These services must be provided or supervised by a qualified professional in the rehabilitative field.
Medication and Pharmaceutical ServicesIllinois nursing homes must work with a pharmacist and physician to create medication delivery protocols. Medications can only be administered by those who are licensed to do so, such as physicians, pharmacists, and licensed practical nurses with at least one pharmacology course and one year’s full-time supervised experience. The same person who prepares a dose must administer it.
Activities RequirementsNursing homes in Illinois are required to provide ongoing activities programs to meet the psychosocial, mental and physical needs of each resident. The nursing home must have activity personnel, who must spend at least 45 minutes a week on activities planning and implementation per resident in the facility.
Infection Control RequirementsSNFs in Illinois must place residents suspected of communicable or contagious or infectious diseases in isolation. If the facility cannot control the spread of an infection, they must discharge the resident who has the illness. Illnesses must be reported to the local health department.
Medicaid CoverageIllinois Medicaid is known as Aid to Aged Blind and Disabled Medical. AABD Medical covers seniors who are at or below the federal poverty level and have less than $2,000 in non-exempt resources. Qualified seniors can get help paying for long-term care with AABD Medical.

Nursing Homes Facilities in Illinois (164)