The Bluegrass State is a haven for older adults with its mild Southern climate, senior-friendly tax rates and strong health care system. Kentucky is home to more than 755,000 seniors aged 65 or older who account for approximately 17% of the population. Some studies suggest that about half of these individuals will require skilled nursing care at some point in their lives. Although home care has become a popular alternative in recent decades, skilled nursing is still a vital part of the long-term care industry.

Kentucky is home to licensed nursing facilities that provide intermediate or custodial care as well as skilled nursing facilities that provide subacute medical care, extended support and rehabilitation. These services include physical, occupational and speech therapy. The state has approximately 290 licensed nursing homes with more than 27,000 beds. Seniors in Kentucky pay $7,330 per month for a semiprivate room and $7,939 for private accommodations, and these rates are slightly lower than the national averages.

Families who are considering nursing home placement for a loved one will find more information about average costs in this guide. It also explores Medicaid long-term care benefits, financial assistance programs, licensing requirements and statewide resources that may help with or delay the need for nursing home care.

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Kentucky

At $7,330 per month, the median nursing home rate in Kentucky is slightly lower than the national average of $7,756 and similar to neighboring states in the Ohio Valley. According to Genworth Financial, Illinois residents pay about $6,235 per month for nursing home care, which represents a monthly savings of over $1,000. In West Virginia, skilled nursing facilities cost $4,000 more per month. However, prices in other states are more moderate. Seniors in Ohio save almost $200 a month compared to those in Kentucky, and Tennessee residents pay over $250 less per month for skilled nursing home care.

$7330

Kentucky

$7756

The United States

$6235

Illinois

$7148

Ohio

$11376

West Virginia

$7072

Tennessee

Nursing home prices across the Bluegrass State vary by just over $1,000 per month. The highest average rate of $8,273 per month is found in Bowling Green. Louisville and Lexington are two of the most affordable cities, with average rates of $7,148 and $7,178, respectively. At $7,604, nursing home care in Elizabethtown is more expensive than the state median but falls short of the national average. Owensboro is moderately expensive with an average rate of $7,787, which is higher than the state and national averages.

$7178

Lexington

$7148

Louisville

$7604

Elizabethtown

$7787

Owensboro

$8273

Bowling Green

Kentucky seniors who require nursing home care can expect to pay $7,330 a month for a semiprivate room. Private accommodations cost about $600 more per month. However, there are more affordable alternatives. Seniors who want to remain in the community can turn to home health agencies, which charge $4,052 for homemaker services or $4,147 for home health care services that provide added medical care. Assisted living is competitively priced at $3,699, which is about 65% less than the cost of skilled nursing care, while adult day care programs cost just $1,603 per month, although they provide limited nonmedical support in a group setting.

$4052

Home care

$4147

Home health care

$1603

Adult day health care

$3699

Assisted living

$7330

Nursing home (semiprivate room)

$7939

Nursing home (private room)

Does Medicaid Cover Nursing Home Care in Kentucky?

As of July 2021, close to 1.5 million individuals were enrolled in Kentucky’s Medicaid program. Seniors eligible for Medicaid who require nursing home care can expect the program to cover room and board and a variety of services, including housekeeping, medication management, medical equipment and supplies and some physician visits.

The state has 288 nursing homes that offer over 26,000 beds. All of these facilities accept Medicaid. To cover additional costs or for seniors who prefer to remain in their homes as long as possible, Kentucky’s Home and Community Based (HCB) waiver program pays for additional services like home-delivered meals, respite care, attendant care and adult day health. The waiver is available to seniors 65 and older or those with a disability.

Medicaid Eligibility in Kentucky

Seniors who apply for Medicaid in Kentucky must meet specific income requirements to be considered eligible. Any income the applicant receives is counted, including Social Security, retirement benefits, dividend payments, unemployment, disability, alimony, veterans’ benefits and employment wages. The total of all sources must not exceed 300% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In Kentucky, this is $30,276 per applicant per year. Assets must also not exceed $2,000 per applicant.

When only one spouse is applying for Medicaid benefits, the spouse who remains at home may be entitled to an additional Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance under the spousal impoverishment rule which ensures the non-applicant spouse has enough money to maintain bills.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Kentucky

Annual Income Limits

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$30,276

$2,000

Two-Person Household

(Only One Person Applying)

$30,276 for applicant

$2,000 for applicant

$137,400 for non-applicant

Two-Person Household

(Both People Applying)

$30,276 per spouse

$4,000

Additional Medicaid requirements include:

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen, permanent resident or legal alien
  • Resident of Kentucky
  • In need of health care/ insurance assistance
  • Ages 65 and older
  • Be responsible for a child 18 years of age or younger
  • Have a disability or a family member with a disability

How to Apply for Medicaid in Kentucky

Seniors may apply for Medicaid online at Kynect Benefits or in person at a local Department for Community Based Services (DCBS). Applications may also be taken over the phone through the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) at (855) 306-8959, or seniors may download the appropriate forms, complete them and mail them to Division of Policy and Operations (DMS), 275 E. Main St. 6W-D, Frankfort, KY 40621.

Information You Will Need

  • Proof of citizenship
  • Government-issued ID
  • Social Security number
  • Employer and income verification for the past 60 days
  • Retirement account information
  • Health and life insurance policy numbers
  • Bank statements for the past 60 days
  • Proof of ownership of property, including deeds and titles
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Proof of any property that’s been sold of transfered in the last 60 days
  • Any additional documentation that might support an individuals’ claim

Additional Medicaid Support & Resources in Kentucky

Kentucky Medicaid supports helps seniors find out about what type of coverage is available for an individual’s circumstance. Most counselors also can check eligibility on additional or supplemental health coverage to cover more of the costs of care.

Resource

Contact

Service

(866) 762-2237

Benefits.gov is provided by the federal government as a one-stop site for available government assistance programs. The websites offers basic information on Medicaid, including eligibility, how to apply and contact information. It also offers information on what Medicaid covers.

(800) 372-2973

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services operates several hotlines on available services and health information, including information about Medicaid and the available insurance choices throughout the state. It also operates the Kentucky Integrated Health Insurance Premium Payment program (KI-HIPP) that helps pay for supplemental insurance.

(859) 283-1885

The Northern Kentucky Council on Aging serves as the advisory board for programs and services for seniors. For individuals, the council offers insurance counseling, including information on Medicaid, Medicare and supplemental insurance. 

Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Care in Kentucky?

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 Kentucky

Seniors in need of nursing home care may be considering the different financial options for paying for services. Medicaid can cover some of the cost of care and private insurance may offers some relief, but Medicare may help fill in the gaps. These programs can help answer questions about Medicare, including how to apply and the available plan options.

Resource

Contact

Service

(855) 306-8959

Kentucky State Health Insurance provides an insurance agent or a Commonwealth of Kentucky kynector can help seniors apply for and qualify for Medicare. Trained representatives also give information on additional state benefits and answer questions concerning applications.

1-800-633-4227

Medicare.gov is the official federal website for Medicare coverage. The site provides virtual chat services that make it possible to speak to a live agent 24/7, seven days a week. Search for plan basics by state or browse the database for information on claims and billing, complaints, general health and health conditions, assistance with Medicare options and information on supplemental insurance.

Seniors can go to the Social Security website, visit their local Social Security office, or call 1-800-772-1213 for help finding out how Medicare can help them pay for the costs associated with Nursing Home care and for help applying. 

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Kentucky

Kentucky offers low-cost and free resources for all aspects of life as an adult living in a nursing home or other residential care facility. There services can address needs like transportation, counseling and companionship to those who need it most.

Resource

Contact

Service

(800) 372-2973

The Kentucky Department for Aging and Independent Living oversees the delivery and administration of a variety of statewide programs for seniors. These include caregiver support services, disease management, diabetes prevention and control and disability determination.

(502) 564-6930

There are 15 Area Agencies on Aging in Kentucky that address the needs and concerns of seniors in throughout the state. Seniors may sign up through their local agency to receive services like home delivered meals, homemaker assistance, transportation and companionship.

(859) 277-9215

The ombudsman program serves as an advocate to seniors living in residential care communities by listening to and responding to complaints of abuse, fraud and neglect. The ombudsman also regulates nursing homes and nursing homes to ensure the facilities provide a high-quality level of care to their residents.

(502) 938-5102

The Kentucky Senior Living Association supports individuals and organizations who operate residential care facilities and provides support to seniors and their families and caregivers. The association also offers publications that address a variety of senior needs and regular conferences are held to raise money to improve the quality of life for seniors.

(502) 564-9203

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs operates regional veterans’ benefits offices throughout the state. It helps men and women who’ve served in the military locate available benefits and compensation that they’ve earned. Benefits include counseling, healthcare, housing, financial assistance, transition assistance and retirement.

COVID-19 Rules for Nursing Homes in Kentucky

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including chfs.ky.gov. These rules apply to Independent Living Communities and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/8/2022, 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 Kentucky 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 Kentucky 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 Kentucky 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?

Not Available*

*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Kentucky

NURSING HOME LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN KENUCKY
Licensing Requirements
The Kentucky Office of the Inspector General licenses, inspects and regulates intermediate care facilities, nursing homes and nursing facilities in the state.
Staffing Requirements
Facilities must have a charge nurse on-site for each shift. Qualified charge nurses include RNs or LPNs with an on-call RN for backup. Facilities must employ a sufficient number of nurses, nurse aides and orderlies to meet residents' needs at all times.
Staff Training Requirements
To satisfy federal minimum requirements, nurse aides in Kentucky must complete a 75-hour training program that includes at least 16 hours of clinical experience.
Admission Restrictions
Residents are admitted by physician referral, and services are only available to individuals who have a variety of medical conditions and require continuous medical care below inpatient hospital service levels. A facility may not admit a person if it cannot adequately meet his or her needs.
Care Planning Requirements
Supervising nurses are responsible for ensuring that each resident has an adequate, up-to-date plan of care on file. Nursing facilities must receive a comprehensive medical evaluation dated within five days of admission, or they may obtain a copy of the resident's medical records within 48 hours of admission.
Dietary and Nutrition Services Requirements
Nursing facility administrators must appoint a full-time culinary director who is responsible for food service operations and works at least 35 hours each week. Residents must be offered three daily meals plus snacks. Facilities that use an outside food service contractor must employ a qualified dietitian to oversee operations.
Specialized Rehabilitative Services
Facilities may provide physician-ordered rehabilitative services, including physical, speech and occupational therapy. Such activities should be overseen by a multidisciplinary team of licensed medical professionals and therapists. Services may be provided by in-house professionals or contractors.
Medication and Pharmaceutical Services
Nursing facilities must supply and administer all physician-ordered medications. Medication plans must be reviewed by an RN or pharmacist at least monthly, and facilities must employ a pharmacist on a full-time, part-time or contractual basis.
Activities Requirements
Administrators must provide a variety of meaningful social and recreational activities as well as reading materials, games and other items that are needed for leisure pursuits and pastimes. Activities should also be available to residents who are unable to leave their rooms.
Infection Control Requirements
Nursing homes must have written policies and procedures for preventing and managing infectious diseases that are consistent with CDC guidelines. They must provide infection control training for employees, and they are prohibited from admitting patients who have infectious diseases.
Medicaid Coverage
Kentucky Medicaid's nursing facility (NF) program covers room, board, medications and medical services provided in participating nursing homes. Individuals must require a nursing home level of care and meet income and asset limits to qualify.