Maine is the northeasternmost state in the nation and home to over 1.3 million people, about one in five of whom are aged 65 and older. It’s a state member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities and offers a variety of benefits to older adults, including world-class hospitals and nursing homes. Among Maine’s highest performing hospitals is the Maine Medical Center, which specializes in geriatrics.   

Nursing homes are residential care communities that provide skilled nursing services and supervision around the clock. On average, seniors in Maine pay $9,642 per month for semiprivate rooms. Private rooms are also available but are considerably costlier at $10,615 per month. 

In this guide, we provide an overview of the cost of nursing home care in Maine, including prices in specific regions and how they compare to costs across state lines. We also summarize financial assistance options available to qualifying seniors, the laws governing nursing homes in the state and some resources available to Mainers.  

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Maine

According to the Genworth 2020 Cost of Care Survey, the national average cost of nursing home care is $7,756 per month for semiprivate accommodations. In Maine, fees are approximately 24% higher at $9,642 per month. While this is high compared to the U.S. median, Maine is the least expensive state in the northeast. In New Hampshire, Maine’s only bordering state, monthly fees are $10,646, and in Vermont, seniors pay $9,779 per month. In New York, seniors pay $12,319 for this level of care, and in Massachusetts, costs are even higher at $12,623.  

$9642

Maine

$7756

The United States

$10646

New Hampshire

$9779

Vermont

$12623

Massachusetts

$12319

New York

Nursing home fees vary across Maine, but all cities are more costly than the national average. In the Portland area, which is the most populous region in the state, fees exceed the state average by 6% at $10,220. In Bangor, which is situated in the northern region of the state, seniors pay $10,494, making it the most expensive city in Maine. In the Lewiston area, fees are the cheapest at $9,125. Across state lines, nursing homes in Manchester, New Hampshire, charge approximately $11,330 per month. In Burlington, Vermont, fees are a little lower at $10,737. In Boston, Massachusetts, seniors pay some of the highest nursing home fees in the nation at $13,383 per month.  

$10494

Bangor

$9125

Lewiston

$10220

Portland

$11330

Manchester, NH

$10737

Burlington, VT

$13383

Boston, MA

Seniors in Maine have multiple care options to choose from. Nursing homes are the most expensive at $9,642 per month, but for seniors who need this level of care on a short-term or intermittent basis, other alternatives may be more appropriate and more affordable. Those who prefer to receive services in their own home pay $5,457 for home health care, which includes skilled nursing services along with personal care, light housekeeping and assistance with daily living activities. Home care is comparable but doesn’t include skilled nursing services and costs $5,339 per month. Assisted living costs $5,942 on a monthly basis, while adult day care is the cheapest option at $3,467.  

$5339

In-Home Care

$5457

Home Health Care

$3467

Adult Day Care

$5942

Assisted Living Facility

$9642

Nursing Home Care

Financial Assistance for Nursing Home Care in Maine

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. Of public financial assistance programs, Medicaid provides the most comprehensive coverage of nursing home care. But, not all seniors are eligible for Medicaid. And 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 Maine.

Maine’s Medicaid Program

Seniors and families rarely pay for nursing home care out of pocket, and many have services covered under MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. As of September 2020, there were 238,944 people enrolled in MaineCare and CHIP. MaineCare includes long-term care benefits and covers the cost of the room, meals, routine supplies, nursing care and any durable medical equipment or related supplies that the nursing home provides. The state plan also covers services provided by a third party, such as occupational therapy, home health services, laboratory services and ambulatory care clinic services.  

To have MaineCare cover nursing home services, this level of care must be deemed necessary by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services through the Maine ASA Program. This assessment tool determines a senior’s eligibility for long-term care and provides advice to the individual and their family or guardian about the most appropriate care solutions. Seniors who qualify for this level of care have approximately 93 nursing homes in Maine to choose from, all of which accept payment from MaineCare.  

Medicaid Eligibility in Maine

To be eligible for Medicaid, Mainers can have an income of up to $2,382 per month and up to $10,000 in countable assets, and they must require nursing home level care. When only one spouse of a married couple is applying for MaineCare for nursing home care, only the applicant’s income is considered. Those who don’t meet income requirements may be eligible through the Spend-Down Program or Medicaid planning.  

Mainers have several options for applying for MaineCare, including applying online through My Maine Connection, emailing an application to Farmington.DHHS@Maine.gov or visiting a district office and applying in person.  

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 Maine

Maine offers a broad range of services and programs for seniors who need skilled nursing services. The following local agencies can help older adults obtain the care they need in their own homes or community settings or apply for financial assistance to pay for nursing home services when placement is unavoidable.  

Resource Contact Service 
Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging (877) 353-3771 Maine has five Area Agencies on Aging, which are nonprofit agencies that receive federal funds to administer services to promote seniors’ independence and access to the care they need to avoid or delay nursing home placement. Some services the agencies administer include home-delivered meals, non-emergency medical transportation and personal care and housekeeping services. Its SeniorsPlus program provides options counseling, nutrition services and care coordination for those who need long-term care.   
Maine Office of Aging and Disability Services (207) 287-9200 The OADS supports older residents in the state by providing long-term care options counseling, nutrition programs, health and wellness programs and adult protective services. It administers the state’s Medical Eligibility Determination program, which assesses seniors’ eligibility for programs and services, including nursing home admission.  
Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services (207) 430-6035 The Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services has offices throughout the state where qualifying veterans can access benefits such as healthcare and dental services, tax exemptions, survivors’ benefits and recreational licenses. Local offices can help veterans apply for the VA pension, disability benefits and Aid and Attendance or Housebound Allowance benefits, which can help them pay for home-based or nursing home care. Bureau staff can also help veterans determine whether they qualify for placement in a VA veterans’ home.  
Maine Community Action Partnership (207) 831-9893 MeCAP is a statewide organization that serves seniors through a broad range of supportive programs that may help them maintain their independence and delay or avoid nursing home placement. Services vary by region but typically include financial assistance with housing and utility bills, weatherization and home modifications, home-delivered meals, companionship and nonemergency medical transportation.  
SHIP & Medicare Counseling (877) 353-3771SHIP is a statewide program that administers free, unbiased options counseling for seniors aged 65 and over. Its volunteer counselors aren’t licensed to sell insurance policies or affiliated with any providers, but they help seniors find Medicare Part D plans, and compare Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. They offer money-saving tips, legal assistance and help with recognizing and reporting Medicare fraud and abuse. Counselors can also help seniors research long-term care insurance, which may help cover the cost of nursing home services.  
Maine Legal Services for the Elderly (800) 750-5353 Maine Legal Services for the Elderly is a statewide nonprofit legal organization that provides free civil legal services to qualifying residents aged 60 and over. Seniors can obtain assistance with accessing public benefits that may help cover nursing home or home-based skilled nursing services, including Supplemental Security Income, Social Security disability benefits, Medicare and Medicaid. The agency also helps seniors manage their debt and protect their assets as they age, and it investigates and resolves complaints of abuse in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.    

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Maine

Licensing Requirements Nursing homes in Maine are licensed through the Department of Health and Human Services. The license issued by the Department must specify the name and location of the facility, the name of the administrator, the maximum number of licensed beds and the effective dates of the license. If the structure itself or number of licensed beds changes, or if the facility undergoes new ownership, it must obtain a new license. 
Staffing Requirements Every nursing home must have a director of nursing who oversees day-to-day operations and enforces a high standard of care. There must be at least one licensed nurse on-site at all times, depending on the number of beds. Minimum staff-to-resident ratios include 1:5 during the day shift, 1:10 during the evening shift and 1:15 during the overnight shift.  
Staff Training Requirements The director of nursing must be qualified based on their education, training and experience in nursing administration and gerontology. Unlicensed care staff must complete a training program within four months of their hire date. 
Admission Restrictions Nursing homes are allowed to decline admitting a resident if they determine they lack the qualified staff to meet the individual’s needs. 
Care Planning Requirements Care plans must be developed by multidisciplinary teams comprised of a physician, registered nurse, the staff caring for the resident and the resident’s family or legal representative. The resident’s needs must be assessed within 14 days of their admission, and a comprehensive care plan must be developed within seven days of the assessment. It must be available to staff members during all shifts and updated annually or whenever a resident experiences significant changes in their condition or abilities.  
Dietary and Nutritional Services Requirements Nursing homes must employ a dietitian or have a written agreement with a licensed dietician to provide consultation. Residents must receive three nourishing, balanced meals and snacks daily, according to recommended daily allowances. 
Specialized Rehabilitative Services Based on residents’ comprehensive care plans, nursing homes must provide or obtain specialized therapy services. The facilities must have a designated space and necessary equipment for providing therapy services.  
Medication and Pharmaceutical Services Each facility must have a state-licensed pharmacist as a consultant to review residents’ drug regimens and evaluate staff performance in administering medications. All medications must be kept in their original containers, and containers must be labeled according to state and federal guidelines. Facilities are expected to develop their own procedures for obtaining, administering, controlling and disposing of medications in accordance with state guidelines. 
Activities Requirements  Nursing homes must have ongoing activity programs to meet residents’ physical, emotional, social and cognitive needs according to their comprehensive assessments. Facilities must have dedicated activities coordinators and activities staff members and have a calendar that’s easily readable by residents. Activities may be conducted in living, recreational and dining areas or outside, and transportation must be provided for off-site activities.  
Infection Control Requirements  Facilities are required to establish programs to prevent, control and investigate infections. This includes identifying residents who are at risk of infection, reporting infections as necessary, enforcing basic hygiene requirements and hiring or contracting with an infection preventionist.  
Medicaid Coverage MaineCare is the state Medicaid program that covers nursing home services for those who meet medical and financial requirements. Some skilled nursing services may be provided in a senior’s home through the state’s Elderly and Adults with Disabilities Waiver program.