Located along the northern Atlantic coast just east of New York, Massachusetts is known for its deep historical roots, stunning coastal scenery and abundance of world-class medical facilities. The state is home to 97 hospitals, including the top-ranked Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the Bedford VA hospital

Seventeen percent of the state’s 6,892,503 residents are aged 65 and older, and as of 2019, 34,363 people lived in nursing facilities in Massachusetts. Nursing homes provide 24/7 skilled medical care, accommodations and recreational programming for those who have complex medical needs due to advanced age, illness or disability. 

According to Genworth Financial’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey, the average monthly cost of nursing home care in Massachusetts is $12,623 for a semiprivate room and $13,535 for a private room. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of nursing home care in Massachusetts, including a look at the costs, links to financial aid programs and services, and a summary of the state laws and regulations that apply to skilled nursing facilities. 

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Massachusetts

At a monthly average cost of $12,623 for a semiprivate room, nursing home rates in Massachusetts are similar to rates in Connecticut ($12,927) and New York ($12,319). Rates are notably lower in Rhode Island ($8,669), Vermont ($9,779) and New Hampshire ($10,646). Rates throughout the northeastern region are well above the national average of $7,756. 

$12623

Massachusetts

$7756

The United States

$8669

Rhode Island

$9779

Vermont

$10646

New Hampshire

$12319

New York

$12927

Connecticut

The cost of semiprivate nursing home care across Massachusetts varies from a low of $11,102 in Pittsfield to a high of $13,383 in the state capital of Boston. Costs are also above the state average of $12,623 in Barnstable Town on Cape Cod. Rates in Worcester ($12,486), Springfield ($11,586) and Pittsfield ($11,102) are all below the state average. 

$11102

Pittsfield

$11586

Springfield

$12486

Worcester

$13326

Barnstable Town

$13383

Boston

Nursing home care, also known as skilled nursing care, is the costliest long-term option for those who need assistance because this level of care involves around-the-clock medical care in a specialized residential facility. Seniors and adults with disabilities who don’t need the level of care provided in a nursing home have a variety of options in Massachusetts.

The least-expensive care option is adult day health care for $1,598 per month, which includes nonmedical care and supervision in a communal setting. Seniors who want residential care may also be eligible for placement in an assisted living facility, which costs an average of $6,085 per month. Those who prefer to remain in their home can expect to pay about $5,529 per month for 44 hours of weekly homemaker service, while a home health aide costs an average of $5,649 per month. 

$1598

Adult Day Health Care

$5529

Homemaker Services

$5649

Home Health Aide

$6085

Assisted Living Facility

Does Medicaid Cover Nursing Home Care in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, Medicaid is part of the MassHealth program. MassHealth has approximately 1.8 million enrollees, although some of those enrollees are members of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which falls under the MassHealth umbrella. Residents who meet MassHealth’s financial guidelines and other qualifications may be eligible for coverage of nursing home stays. The state has around 370 nursing homes, and individuals who qualify for certain MassHealth programs may be able to access medical and personal care services in them. 

Massachusetts runs Home and Community Based Services Waivers that can assist individuals who reside in nursing homes but can return home with proper support. One, the Moving Forward Plan Community Living Waiter, helps seniors who no longer need around-the-clock care transition back to their communities, where they continue receiving medical services like skilled nursing. The Frail Elder Waiver also helps residents receive levels of care similar to a nursing facility while remaining home. Other waiver types specifically focus on individuals with brain injuries.

Medicaid Eligibility in Massachusetts

To qualify for assistance, MassHealth applicants must meet requirements tied to financial need. MassHealth assesses applicants based on household size and income. Other requirements, like being 65 or older, blind or disabled and being in need of certain medical services, may also apply. Specific MassHealth programs can enact their own restrictions. 

An individual applying for Medicaid as well as a couple with one spouse applying can maintain $1,074 per month in income with $2,000 in assets. If both spouses apply, the asset limit increases to $3,000. 

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Massachusetts

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Annual Income Limits

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$12,888

$2,000

Married Applicants
(Only One Spouse Applying)

$12,888

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

Married Applicants
(Both Spouses Applying)

$17,424

$3,000

Additionally, applicants must be Massachusetts residents. They are also required to be a legal alien or citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

How to Apply for Medicaid in Massachusetts

There are multiple routes through which seniors can apply for MassHealth. One option is the online Massachusetts Health Connector. Seniors can also mail a filled-out application to the MassHealth Enrollment Center at P.O. Box 290794, Charlestown, MA 02129-0214. An office located at 529 Main Street, Suite 1M, Charlestown, MA 02129-0214 accepts hand-delivered applications. Additionally, applicants can send in their paperwork by fax at (617) 887-8799. To reach the MassHealth Enrollment Center, applicants can call (800) 841-2900.

A high-level outline of application documentation requirements is below, and the Massachusetts Senior Guide has more information on the necessary documentation and other facets of the MassHealth application process.

Information You Will Need:

  • Social Security numbers for all applicants
  • Proof of income, assets and current health coverage, including insurance premium bills
  • Documentation on other health insurance your household can access
  • Proof of citizenship/national status
  • Proof of identity (such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers)*
  • Copies of both sides of immigration cards (for applicants who are not U.S. citizens or nationals)

*An exemption applies for older or disabled individuals eligible for Supplemental Security Income and individuals with disabilities who receive Supplemental Disability Income.

Additional Medicaid Support & Resources in Massachusetts

These resources can help seniors and their loved ones make sense of the intricate world of MassHealth applications. Their services include counseling and referrals.

Resource

Contact

Service

(800) 841-2900

MassHealth runs a main contact line, but seniors can instead schedule an appointment with a MassHealth representative. At such an appointment, seniors may gather information about renewal forms and new applications, verification requirements and changes to information such as assets and income. MassHealth representatives can also answer general questions.

(413) 527-6425

The COAs of Massachusetts assist the state's older adults by conducting health insurance benefits counseling. They also help seniors and caregivers make use of elder services at the local and state levels. The parent organization maintains an online directory of local COAs.

(800) 342-5297

The Senior Legal Helpline is open to Massachusetts residents aged 60 years of age and up. Its representatives help callers determine eligibility and complete applications for many programs, including MassHealth. It can also refer callers to attorneys who offer legal services at reduced rates.

Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Care in Massachusetts?

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 Massachusetts

While Medicare doesn’t cover nursing home stays over a set duration, it can provide an initial burst of financial assistance in some situations. The following organizations link seniors and family members with advisors able to provide input on individual circumstances.

Resource
Contact
Service

(800) 243-4636

MassOptions is a public service that connects clients with useful resources. Notably for Medicare-related matters, MassOptions provides access to counselors from the Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone program. SHINE's counselors can assist in areas like finding ways to pay for health care and learning about potentially available benefits. Current Medicare enrollees and soon-to-be-eligible individuals may use SHINE's services.

(617) 521-7794

The Massachusetts DOI oversees an online repository of insurance-related information, covering matters such as health coverage and long-term care insurance, which may make extended care services more affordable. The DOI also responds to consumer inquiries.

(800) 633-4227

Medicare.gov is a good starting point for seniors and family members who want to learn more about Medicare. Its hotline's agents can help callers find answers regarding Medicare claims and other information, and it operates a 24/7 online chat interface as well. Basic cost information is available on Medicare.gov, too.

(800) 333-4114

Through its free helpline, the Medicare Rights Center assists clients with tasks like coordinating Medicare with other coverage and choosing between policies. They also aid with appeals and can help clients decide which Medicare cost-savings programs to pursue. The center may also be useful for seniors with complaints about medical care.

(800) 794-6559

Operated by the National Council on Aging, BenefitsCheckUp helps seniors learn about programs that can make medications and health care more affordable. Such programs may reduce the cost of copays and other expenditures. BenefitsCheckUp also focuses on guiding seniors toward additional sources of information and advice.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Nursing Home Care in Massachusetts

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 Massachusetts

Coordinating care for the elderly can become a less daunting endeavor thanks to various resources available to Massachusetts residents. The following organizations may be able to directly aid seniors and their families or provide referrals to other programs and agencies.

Resource

Contact

Service

(877) 222-8387

The US Department of Veterans Affairs oversees long-term care for eligible military veterans in a variety of situations, including when a senior's circumstances call for nursing care. Some of the VA's services are dispensed through state veterans' homes, which have robust care offerings, including access to nursing professionals. In Massachusetts, there are two such state veterans' homes: one in Holyoke and one in Chelsea.

(617) 727-7750

Massachusetts runs ombudsman programs for seniors in community- and facility-based settings. For instance, the long-term care ombudsman service makes advocates available to residents of nursing homes. They assist with complaint resolution and help ensure healthy living conditions.

(1-800) 272-3900

Seniors with Alzheimer's disease and other memory-related conditions can find support and information through the Alzheimer's Association. It conducts care consultations and runs support meetings as well as virtual education sessions. Additionally, the association offers no-cost programming for individuals in the early stages of memory loss.

800 227-3367

The MSCA is a nonprofit organization that represents many providers of long-term care in Massachusetts. Its hotline is a source of information and referrals for consumers, and it also oversees several online resources that may assist with planning decisions.

(888) 243-5337

Senior volunteers staff the Attorney General's Elder Hotline. By providing answers and dispute-resolution services, this helpline aids seniors in matters such as health insurance, housing and long-term care. 

(800) 988-4450

MANHR offers advocacy for nursing home residents and assists them and their families in the decision-making process. Its advocates are available by phone, and the organization's website contains many resources relevant to nursing home care. Additionally, the MANHR conducts educational outreach.

(1-800) 677-1116

The US Administration on Aging runs the Eldercare Locator, which aids older adults and their family members by providing information on housing, insurance and elder rights, among other topics. It also has an online search tool through which users can find local Area Agencies on Aging. These agencies are often useful conduits for many regionally available services.

COVID-19 Rules for Nursing Homes in Massachusetts

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including mass.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 Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts 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?

Not Available*

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)

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

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

Rules for Massachusetts 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?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Massachusetts

Nursing homes in Massachusetts are licensed and regulated by the Department of Public Health in accordance with Regulation 105 CMR 150.00

NURSING HOME LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN MASSACHUSETTS
Licensing Requirements
Facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding must comply with federal nursing home regulations. Under state law, nursing homes are licensed as either Level 1 or Level 2, with Level 1 homes providing the highest level of care and support. 
Staffing Requirements
Licensed nursing homes must have a full-time administrator who is on-site at least five days a week, as well as a substitute administrator. The administrator must be licensed as a Nursing Home Administrator by the Board of Registration of Nursing Home Administrators, which requires that license holders complete at least 40 hours of continuing education annually. 
Staff Training Requirements
Staff must complete an approved Resident Care Assistant course or higher before being hired to work in a licensed nursing home. 
Admission Restrictions
Nursing homes may only admit those who cannot be safely supported in a less-restrictive setting, such as an assisted living facility. Individuals who pose a threat to the health and safety of other residents due to behavior or communicable disease cannot be admitted to a nursing facility. 
Care Planning Requirements
New residents should have a comprehensive care plan that includes a health assessment within 14 days of admission. This care plan is to be reviewed every 90 days or more often for residents who experience frequent changes to their health conditions. 
Dietary and Nutritional Services Requirements
Nursing homes must provide three dietician-approved meals daily plus snacks, and meals need to be prepared in a way that is safe for residents who have difficulty swallowing. Dietary preferences and special requirements should be accommodated. 
Specialized Rehabilitative Services
Nursing home residents can receive specialized rehabilitative services, such as speech and language, occupational and physical therapy, either on-site or at a nearby clinic. 
Medication and Pharmaceutical Services
Medications may only be administered with the consent of the resident or their legal guardian except in emergency situations where the medication is approved by a licensed medical expert. 
Activities Requirements
Long-term care facilities must provide age-appropriate recreational programming for residents. 
Infection Control Requirements
Nursing homes are required to comply with public health guidelines related to the prevention and control of infectious diseases. 
Medicaid Coverage
MassHealth, the state Medicaid program, covers the care costs for eligible MassHealth members residing in a skilled nursing facility certified by state regulations and complying with federal Medicaid participation requirements. Residents are responsible for their own room-and-board costs. 

Nursing Homes Facilities in Massachusetts (91)