Minnesota is home to 5,639,632 residents, and seniors aged 65 and older make up 16.3% of the state’s population. The number of older adults living in the state is expected to increase in the coming years, and by 2030, one in five Minnesotans will be a senior. 

Of the state’s 919,260 elders, over 23,000 now reside in nursing homes. These highly specialized facilities provide 24/7 skilled nursing care for those with care needs that can’t be supported in a less-restrictive setting. Minnesota seniors who require long-term care may qualify for benefits through Minnesota’s Medicaid program, which covers some nursing home costs for eligible seniors. Statewide, the average cost of a private room in a nursing home is $12,025 per month, while a semiprivate room costs an average of $11,026. This guide covers the basics of nursing home care in Minnesota, including long-term care rates, Medicaid coverage for nursing home care and alternative financing sources. There’s also a summary of the state regulations for nursing homes and a list of free community resources for those who require skilled nursing care. 

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Minnesota

At a monthly average cost of $11,026, nursing home care rates in Minnesota are high in comparison to the national average and rates in most neighboring states. Nationwide, nursing home rates run about $7,756 per month, $3,270 below rates in Minnesota. Rates are also much lower in neighboring Wisconsin ($8,684), Iowa ($6,570) and South Dakota ($7,011). Of the four states bordering Minnesota, only North Dakota has higher nursing home costs at $12,167. 

$11026

Minnesota

$7756

The United States

$8684

Wisconsin

$6570

Iowa

$7011

South Dakota

$12167

North Dakota

Within Minnesota, nursing home rates range from $9,730 per month in Rochester up to a high of $12,767 in St. Cloud. Costs are just above the state average in Minneapolis ($11,285) and Mankato ($11,482), while nursing home care is somewhat more affordable in Duluth, where monthly rates run about $10,437. 

$9730

Rochester

$10437

Duluth

$11285

Minneapolis

$11482

Mankato

$12767

St. Cloud

Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, provide the highest level of long-term care for those who require 24/7 medical supervision and support, and that’s why nursing home care is the most expensive care option. Seniors who don’t require the type of medical care that’s available in a nursing home may find that they can safely reside in an assisted living facility, and this type of residential care costs an average of $4,283 per month in Minnesota. Seniors who need adult day health care can expect to pay about $1,979 per month, while 44 hours of weekly homemaker services, also known as home care, cost $5,863 per month. Home health aide services, which include homemaker services plus limited medical care, costs an average of $6,292 per month. 

$11026

Nursing Home Care

$1979

Adult Day Health Care

$4283

Assisted Living

$5863

Homemaker Services

$6292

Home Health Aide

Financial Assistance for Nursing Home Care in Minnesota

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 Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Medicaid Program

As of September 2020, 1,126,414 Minnesota residents were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Also known as Medical Assistance or MA, Minnesota Medicaid covers the cost of nursing home care for all eligible beneficiaries, as nursing home coverage is an entitlement program. In 2019, there were more than 360 nursing homes in Minnesota and 23,444 nursing home residents in the state, the vast majority of whom partially funded their nursing home care through MA. 

In most cases, MA benefits pay partial nursing home costs for eligible beneficiaries, and the balance of the costs are paid through the beneficiaries’ income. To qualify for MA nursing home coverage, seniors aged 65 and older must complete a state-administered Long-Term Care Consultation or a Pre-Admission Screening within the 60 days prior to placement in a skilled nursing facility. Applicants must also meet the financial criteria for enrollment in MA and have care needs that cannot be safely fulfilled in a less-restrictive setting, such as an assisted living facility or within their own homes.

Medicaid Eligibility in Minnesota

To qualify for Medicaid in Minnesota, applicants must be a resident of the state and either a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or legal alien. Applicants must also meet income limits, which are adjusted annually and currently set at $1,064 per month for institutional/nursing home MA, and $2,349 per month for MA waivers. Seniors also need to comply with asset limits of $3,000 for an individual and $6,000 for a married couple applying for coverage together. Minnesota residents who qualify for Supplemental Security Income payments automatically qualify for MA coverage. 

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 Minnesota

Seniors who need long-term care can access free and low-cost services through a number of government agencies and nonprofit organizations. These services include case management, legal assistance, in-person and online support groups and Medicare counseling. 

ResourceContactService
Senior LinkAge Line(800) 333-2433The Senior LinkAge Line is a statewide information and referral line for adults aged 60 and older. Seniors and their caregivers can call the toll-free number to learn about local resources and services for elders. 
Ombudsman for Long-Term Care(651) 431-2555 or 
(800) 657-3591
The Ombudsman for Long-Term Care works to ensure the rights of long-term care residents, including those living in nursing homes, are protected. Regional ombudsmen work with seniors, families and professional caregivers to address issues related to residential and community-based care services, as well as public benefits such as Medicare. 
Alzheimer’s Association — Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter(800) 272-3900The Minnesota-North Dakota chapter of the national Alzheimer’s Association offers a number of programs and services to support those living with memory loss. Consumers can speak with a dementia care expert to learn about regional resources, join an online or in-person peer support group and access the AA’s extensive library. 
Department of Veterans Affairs(800) 546-5838The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs helps veterans and their dependents secure their maximum entitlements through state and federal benefits programs for vets. MDVA Veteran Service Officers help eligible vets apply for VA benefits that can be used towards memory care costs, such as the VA Aid and Attendance and Housebound enhanced pension program. 
Minnesota Elder Justice Center(651) 440-9300The Minnesota Elder Justice Center is a nonprofit legal organization focused on preventing and responding to elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. MEJC provides free legal assistance to vulnerable seniors statewide. 

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Minnesota

Licensing RequirementsNursing homes in Minnesota must have a valid state-issued license in order to operate. Every facility that provides care to five or more individuals must hold a valid state-issued nursing home license. 
Staffing RequirementsEvery nursing home in Minnesota must have an on-site administrator licensed by the Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators. The administrator’s name and their designated substitute must be posted in a public location within the facility. At least one responsible caregiver aged 21 or older must be on-site, awake and on-duty at all times. Shifts may not exceed 12 hours in length, and there must be one designated shift leader at all times with keys that open all locking doors in the facility. 
Staff Training RequirementsAll staff who have direct contact with residents must complete pre-employment and ongoing in-service training that includes an overview of resident rights, nursing home regulations and safety procedures. Direct care staff must work under the supervision of a licensed medical professional, such as a physician or registered nurse. 
Admission RestrictionsNursing homes may only admit and retain residents with care needs that cannot be safely met in a less-restrictive setting. Residents may only be discharged from a nursing home if the facility closes or cannot support their needs; the resident owes rent; they no longer need 24/7 skilled nursing care; and/or the resident poses a threat to other residents within the facility. 
Care Planning RequirementsWithin seven days of admission, a comprehensive care plan must be prepared for each resident that outlines details such as their medical history, cultural and religious preferences and care needs. This care plan needs to include input from the attending physician, a registered nurse, the resident and/or their legal guardian, and it should be reviewed at least once every three months or more frequently if the resident experiences significant health changes. 
Dietary and  Nutritional Services RequirementsNursing homes are required to provide residents with three daily meals plus snacks. Meals must be approved by a licensed dietician, and menus must be posted in a public area within the facility. Within reason, nursing homes should strive to accommodate dietary preferences. 
Specialized Rehabilitative ServicesNursing homes may offer specialized rehab services such as speech and language therapy, physical therapy and behavioral services. If a facility does not have qualified staff to deliver rehab services, the nursing home must have a written agreement in place to provide rehab services through another facility, company or agency. 
Medication and Pharmaceutical ServicesMedication can only be dispensed by staff who are qualified to do so, such as licensed practical and registered nurses and caregivers who have completed an approved medication management training program. 
Activities Requirements Nursing homes need to provide residents with daily age-appropriate recreational activities 
Infection Control Requirements Every nursing home needs to develop and implement a written safety plan that includes infection control steps to prevent the transmission of communicable illnesses and diseases among residents and staff. 
Medicaid CoverageMinnesota Medicaid, known as Medical Assistance, helps cover nursing home costs for beneficiaries who require the level of care provided in a skilled nursing facility.