Nebraska is home to about 2 million people, and it has a large senior population that accounts for over 16% of the population. It supports its aging population through over 200 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, as well as nearly 100 hospitals, including four that provide long-term care. Among its top-ranking hospitals are Nebraska Medical Center and Bryan Medical Center, both of which specialize in senior care.  

Nursing homes in Nebraska provide private and semiprivate rooms, three daily meals, social services, nursing services and most of the medical supplies and equipment residents need. On average, seniors in the state pay $7,194 per month for semiprivate accommodations. Private rooms are a little costlier at $7,931 monthly.   

This guide provides an overview of the cost of nursing home care in Nebraska and how it compares to fees in nearby states and other types of senior care. It outlines the state’s programs and agencies that can help seniors find alternatives to nursing home placement or options for covering costs. The guide also summarizes the rules and regulations that nursing homes in the state must comply with to maintain licensing.   

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Nebraska

According to the Genworth 2020 Cost of Care Survey, semiprivate rooms in nursing homes in Nebraska cost $7,194 per month, which is about 7% cheaper than the national average of $7,756. While this state is a relatively affordable option for this level of care, several of its bordering states have lower monthly fees. In Iowa, which borders on the east, seniors pay the lowest fees in the region of $6,570 per month. In Kansas, to the south of Nebraska, fees come in at $6,692, and in South Dakota, nursing home care costs $7,011 per month. Wyoming is the only neighboring state with higher care costs, with fees exceeding the national average at $8,258 per month.  

$7194

Nebraska

$7756

The United States

$7011

South Dakota

$6570

Iowa

$6692

Kansas

$8258

Wyoming

Nursing home fees vary depending on factors such as local living costs, amenities and service fee schedules. The most affordable city for nursing home care is Grand Island, where seniors pay approximately $6,608 monthly. In the capital city of Lincoln, fees are closer to the state median at $7,254, and in Omaha, the state’s most populous city, fees are the highest at $8,182 per month. Across state lines, local nursing home fees range widely. Manhattan, Kansas, which is about 70 miles south of Nebraska’s border, is one of the cheapest nearby cities at $5,735 monthly. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, fees exceed Nebraska’s median at $7,650. Cheyenne, Wyoming, is one of the most expensive nearby cities at $8,547 per month.  

$6608

Grand Island

$7254

Lincoln

$8182

Omaha Area

$7650

Sioux Falls, SD

$8547

Cheyenne, WY

$5735

Manhattan, KS

Nursing home care is the most expensive senior care option in Nebraska, and seniors who need short-term or intermittent skilled nursing services may have more affordable options. Home health care, which features personal care, housekeeping and some nursing services in the individual’s home, is considerably more economical, with monthly fees averaging $4,957 for 44 hours per week of care. In-home care, which includes homemaker services but doesn’t offer nursing care, is a little cheaper at $4,862. Limited skilled nursing services may also be administered in assisted living facilities, where seniors pay $4,188 per month. The most affordable senior care option in Nebraska is adult day care, which costs $1,560 per month.  

$4862

In-Home Care

$4957

Home Health Care

$1560

Adult Day Care

$4188

Assisted Living Facility

$7194

Nursing Home Care

Does Medicaid Cover Nursing Home Care in Nebraska?

Yes, Medicaid in Nebraska offers seniors a full range of services in nursing homes and other skilled living communities, as the program usually covers 100% of the costs of staying in a residential care facility, including room and board, dietary services, nursing care, oxygen, and most medical equipment and supplies. It will often pay for additional services such as physical and occupational therapy as long as the service focuses on restoration of lost function.   

Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reveals that in July 2021, more than 298,000 Nebraska seniors were enrolled in Medicaid. Fortunately, the state has more than 200 nursing homes with a total of 15,409 licensed beds. The seniors who live in skilled nursing facilities often require access to advanced nursing care and dependable, affordable room and board. At an average cost of $7,483 per month for a semiprivate room, skilled nursing care is often beyond the reach of financial assistance through Medicare. Medicaid services can often mean the difference between living comfortably with a decent quality of care or struggling to find the financial means to stay healthy. 

Medicaid Waiver programs are variants of Medicaid that allow the government to waive its Medicaid rules to allow those who most need services to benefit from them in a community setting rather than in an institution. Nebraska has a number of Medicaid Waivers for seniors, including the Aged & Disabled Waiver, the Respite Waiver, the PERS Waiver and the Assisted Living Waiver. Many of these programs have a current waiting list, although in some cases a senior could be given emergency access. 

Medicaid Eligibility in Nebraska

To be eligible for nursing home care, seniors must require a “nursing facility level of care,” which means they must have many of the same care requirements as those who are already living in a skilled nursing facility. This usually means they need assistance with much of their personal care tasks such as bathing, grooming, eating or mobility. In addition, applicants will need to have a Preadmission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR) to ensure they’re medically stable yet require 24-hour care and supervision due to long-lasting health issues.

Monthly income requirements for seniors applying for Medicaid are straightforward. Seniors are typically designated as categorically needy and must have an income of 100% of the Federal Poverty Level or less. Individuals can make up to $13,596 per year in Social Security, pension, disability and veterans’ benefits, and they can have assets amounting to $4,000. A married couple who apply together for Medicaid coverage can earn up to $18,312 per year with up to $6,000 in assets. The applicant’s private home, vehicle, business-owned property and irrevocable burial funds are not counted as assets.

If only one spouse is applying for coverage, the applicant’s assets must not amount to more than $4,000. The Spousal Impoverishment provisions demand that an applicant’s spouse not be subjected to that limitation. Therefore, they may have assets of up to $137,400.  Medicaid covers nursing-level care provided in a nursing home, residential facility or private home.

Income Limits* 
Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$13,596

$4,000

Two-Person Household
(Only One Person Applying)

$13,596

$4,000 for applicant 
$137,400 for non-applicant

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$18,312

$6,000 

*Per year

In addition to these financial requirements, seniors seeking Medicaid in Nebraska must meet several additional qualifications. These include:

  • 65 or older
  • Resident of Nebraska at the time of application
  • U.S. national, citizen, permanent resident or legal alien

How To Apply for Medicaid in Nebraska

Seniors in Nebraska have plenty of options when applying for Medicaid. For those with dependable internet service, the most straightforward option is to apply online. Applicants simply visit the ACCESSNebraska homepage through The Department of Health and Human Services and click on either the English or Spanish language button in the center of the screen, then choose the Healthcare/Medicaid Application box, read about the steps involved in the Application Process and click Continue. Follow the instructions to progress through the application and submit when prompted. 

Another way to apply for Medicaid services is by calling one of the following numbers below between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Seniors can either complete the application on the phone or request a paper application be mailed to them.

Toll-free: (855) 632-7633

In Omaha: (402) 595-1178

In Lincoln: (402) 473-7000

Finally, seniors who prefer to fill the application out on their own time can drop it off at their nearest DHHS office or complete the Medicaid program application at the office in person.

Information You Will Need:

  • Proof of identity: Marriage certificate, Social Security card, driver’s license or birth certificate
  • Proof of residency: Current utility bill in your name, rent receipt, pay stubs, tax returns
  • Proof of resources: Stock statements if applicable, checking account statements or other financial documents noting assets
  • Proof of income: 4-8 weeks of pay stubs, most recent income tax return, rental or lease statements

Additional Medicaid Support & Resources in Nebraska

Though applying for Medicaid is presented as a straightforward process, it can be difficult to navigate the income reporting particulars. The following chart provides a list of resources that Nebraska seniors might find useful.

Resource
Contact
Service

1-800-527-7249

Legal Aid's ElderAccessLine provides seniors 60+ with free consultations and assistance with applying for benefit services such as Medicaid and disaster relief funds. Legal professionals can also help seniors who have been terminated from federal programs or are having difficulty qualifying for Medicaid coverage. 

(855) 632-7633

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services administers the Nebraska Medicaid program in addition to a number of other economic and disability assistance programs. Seniors who need assistance filling out the Medicaid application can call the hotline and speak with a specialist. Visitors to the website can find necessary forms, apply for benefits on NebraskaAccess, search for license information and view their current plan information. 

Online

The federal website Benefits.gov provides seniors with a central location for guidance on how to apply for Medicaid, necessary documentation and links to further information. The page also has a drop-down eligibility table and access to a simple quiz that can help potential applicants quickly determine if they're eligible for the Nebraska Medical Assistance Program. 

Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Care in Nebraska?

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 Nebraska

Even seniors who are familiar with Medicare may not know all the ways this benefit program can help them live more comfortably as they travel through their twilight years. The resources in the table below can help seniors learn more about the ins and outs of the Nebraska Medicare program. 

Resource
Contact
Service

(800) 234-7119

The Nebraska State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is a Department of Insurance program provided through the Administration on Community Living in Nebraska and designed to assist seniors who need help signing up for Medicare. Nebraska SHIP provides objective advice through its toll-free hotline, allowing seniors to ask insurance questions, meet one-on-one with financial counselors and problem-solve to find the best insurance options for their personal needs.

(402) 444-6617

Volunteers Assisting Seniors (VAS) is an Omaha-based team of trained and certified volunteers who provide seniors with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their financial future. Seniors receive Homestead Exemption assistance, financial counseling services and access to educational workshops, as well as guidance with estate planning. The nonprofit organization is open Monday through Friday during regular business hours.

(800) 633-4227

Medicare.gov is the government website for the Medicare program, the source of all information on how to sign up, what will be covered and how to get the most from the program. Visitors to the website can choose to view pages in 11 different languages, and with a live chat function, there's someone available for questions 24/7.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Nursing Home Care in Nebraska

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 Nebraska

The state of Nebraska provides seniors with a variety of free and low-cost programs that can make their lives more comfortable and rewarding. The table below includes just a few of the many available resources.

Resource
Contact
Service

(844) 843-6364

The Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Nebraska is an organization that provides referral service and assistance to residents over 60, disabled residents of all ages and caregivers. It offers a search engine on-site that can help participants connect with community service programs and resources from all over the state, from diaper distribution programs to ex-offender services.

(800) 942-7830

The Nebraska Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) provides several services to seniors. It offers information on how to choose a decision-making surrogate, how to pick the right nursing home and more. An Ombudsman also provides advocacy service to seniors in nursing homes and long-term care facilities who believe they are being mistreated or denied the care they need.

(800) 262-2243

Community Action of Nebraska is a nonprofit state organization made up of nine Community Action Agencies (CAAs) located across the state. Seniors can call their local CAA office for assistance making utility payments, weatherizing their homes or arranging future transportation. Seniors can also request meal deliveries or other services they might not have access to otherwise. 

(402) 507-4899

This is a long-term care plan for individuals 55 and older who meet the nursing home level of care criteria but can also safely live in a community setting. In Nebraska, Immanuel Pathways is the only approved PACE provider, and this all-inclusive program requires applicants to live within a particular geographical service area that includes all of Douglas and Sarpy counties and portions of Washington, Saunders, Dodge and Cass counties.

(402) 444-6444

The Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging is a resource for seniors looking for information, referrals for in-home services, presenters for community groups and nursing classes, and access to dozens of other resources. It offers everything from in-home bathing assistance to a rural transportation program and everything in between.

(402) 486-8520

Tabitha Health Continuum is a nonprofit agency that has a wide sphere of influence across the state. The company owns a number of assisted living and memory care communities and provides hospice and home health care services. Tabitha also runs a Meals on Wheels program in the Lincoln area. 

COVID-19 Rules for Nursing Homes in Nebraska

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including dhhs.ne.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 Nebraska 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 Nebraska 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 Colorado Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes

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

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Nebraska

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Nebraska
Licensing Requirements 
All nursing homes in Nebraska are required to be licensed through the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department. The initial license must be obtained at least 30 days before the facility opens. The facility must renew its license on an annual basis.
Staffing Requirements 
While Nebraska doesn’t enforce specific staffing ratios in nursing homes, facilities are required to have enough qualified staff members at any given time to meet residents’ needs for assistance with personal care, daily living activities, supportive services, supervision and medical care.
Staff Training Requirements 
Nursing homes must provide initial and ongoing training by an individual who meets knowledge, education and experience qualifications. Training includes an initial orientation that outlines residents' rights, emergency procedures, job duties and responsibilities and medical emergency directives. Ongoing training varies for nursing assistants, medication aides and food service directors and must be relevant to their job duties. 
Admission Restrictions 
Nursing homes can only admit residents who have a physician’s written approval. The residents can only live in the facility for as long as it’s able to meet their needs for care, treatment and supervision.
Care Planning Requirements 
Nursing homes must develop and implement care plans for each resident to ensure that they provide the degree and quality of care needed. The care plan must include: A comprehensive, interdisciplinary assessment of the resident's needs Measurable objectives to meet the resident’s needs The services that the resident is to receive and who is to provide them Time-specific and measurable goals for the resident A personalized discharge plan A preliminary care plan must be developed within 24 hours of the resident’s admission, and a comprehensive care plan must be created within seven days of admission. It must be reviewed and revised quarterly or when the resident’s needs change.
Dietary and Nutritional Services Requirements 
Facilities are required to provide residents with three nourishing, well-balanced meals daily that meet their nutritional and special dietary needs. Menus must be developed based on the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council and accommodate the food preferences of residents. Those who refuse food must be offered substitutes that are similar in nutritive value. 
Specialized Rehabilitative Services 
All nursing homes must provide specialized rehabilitative services as ordered by a medical practitioner and outlined in the residents' care plans. These services must be designed to preserve and improve residents’ abilities to function as independently as possible. If the facility doesn’t have qualified personnel to provide these services, it’s required to contract with a third party that meets its professional standards.
Medication and Pharmaceutical Services 
Nursing homes must employ or obtain the services of a state-licensed pharmacist to provide the development, implementation and supervision of pharmaceutical services. They must abide by state guidelines pertaining to acquiring, storing, administering and disposing of prescription drugs. They're also permitted to buy nonprescription drugs in bulk.
Activities Requirements
Nursing homes are required to designate a qualified resident activities director who provides daily activities to promote residents’ physical, spiritual, social, emotional and intellectual well-being. Residents should be encouraged, but not forced, to participate in activities.
Infection Control Requirements
All facilities must maintain practices that promote a healthy environment and avoid sources and transmission of infections and communicable diseases. This includes ensuring that facilities have measures in place for recognizing and controlling infections and preventing cross-contamination. 
Medicaid Coverage 
Nursing home services in Nebraska are covered under the state’s Medicaid program for those who meet medical eligibility and income and asset requirements. Medicaid also covers nursing services for seniors who live in a private residence or a residential care community.