Oklahoma can be a good retirement destination as it’s one of the country’s more affordable states. According to U.S. News, Oklahoma ranks fourth overall in affordability. Oklahoma City was also ranked as the best place for military retirees. Out of Oklahoma’s population of 3,956,971, over 635,000 are 65 and older. According to an Oklahoma State Plan on Aging report, by 2030, the older Oklahoman population is expected to increase by 27.6%. The number of Oklahoman adults over 60 with disabilities is also rising due to a longer life expectancy. These trends may cause challenges for Oklahoma’s health and aging network.

Oklahoma has over 200 nursing homes with 26,993 licensed beds. Approximately 17,213 seniors reside in nursing facilities. Nursing homes provide around the clock skilled nursing care for individuals who need a higher level of supervision. In Oklahoma, a semiprivate room in a nursing home costs an average of $5,323 per month, and a private room averages $5,779, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2020

This guide dives into nursing home care costs in Oklahoma, the state Medicaid program, helpful resources for seniors and nursing home rules and regulations. 

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Oklahoma

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2020, Oklahoma’s average cost for a semiprivate room in a nursing home is $5,323 per month, over $2,000 less than the national average of $7,756. Nursing home costs in Kansas, Texas and Arkansas are also lower than the national figures. In Texas, the average nursing home costs are over $300 cheaper than in Oklahoma. However, both Arkansas and Kansas have more expensive nursing home costs than Oklahoma, at $5,931 and $6,692.

$5323

Oklahoma

$7756

The United States

$5019

Texas

$5931

Arkansas

$6692

Kansas

The state capital of Oklahoma City has the least expensive nursing home option in Oklahoma, averaging $5,247 per month. This cost is also lower than both the state and national averages. Seniors in Tulsa, the second-largest city in the state, pay an average of $76 more than those in Oklahoma City. Meanwhile, Enid and Lawton seniors pay the most for nursing home care in Oklahoma, at $5,597 per month. In the Texas city of Wichita Falls, near the border with Oklahoma, seniors can expect to pay significantly less than Oklahoma City residents, with a savings of more than $700 per month. 

$5247

Oklahoma City

$5323

Tulsa

$5597

Enid

$5597

Lawton

$4502

Wichita Falls, TX

Nursing homes are the most expensive care option in Oklahoma. A semiprivate room costs an average of $5,323 per month. In contrast, seniors can save over $3,000 per month for adult day care compared to nursing homes. Assisted living is the second least costly option in Oklahoma, at $3,750. Some seniors may opt for in-home services, which can save them between $700 and $900 per month compared to nursing home care.

$1517

Adult Day Care

$3750

Assisted Living

$4385

Home Care

$4566

Home Health Care

$5323

Nursing Home Care

Financial Assistance for Nursing Home Care in Oklahoma

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 Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s Medicaid Program

As of September 2020, 833,734 Oklahoma residents are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, called SoonerCare, can help pay for nursing home services for low-income individuals. Applicants must meet the income and medical requirements to qualify for SoonerCare. The Department of Human Services (DHS) determines eligibility and assesses an individual’s specific needs. The caseworker looks at an applicant’s age, medication condition, assets, marital status and medical concerns. Seniors approved for SoonerCare will receive a monthly individual needs allowance of $30 if they have Supplemental Security Income (SSI), $50 if they have additional income sources excluding SSI, and $90 if they’re receiving a VA reduced pension, totaling $140. 

Oklahoma also has two long-term care waivers for frail elderly individuals who would like to receive care in their home or the community to delay or prevent nursing home placement. Oklahoma currently has 298 nursing homes with over 26,000 licensed beds.

Medicaid Eligibility in Oklahoma

To be eligible for Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, seniors must reside in Oklahoma, meet citizenship guidelines, be 65 years or older, meet the financial requirements and need a skilled nursing level of care. Total assets cannot exceed $2,000 for an individual and $4,000 for spouses. Oklahoma residents who want to apply for long-term care Medicaid should complete the Request for Benefits form by calling their local DHS office to request an application or downloading a copy online. Once finished, they can mail the form or drop it off at the DHS office.

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 Oklahoma

Oklahoma has many resources for seniors and their loved ones that are free or low-cost. These programs can provide families with valuable information regarding nursing homes or delay nursing home placement by providing care at home.

ResourceContactService
Long-Term Care Ombudsman(405) 521-2281The Long-Term Care Ombudsman serves residents in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes. Ombudsmen help improve the quality of life of long-term care residents and respond to and resolve complaints. These services are available to both current and prospective residents. Individuals can contact the ombudsman office to gain feedback before choosing a nursing home. Seniors or their loved ones can contact the state ombudsman at (405) 521-2281.
Respite CareLocal AAA officeThe Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) administers two respite programs. The National Family Caregiver Support Program is for primary caregivers caring for seniors aged 60 and older who need help with at least two daily living activities or are living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Respite care providers can be anyone an individual chooses but must live outside of the care receiver’s home. There are no income restrictions for this program. To get started or learn more, individuals can contact their local AAA office.
State Plan Personal Care (SPPC)(800) 435-4711SPPC is a Medicaid program that helps individuals with daily living activities at home, such as bathing, grooming, toileting and meals. Skilled nursing services include an assessment and the creation of a care plan. Eligible applicants must be qualified for Medicaid and meet the level of care criteria. Individuals who would like to participate in this program can call the Medicaid Services Unit at (800) 435-4711 or their local DHS office.
Veterans Affairs Long-Term Care(877) 222-8387Veterans who need long-term care can receive assisted living, residential or home health care through Veterans Affairs. They can receive this care in many different settings, including their own home or a nursing facility. The program’s services include 24-7 nursing and medical care, physical therapy, help with daily tasks and support for caregivers. Qualified veterans must be signed up for VA health care and meet the care criteria. The service or care setting must also be available near them. To learn more, individuals can reach out to their VA social worker or call the toll-free hotline at (877) 222-8387.
ADvantage Services(800) 435-4711ADvantage Services is a Medicaid program available for seniors 65 and older and adults with physical disabilities. The program provides care at the recipient’s home and includes case management, home-delivered meals, specialized medical equipment and skilled nursing. To be eligible for the program, seniors must meet the financial and medical requirements. Interested seniors can call (800) 435-4711 or their local DHS office for more information.    
Senior Companion Program(918) 540-2481The Senior Companion Program pairs senior volunteers with frail elderly individuals who have difficulty with daily tasks. The volunteers provide companionship, respite care and help with grocery shopping and transportation. This program is free, open to individuals aged 60 and older and only available to Craig, Ottawa and Rogers County residents. Seniors interested in the program can call the Ottawa County Health Department at (918) 540-2481.

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Oklahoma

Licensing RequirementsAll nursing home facilities in Oklahoma must be licensed by the state. New nursing homes will receive an initial license valid for only 180 days. During this time, the facility must meet licensure requirements before it can be issued a license. Licenses expire after 12 months.
Staffing RequirementsNursing homes must have sufficient staff on duty 24 hours a day and must maintain at least the minimum direct care staff ratios required by the state. All licensed nurses must have a current license issued by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing. The facility must also have an Oklahoma-licensed medical doctor or osteopathic physician as its medical director.
Staff Training RequirementsAll staff must complete orientation and training before working without supervision. Direct care staff must complete two hours of in-service training, including fire safety, resident rights and pain recognition.
Admission RestrictionsA nursing home facility shouldn’t admit an individual if it doesn’t have the personnel or resources needed to provide adequate care for that person.
Care Planning RequirementsThe facility must complete an assessment and create a care plan for each resident. The individual care plan must reflect the resident’s needs and be developed by an interdisciplinary team. An initial care plan must be completed at the time of admission and an individualized plan must be finished within 21 days after entry.
Dietary and Nutrition Services RequirementsNursing facilities must have a registered or licensed dietician or qualified nutritionist on staff. A food service supervisor and a qualified nutritionist/dietician must develop a care plan for each resident. Facilities must also serve at least three regularly scheduled meals, with four-hour breaks in between. 
Specialized Rehabilitative ServicesNursing homes or an outside source must provide rehabilitative services to residents. These services must be ordered by the physician and provided under licensed or qualified staff. Services can include physical therapy, speech therapy and psychological therapy.
Medication and Pharmaceutical ServicesMedications must be stored in a medication room that must be locked when not in use. Facilities must have a consultant licensed pharmacist, ensure each resident’s medications are reviewed monthly and keep an accurate written record of drugs administered. 
Activities RequirementsNursing homes must have a trained activities program staff on duty and a qualified activities director. The facility must provide at least 20 hours of designated activity staff per week.
Infection ControlFacilities must have an infection control policy and procedure to provide a safe and sanitary environment. It must also follow and practice the universal precautions outlined by the Centers for Disease Control. An annual tuberculosis risk assessment must also be performed in a facility by a licensed nurse or physician.
Medicaid CoverageMedicaid can help pay the cost of nursing homes for qualified seniors. Applicants must be 65 years and older and meet the income and asset requirements. Seniors must also meet a nursing level of care as determined by the DHS.