Assisted Living in Alaska
Although Alaska isn’t your typical retirement destination, the 49th state has some surprising advantages for seniors. Along with unsurpassed natural beauty, Alaska is one of the most tax-friendly states in the nation. Residents don’t pay a state income tax, and there’s no estate tax, state sales tax or capital gains tax, which allows retirees and others on fixed incomes to retain more of their money. The state’s low population density and abundant opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors appeal to those who want to avoid the crowds and who appreciate the beauty of nature. The state’s largest hospitals are situated in the Anchorage metro area and include the Providence Alaska Medical Center and Alaska Regional Hospital.
Approximately 12.5% of Alaska’s population of slightly less than 733,000 citizens is aged 65 and over. The average cost of assisted living in Alaska is $6,830, which is higher than the national average of $4,500. This guide explores the median cost of care in Alaska and the upper Northwest, and it provides an overview of financial assistance programs and free resources.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost in Alaska?
According to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, residents of assisted living facilities in Alaska pay an average of $6,830 per month. This is substantially higher than the national average of $4,500. Alaska doesn’t share a border with any other states. Assisted living costs are higher in Washington to the south where residents pay a monthly average of $6,000. Prices fall even farther in Oregon and Idaho at $5,045 and $3,838, respectively.
The United States
The Cost of Assisted Living in Alaska’s Top Cities
Costs within the state are highest in Alaska’s second-largest city Fairbanks at $7,250, and they fall to $6,765 in the state’s largest metro area Anchorage. Assisted living costs in nearby Washington range from a low of $3,211 in Walla Walla in the southeastern corner of the state to a high of $6,750 in Washington’s largest city Seattle. In the Washington community closest to Alaska, Bellingham, those in assisted living facilities pay a monthly average of $4,600, while their counterparts in Washington’s capital city Olympia pay $4,805.
The Cost of Assisted Living vs. Other Types of Care
Assisted living facilities in Alaska are more expensive than adult day health care, which costs an average of $1,562 per month. Homemaker services and home health aides are less expensive as well. They average $5,720 per month. However, the costs involved with staying in a nursing home skyrocket to an average of $31,512 per month for a semiprivate room, more than the cost of a year of care in some locations.
Adult day health care
Home health aide
Nursing home (semiprivate room)
Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Assisted Living in Alaska?
Medicaid does not directly cover the costs of assisted living for Alaska residents. However, a Medicaid waiver called Alaskans Living Independently (ALI) is available for qualifying recipients who need assistance paying for some of the costs of assisted living.
Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living in Alaska
ALI covers residential supported living for full-time residents of assisted living homes. Services include assistance with basic tasks of daily living, such as grooming, bathing and getting dressed, medical and nonmedical transportation, private nursing and environmental modifications.
Waiver Programs for Assisted Living in Alaska
Alaskans Living Independently
The ALI waiver is designed for those who need a nursing home level of care but who would prefer to remain living in their own communities, including assisted living facilities. However, the ALI is not an entitlement program, and because only a limited number of participants can be served, there may be a waitlist. Those on the waitlist who are in the most need of assistance are given priority.
Those wishing to apply for the waiver can call the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Senior and Disability Services at (800) 478-999 or visit their local Senior and Disability Services office at the following locations:
1835 Bragaw Street, Suite 350,
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 269-3666
240 Main Street, Suite 601,
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0680
Phone: (907) 465-3372
751 Old Richardson Hwy., Suite 100A,
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
Phone: (907) 451-5045
To be eligible for the ALI waiver, recipients must be an Alaska resident, aged 65 or over and require a nursing home level of care.
Eligibility for Medicaid in Alaska
The current income limit for single applicants for the ALI waiver in Alaska is $18,732 per year, while the asset limit for singles is $24,000 per year. In two-person households, the annual income limit is $27,744, and the asset limit is $36,000. These limits are the same whether one or both people in two-person households are applying.
2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Alaska
|Income Limits *||Asset Limits*|
(Only one person applying)
(Both people applying)
Applying for Medicaid in Alaska
Residents of Alaska can apply for Medicaid in several different ways. The most convenient way for most is to apply online through the federally facilitated marketplace. My.Alaska.gov also serves as an online portal for Medicaid applications. Applicants can also apply by telephone by calling 800-478-7778 (TDD/Alaska Relay: 711). Paper applications can be downloaded from the Department of Health and Social Services website and mailed to or dropped off at regional Senior and Disability Services offices.
Before You Apply
Applicants are required to provide the following documentation:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency
- Proof of Alaska residency
- Earned income, such as pay stubs
- Agency letters showing funds received from Social Security, etc.
Those aged 60 and over should bring proof of medical expenses, if applicable, such as medical bills, receipts for prescriptions, Medicare cards and repayment agreements with their medical providers.
Where to Go to Get Help
The following resources are available to Alaska residents who need assistance with various aspects of Medicaid.
|Recipient Helpline||(800) 780-9972||Medicaid applicants and current recipients can access assistance through the Recipient Helpline. Staff can also be reached by email at [email protected].|
|Medicaid Fraud Hotline||(888) 742-7248||Those who suspect Medicaid fraud or abuse can contact the Medicaid fraud hotline to report it.|
|Fair Hearing Request||(907) 269-7800||Those who have been denied Medicaid can request a fair hearing by filling out this form and mailing, emailing or faxing it to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.|
Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Assisted Living in Alaska?
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Alaska. Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities are not considered to be “clinical settings’ and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, you can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.
For more information about Medicare visit medicare.gov.
Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Alaska?
|How to Apply||How It Works|
|Aid and Attendance||Apply online at va.gov.||If you are a veteran and you receive a VA pension, you may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit. This benefit takes the form of a monthly cash allowance that you receive in addition to your standard pension. This benefit is used by veterans who need long-term care services, including care received at an assisted living facility.|
|Reverse Mortgages||Research and learn about the different types at ftc.gov||If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to access some of the equity in your home. Like traditional loans, reverse mortgages do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months, so seniors should carefully weigh this option alongside other financing methods.|
|Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance||Learn about how to receive LTC insurance benefits at acl.gov.||While those who currently need assisted living will typically not be eligible, if you purchased an LTC insurance policy in the past, you may be able to use it to help pay for assisted living. While most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, you still need to check the specific terms of your policy.|
Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Alaska
Alaska has several resources specific to senior citizens. They include a small monthly cash payment for those who meet income guidelines, free legal assistance for those over the age of 60 and a statewide senior newsletter.
|Senior and Disability Services||(800) 478-9996||As the Area Agency on Aging for Alaska, Senior Disability and Resource Services provides Alaska seniors and disabled persons with a variety of direct and indirect resources. Direct services include case management, wellness screenings and congregate meals as part of the federal Senior Nutrition Program. The agency also provides referrals to relevant local, state and federal resources.|
|Medicare Information Office||(907) 334-5954||Alaska residents can receive individual counseling and group classes to help them navigate the often complex process of enrolling in Medicare. The office also provides information about Medicare fraud and how to avoid falling for these schemes.|
|Alaska State Office of Veterans Affairs||(888) 248-3682||Those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces can receive help identifying and applying for all the service-based benefits to which they’re entitled. Veterans can also access health care services through the Alaska VA Health Care System.|
|Alaska Senior Benefits||(800) 478-7778||The Alaska Senior Benefits program provides cash assistance for Alaska residents aged 65 and over who have low to moderate incomes. The amounts vary depending on income, and limits are dependent on Alaska Federal Poverty Guidelines, which change every year. This is an income-specific program, so resources, such as savings, are not factored in.|
|Older Persons Action Group (APAG)||(907) 276-1059||The Older Persons Action Group is a membership organization dedicated to promoting independence and a good quality of life among Alaska’s seniors. Along with providing activities for seniors and their family members or professional caregivers, the organization publishes and distributes “The Senior Voice” and a statewide directory of senior resources.|
|Alaska Legal Services||(800) 478-1080||Low-income Alaskans and those aged 60 and over can access free legal services and assistance with civil matters through the Alaska Legal Services Corporation. Although seniors are typically provided with assistance regardless of income, those in economic need have priority.|
|Elder Fraud and Assistance||(907) 334-5954||This state agency investigates claims of financial exploitation involving Alaska residents aged 60 and over. Besides investigative services, the agency provides civil representation for those who are unable to navigate the claims process without assistance.|
COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Alaska
The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including dhss.alaska.gov and manuals.medicaidalaska.com. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/2/2022, 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.
Visiting Loved Ones
|Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?||Yes|
|Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?||No|
|Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?||Yes|
|Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?||Yes|
|Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Outings and Group Activities
|Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?||Yes|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||Not Available*|
|Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?||No|
|Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?||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.
Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors
|Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Safety Measures for Residents
|Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?||Yes|
|Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?||No|
|Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?||Yes|
|Are residents being tested for coronavirus?||Yes|
Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Alaska
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Health Care Services oversees licensing for assisted living facilities in Alaska. All facilities must adhere to local, state and federal laws and regulations relevant to their operations, such as those involving staffing, medication disbursement, living accommodations, food and staffing.