Guide to Senior Living in Idaho
Idaho is a large and sparsely populated state in the Pacific Northwest. Huge tracts of open wilderness in the mountainous northern part of the state are open to hunting and fishing, with steep discounts on license fees for the active seniors who enjoy outdoor sports. Social Security income is not taxed in Idaho, though other forms of retirement income may be taxed on the state level. Almost 16% of Idaho’s 1.8 million people are aged 65 and over, which is a 14% increase from 2010. There are 144 senior living communities dotted around the state that serve the needs of this growing senior population.
The cost of senior care in Idaho is mostly affordable with both assisted living and in-home care costs coming in at below the United States average, according to the Genworth 2019 Cost of Care Survey. This guide is written to help seniors learn about the cost of senior care in Idaho, the rules and regulations governing senior living communities and free and low-cost resources that can help cover the cost.
The Cost of Senior Living in Idaho
Note: There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living.
Note: Memory care is typically provided in communities licensed as assisted living facilities, and in general, costs 20-30% more than standard assisted living services. No authoritative cost data is available for this type of care, so we estimated memory care rates by adding 25% to assisted living fees in the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey.
There are multiple long-term care options available to match the medical and personal needs of Idaho seniors. Independent living is a great choice for those in need of some assistance but want to maximize their freedom to engage in their activities and interests on their own terms. For those who need some additional care but want to retain some independence, assisted living can be a good fit. Older adults who are living with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia may be most comfortable in a memory care facility. Seniors who have medical needs that call for the highest levels of intervention would be best served with the skilled nursing services offered in a nursing home.
Senior Idahoans will find all care types are relatively affordable according to the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey. Independent living offers the greatest value due to it providing the lowest level of intervention, averaging at $2,495 per month. Assisted living is more expensive with a monthly average of $3,838 and the added services needed for memory care brings the cost up to $4,798. Since seniors in nursing homes require the greatest amount of individual care, the average amount an Idaho senior should expect to pay is around $8,517 each month.
Nursing Home Care
The Cost of Assisted Living in Idaho
Assisted living costs in Idaho, at $3,838, are lower than the national average of $4,500 per month. When compared to the surrounding states, Idaho’s affordability is only surpassed by Utah which sits at $3,500 monthly. Montana and Oregon are $600 and $1,200 more expensive, respectively. Washington is the highest in region at $6,000 on average each month.
The United States
The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Idaho
Idaho’s nursing home care costs of $8,517 are around $600 higher than the national average. Cheaper care can be found in nearby Utah, at $7,178, and Montana, at 7,574. This type of care would cost seniors almost $1,000 more per month in Washington and just over $1,800 more in Oregon.
The United States
Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Senior Living in Idaho?
Older adults who are open to placement in a nursing home are offered the greatest benefit with traditional Idaho Medicaid potentially covering the cost of these services for as long as they are needed. Seniors who have an income above the Medicaid limits may still qualify for partial coverage. Those who need a similar level of care but prefer to remain in their communities through assisted living and memory care facilities won’t receive full coverage but can opt for an Idaho Medicaid waiver to help with the cost of the services required to avoid nursing home placement.
Independent living is the exception when it comes to Medicaid coverage. Seniors who opt for independent living are capable of managing their own daily activities and generally require less medical intervention. Since Medicaid is intended to provide additional aid to those who are unable to fully assist themselves, these seniors won’t receive any benefit beyond regular Medicaid benefits available to all adults.
|Medicaid Coverage Level||Type of Medicaid Coverage||Entitlement?*|
|Assisted Living||Partial||Medicaid Waivers||No|
|Memory Care||Partial||Medicaid Waivers||No|
|Nursing Home Care||Full||Medicaid||Yes|
*Note: Entitlement programs mean that everyone who qualifies will receive coverage and be accepted into the programs. If the program is not “entitlement,” then participant caps could be in place, and there may be a waiting list.
Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living & Memory Care in Idaho
Older Idahoans who qualify can receive help from the state’s Medicaid program with the costs of assisted living and memory care. Although direct payment to facilities is not an option in Idaho, a Medicaid waiver is available that can cover the expense of the services needed to keep seniors from nursing home placement.
Home and Community Based Services Aged & Disabled Waiver
The Aged & Disabled Medicaid waiver is intended to cover the cost of services that would help seniors prevent nursing home placement when they meet the criteria for that level of care. It’s available to those who qualify through a choose to live in their homes or in a community-based facility, such as assisted living and memory care. The waiver focuses on personal care services and allows the recipient to choose their providers. These services include:
- Case management
- Homemaker services
- Personal care attendants
- Personal emergency response systems
- Non-medical transportation
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Chore assistance
- Home-delivered meals
- Respite care
- Adult day health services
- Home health aide
To be eligible for the A&D waiver, seniors must be at least 65 years old and require care that qualifies for nursing home placement. Those younger than 65 can be considered if the Social Security Administration has designated them as disabled. Seniors also must fall below the income and asset guidelines set specifically for the waiver. Income for a single applicant must be below $10,728 per year and $15,372 for couples. Assets should be below $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.
To apply for the Idaho A&D Home and Community Based Services waiver, seniors must first be approved for Medicaid by submitting an application to the Division of Welfare. Assistance can be obtained through the local DHF field office or by calling 1-877-456-1233. Applications can also be submitted online through the Idalink portal.
Medicaid’s Coverage of Nursing Home Care in Idaho
When Medicare doesn’t fully cover the cost of nursing home care, Medicaid is available to bridge the gap for qualified participants through the Idaho Medicare Medicaid Coordinated Plan. Eligibility is based on meeting the financial limits and demonstrating a need for this level of care. Depending on the results of the application, seniors may be offered the full benefit amount or could be asked to pay some portion to the nursing facility before funds are released.
Eligibility for Medicaid in Idaho
Falling within the eligibility requirements for Idaho Medicaid will determine whether seniors receive full benefits. Annual income limits for long-term care or Medicaid waiver coverage are $30,516 for individual applicants, even when living with someone else. Couples who are both filing for assistance have an annual income limit of $60,792 for Medicaid coverage. Coming in above these limits does not necessarily exclude the applicant from Medicaid, but will most likely result in seniors being responsible for a portion of their care costs.
The asset limit for individuals seeking coverage is $2,000. The exception to this is for seniors who are living with another person who is not applying. In that case, the non-applicant is allowed assets valued up to $137,400 to maintain their own living situation. If both are applying, the asset limit for Medicaid is $4,000 between the pair.
2022 Idaho Medicaid Income Limits
|Income Limits*||Asset Limits|
|Two-Person Household(Only one applicant)||$30,516 for applicant||$137,400 for non-applicant (traditional coverage) $2000 for applicant|
|Two-Person Household(Two applicants)||$60,792||$4,000|
Additional eligibility requirements for seniors applying to Medicaid include:
- Idaho residency
- U.S. citizenship or be an eligible non-citizen
- Age 65 or above, or meet disability standards through Social Security
Applying for Medicaid in Idaho
Idaho seniors have several options for submitting their Medicaid applications. The Idalink portal allows applications to be submitted online or assistance can be obtained over the phone by calling 1-877-456-1233. Those who want to submit the application in person can do so at one of the DHW offices. Paper copies of the application can also be submitted through email at [email protected], by fax at 1-866-434-8278 or by mail to the Self Reliance Programs, PO Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720.
Before You Apply
To get through the process quickly, seniors applying for Medicaid can create a smoother experience by gathering the right information before the application begins. Some of the supportive documents needed include:
- Identify verification (driver’s license, etc.)
- Household income evidence
- Household resources evidence
- Current monthly bills
- Immigration status (if applicable)
How to Get Help
Medicaid applications and coverage can be complex, but The Gem State has several resources to help aging adults navigate this system. Idaho seniors can obtain help applying for, and understanding their benefits, or they can get help if their application has been denied.
|Contact||What You Should Know|
|Idaho Department of Health and Welfare||(877) 456-1233||The Department of Health and Welfare is available to answer questions, receive applications and determine Medicaid benefits eligibility.|
|Appeals and Fair Hearings||(877) 456-1233||Seniors with rejected Medicaid applications can file an appeal to have their case reconsidered.|
|Area Agencies on Aging||Local offices||AAA representatives are available by phone or in person to assist with Medicaid questions and application completion and submission.|
Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Senior Living in Idaho?
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living, independent living, or memory care. Unlike nursing homes, these care types are not considered to be “clinical settings” and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, those who live in these communities can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.
When it comes to nursing home care, it gets much more complicated. Medicare does provide limited coverage for a qualified stay in a nursing home,but there are strict rules and requirements of which you should be aware. This benefit is available to seniors who have been hospitalized for at least three days, excluding the date of discharge.
Once you’ve met the hospitalization requirement, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility (per benefit period). While the first 20 days are covered in full, there is a daily coinsurance rate that must be paid starting on day 21. After day 100, seniors are responsible for the entire cost.
|Medicare Coverage||Medicare Coverage Duration||Coinsurance Requirement?|
|Nursing Home Care||Limited||100 Days Per Benefit Period||Yes – After 20 Days|
What Nursing Home Care Services Does Medicare Cover?
Medicare covers a number of specific services, including:
- A semiprivate room
- Skilled nursing services
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Audiologist care
- Medical supplies
- Medical social services
- Nutritional counseling
- Ambulance transportation
What Nursing Home Care Services Aren’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.
Medicare Support & Resources in Idaho
Idahoans who are eligible for Medicare don’t have to navigate the healthcare system alone. Below are resources covered individuals can turn to when they have questions about their coverage, the costs associated with Medicare, complaints of potential fraud and the private Medicare options they may have available.
|Resource||Contact||What You Should Know|
|Idaho SHIBA||(800) 247-4422||The Idaho Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) provide aid to senior Idahoans on Medicare by offering up-to-date information and assistance with obtaining the benefits for which they’re eligible. The group offers workshops, presentations and personal counseling options to ensure seniors get and understand the benefits they need.|
|Medicare.gov||(800) 633-4227||This federally provided site offers information about Medicare coverage options and applications. Seniors can find out what benefits they qualify for, seek assistance in covering Medicare costs and find supplemental health and drug plans to save in care expenses. Those who prefer to speak with someone locally can find resources in their area to direct their questions and comments.|
|Idaho Commission on Aging Senior Medicare Patrol||Find your nearest AAA office||The Senior Medicare Patrol was created to prevent, identify and submit reports of Medicare fraud. If seniors feel they have been put through inappropriate or unnecessary medical procedures, or if they believe they have been overcharged or double-billed, they can be connected with a volunteer who can offer education and counseling while taking down information on the incident.|
|BenefitsCheckUp.org||(800) 794-6559||Offered through the National Council on Aging, BenefitCheckUp keeps current with Medicare program changes to ensure seniors receive accurate information regarding their benefits. An online questionnaire can tell seniors what benefits they will likey qualify for and a comprehensive resource library is available to learn about the different available programs and their eligibility requirements. Seniors can also look up local Medicare resources to confirm program availability in their area.|
Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Senior Living in Idaho?
Depending on your unique situation, there may be other financial assistance options to partially or fully cover the cost of senior living in Idaho. Below, we cover some of the common ways that seniors can make senior living options such as assisted living or memory care more affordable.
|How to Get Started||What You Should Know|
|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 Senior Living Resources for Seniors in Idaho
Although senior care expenses can add up, Idaho is home to a variety of free programs and organizations designed to provide resources to aging residents. The table below displays resources offered across the state to senior residents from all income and care levels.
|Contact||What You Should Know|
|Idaho Long-Term Care Ombudsman||(208) 577-2855||For seniors who live in a care facility, the Idaho Long-Term Care Ombudsman is there to ensure the safety and well-being of residents. Seniors and caregivers who have concerns about potential elder abuse, neglect or exploitation are encouraged to contact their state or local Ombudsman to file a complaint. The Ombudsman will follow this up with an investigation into the matter and corrective action if necessary. Personal consultations are also offered to those considering long-term care for themselves or their loved ones. The Ombudsman is also tasked with visiting facilities to ensure compliance with Idaho regulations.|
|Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc||(208) 746-7541||Idaho Legal Aid offers free legal advice to Idahoans over the age of 60 through the Senior Legal Advice Line. This service focuses on civil legal issues by answering legal questions. Although case acceptance is limited based on available staff and funding, Idaho Legal Aid can also sometimes provide legal representation for those who request it.|
|Idaho Division of Veteran’s Services||(208) 780-1300||The Division of Veteran’s Services offers services to Idaho veterans through benefit assistance and advocacy. The organization runs several care homes, available by application to all war-time and peace-time veterans who are Idaho residents. Veterans and their families will have access to a list of dedicated resources along with educational programs.|
|LINC||(208) 336-3335 Boise(208) 733-1712 Twin Falls(208) 454-5511||Seniors with disabilities who wish to remain independent may find success by contacting LINC. The organization offers a variety of programs that provide independent living services, personal care services, loans for durable medical equipment and assistive technology, a ramp loan program and transportation for those living in the Treasure Valley.|
|Idaho Social Security Offices||(800) 772-1213||Seniors applying for, or in need of assistance with Social Security benefits can get assistance from their nearest Social Security office. The Social Security Administration handles monthly benefit payouts, whether disability or retirement, and offers information on Medicare enrollment.|
|2-1-1 Idaho CareLine||211 or (800) 926-2588||Dialing 2-1-1 in the state of Idaho brings you to the Idaho CareLine, a Department of Health and Welfare service that provides connection to a resource specialist who offers free information and referrals to those in need.|
|Idaho Department of Health and Welfare||Contact your local office||The Department of Health and Welfare in Idaho offers a variety of services to help seniors. Aging Idahoans can be referred to services such as the Fit and Fall Proof program, the Idaho Caregiver Alliance for those in need of memory care assistance, legal assistance and others.|
|AARP Foundation Tax Aide Service||Contact nearest Tax-Aide volunteer||AARP offers free tax assistance to anyone with special attention on those who are low income or over 50 years old. This service is usually available the beginning of February until tax submissions are due. Seniors can speak with volunteers about tax questions they may have and take advantage of the free preparation services offered.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Idaho Senior Living Facilities
The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including coronavirus.idaho.gov and cdc.gov/coronavirus. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/7/2022, 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?||Not Available*|
|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|
|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|
*NOTE: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.
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?||No (Conditions Apply)|
|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)|
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 (Conditions Apply)|
|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 (Conditions Apply)|
Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Idaho
Note: All these rules typically apply to non-clinical senior living facilities, such as independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities. Nursing homes and other senior living facilities with a clinical setting may have additional or slightly different requirements and regulations.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare regulates senior living communities in the state. The department handles the licensing of facilities, regulates the level of care that may be provided by each type of senior community and conducts inspections to ensure compliance with state rules.
Idaho’s Residential Care and Assisted Living Act does not set specific requirements for admissions to senior living facilities. The law does require that no facility admit a resident unless it is able to meet all of that resident’s medical and care needs. These needs must be identified with a preadmission health screening by a licensed physician to assess prospective residents’ mental and physical health, and develop a detailed plan of care for each resident.
Senior living facilities in Idaho are required to provide new residents, or their designated decision makers, with a copy of resident rights and responsibilities. Required documents include a written price estimate that itemizes likely costs and includes Medicare coverage, if applicable. The Department of Health and Welfare provides a standard form for these disclosures, which must be kept in the residents’ file.
Memory Care Regulation
Senior living communities with a special care license are allowed to admit residents who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, provided the facility is able to meet the resident’s specific needs as established by the preadmission medical screening. Special care units may be separate structures on the senior living facility’s property, or they can be designated hallways or floors inside of the facility’s main building. Special care units must be secured with window and door locks to prevent wandering and other disruptive behavior, and have enough staff on duty 24 hours a day to maintain an adequate level of supervision for all residents.
Seniors in Idaho’s senior living facilities may keep and self-administer over the counter vitamin supplements and medications, provided they are safely able to do so. Prescription medications must be kept in secure storage on the property and dispensed in accordance with each resident’s care plan. Controlled medications must be kept in and dispensed from a premeasured and sealed package by certified medication aides or nursing staff. Medications administered via an IV line may not be administered by noncertified caregivers, although hospice patients may have such a line placed by a visiting nurse.
Senior living facilities in Idaho must have an administrator who is at least 21 years old and licensed by the Bureau of Occupational Licensing. A single administrator may act as manager for more than one residential care facility only with approval of a plan of operation submitted to the state.
Administrators and staff at senior living facilities in Idaho must receive a generally accepted level of training prior to the onset of hands-on work with residents, though state law does not prescribe specific coursework or hours in training. Idaho does not impose a requirement for annual retraining or recertification, although administrators must be continuously licensed for as long as they are employed. All employees who have personal contact with residents must pass through an orientation that goes over basics of resident care, relevant state laws and the policies and procedures of the facility doing the hiring.
State law does not impose a minimum staff ratio for senior living facilities, although there is a general requirement that all such facilities maintain adequate staff to cover all resident needs. This includes sufficient staff numbers to quickly evacuate the entire facility in the event of a fire or other emergency.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does assisted living cost in Idaho?
Assisted living in Idaho costs an average of $3,728 a month. This is more than $300 under the national average cost for assisted living of $4,051 a month.
Does Idaho Medicaid pay for assisted living?
Medicaid provides basic health insurance coverage for Idaho residents with limited income and assets. It does not directly pay for the board and care costs associated with assisted living, although seniors may be able to pay for many of their secondary care costs through the program. Some seniors enrolled in Medicaid may be eligible for the Aged and Disabled waiver, which can help pay for supportive services provided in assisted living communities.
Does Medicare pay for assisted living?
Original Medicare does not pay for nonmedical expenses, such as the monthly cost of assisted living. Medicare Advantage plans available through authorized private insurance companies in Idaho may cover some assisted living care costs. Not all MA plans offer these types of benefits, so seniors should verify the coverage of a specific plan before signing up.
What are activities of daily living?
The term activities of daily living refers to the routine self-care tasks seniors complete on a daily basis. Examples include bathing, dressing, grooming, eating and mobility. In Idaho, help with activities of daily living may be provided by an unlicensed personal caregiver in an assisted living community.
What is the difference between assisted living and nursing homes?
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities differ in the degree to which they provide medical care. Seniors in assisted living communities may receive help with basic medical needs, such as assistance with self-administering medication, but more elaborate medical care is typically not available. Nursing home staff are usually licensed to administer medication, provide nursing care and assist with rehabilitation and various therapies.
Learn More About Senior Living in Idaho
The Top Cities for Senior Living in Idaho
Learn more about the cost of senior living in the top Idaho cities. Additionally, find reviews and information about assisted living facilities and other senior living communities across the state.
- American Falls (1)
- Ammon (1)
- Blackfoot (5)
- Boise (54)
- Bonners Ferry (1)
- Buhl (2)
- Burley (5)
- Caldwell (11)
- Chubbuck (2)
- Clark Fork (1)
- Coeur D Alene (23)
- Cottonwood (1)
- Council (1)
- Eagle (6)
- Emmett (4)
- Garden City (2)
- Glenns Ferry (1)
- Gooding (2)
- Grangeville (2)
- Hailey (2)
- Hayden (3)
- Hazelton (1)
- Homedale (1)
- Idaho City (1)
- Idaho Falls (14)
- Jerome (1)
- Kamiah (1)
- Kellogg (2)
- Kimberly (2)
- Kuna (2)
- Lewiston (16)
- Mackay (1)
- Malad City (2)
- Mccall (1)
- Meridian (14)
- Montpelier (2)
- Moscow (5)
- Mountain Home (4)
- Nampa (14)
- Payette (6)
- Pinehurst (4)
- Pocatello (15)
- Post Falls (5)
- Preston (3)
- Priest River (1)
- Rathdrum (1)
- Rexburg (5)
- Rigby (2)
- Roberts (1)
- Rupert (2)
- Saint Anthony (2)
- Saint Maries (2)
- Salmon (1)
- Sandpoint (6)
- Shoshone (1)
- Silverton (2)
- Soda Springs (2)
- Spirit Lake (1)
- Star (2)
- Twin Falls (14)
- Wallace (1)
- Weiser (5)
- Wendell (1)