Listed at the top of the healthiest places to retire in America, Minnesota has a number of qualities that retirees would find attractive: health care is ranked first in the nation, with several nationally ranked hospitals and even more that are high-performing in cancer care, orthopedics and more. The cost of living is also slightly lower than the national average. Though winters are cold, Minnesota still remains a good choice for retirement.

Caring’s 2022 Senior Living Report ranks Minnesota as 5th in the nation for senior living. The state’s high marks for physicians to patients ratio, low crime rates and good air and water quality contributed to its overall ranking compared with other states, as did the cost of assisted living, which, at $3,846 per month, is slightly lower than the $4,000 national average. 

This guide for assisted living gives an overview of residential care costs across Minnesota and provides options for financial assistance to help pay for care. The regulations and laws guiding best practices in assisted living facilities are explained, and a listing of government and non-profit resources offering services and information to seniors and their caregivers is included.  

The Cost of Assisted Living in Minnesota

According to the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey, assisted living facilities charge, on average, $4,508 per month for services in Minnesota. This is on par with the national average of $4,500, and between costs in neighboring states Iowa, at $4,367, and Wisconsin, at $4,600. Seniors could save more money by moving to either North or South Dakota, where rates drop considerably, to $3,391 and $3,350 per month. 

$4508

Minnesota

$4500

The United States

$4600

Wisconsin

$4367

Iowa

$3391

North Dakota

$3350

South Dakota

Cities have differing prices for assisted living care services, with some several hundred to more than a thousand dollars less than the state or national average, and others several hundred dollars higher. In the northern part of the state, prices in Duluth are $5,000, about $500 more than the state average, while in Minneapolis rates increase further, to $5,163. The cities of St. Cloud and Rochester, in the middle and western part of the state, are below the state average, at $4,100 and $4,180 per month. And prices are cheapest in Mankato, a small city in the south-central part of the state, where assisted living expenses average $3,135 each month.  

$5000

Duluth

$4100

St. Cloud

$5163

Minneapolis

$3135

Mankato

$4180

Rochester

Several other care options exist for seniors living in Minnesota besides assisted living, and most are more expensive. Those who wish to receive care at home, but mostly need help with some daily living activities, meal prep or light housekeeping can receive home care services for $6,673 per month, more than $2,000 higher than assisted living. Seniors living at home who need more in-depth care services, such as skilled nursing, will pay even more, $6,912 per month. Adult day health care, which can offer respite care while providing services throughout the day consisting of medical care and scheduled activities, costs, on average, $2,167. Seniors needing the more intensive care provided by a nursing home will pay, on average, $11,601 per month for a bed in a shared room (semiprivate).  

$4508

Assisted Living

$6673

Home Care

$6912

Home Health Care

$2167

Adult Day Health Care

$11601

Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Minnesota?

Medicaid in Minnesota, called Medical Assistance, can cover care services delivered in an assisted living facility through the Elderly Waiver program, which also supplies care services to seniors in their homes. Not all assisted living facilities accept the Elderly Waiver, and it’s important to note that it doesn’tt cover room and board. Instead, it pays for services that might otherwise be received at home.  

What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Minnesota?

The Elderly Waiver, a program under the Medicaid umbrella can cover the costs of services delivered either in an assisted living facility or other community facilities. Coverage does not include room and board but does cover:

  • Assistance with daily living activities
  • Medication management
  • Health care from therapists and other licensed professionals

Assisted Living Waiver Programs in Minnesota

Elderly Waiver Program

For low-income seniors 65 and older who qualify for Medicaid, the Elderly Waiver Program covers the cost of services delivered in assisted living or other community homes, or in a private residence. The general services included for those opting for assisted living care include:

  • Case management
  • Companion services
  • Community living supports
  • Consumer-directed community supports
  • Medical equipment and supplies 
  • Non-medical transportation
  • Personal emergency response systems
  • Personal care assistance 
  • Skilled nursing
  • Transitional service
  • Vehicle modifications

In addition to proof of residency and of citizenship or legal immigrant status, applicants must meet specific physical and financial requirements in order to qualify for services. 

Enrollment in the Elderly Waiver Program includes the following steps:

  1. Apply through the local county long-term care consultation contact or by calling Senior LinkAge Line at (800) 333-2433.
  2. Complete a needs assessment, which should be completed within 20 calendar days from the date of request. Needs assessments are completed by either a nurse or social worker who makes an in-home visit to determine current medical needs
  3. Work with a case manager or care coordinator to develop a plan encompassing services and providers after the application is approved. 

How to Know If You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Minnesota

Medicaid eligibility is determined by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and in general, applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or have a qualifying immigrant status with a Social Security number
  • Be a Minnesota resident
  • Meet income and asset limits

Single applicants, whether from a single or two-person household, can’t earn more than $30,276 per year have an asset limit of $3,000 except for the non-applying spouse in two-person household whose asset limit is raised to $137,400. In a two-person household where both people are applying for Medicaid, the individual limits double. 

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Minnesota

Single Applicant

$30,276

$3,000

Two-Person Household

(Only One Person Applying)

$30,276

$137,400 for non-applicant and $3,000 for applicant

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$60,552

$6,000

In addition to these general eligibility requirements, applicants who qualify for Medicaid must also meet medical eligibility criteria determined via a needs visit, where a visiting nurse or social worker asks questions about an individual’s health needs, including:

  • How they take care of their activities for daily living, such as grooming, bathing or getting around
  • What concerns interfere with their ability to live as they would like
  • How and with whom they like to spend their time
  • Where and how they would like to live and participate in their community 

How to Apply for Medicaid in Minnesota

To apply for Medicaid, individuals can create an MN account and complete the online application. Individual applications can also be requested by calling 651-431-2670 or 800-657-3739, or printed, completed and returned to their local county office. Application assistance and general questions can also be asked by calling the Senior LinkAge Line at (800) 333-2433 or by contacting the local county office.    

Information You Will Need 

Before beginning the application process, individuals should make sure they have the following on hand:

  • Drivers license or other government-issued ID to prove citizenship and age
  • Mortgage or rental payments, utility bills or other documents to prove state residency 
  • Five years worth of closed and opened bank statements and all other assets, including trusts, pensions and retirement accounts
  • Five years worth of income statements
  • Social Security number
  • Current health insurance cards, including Medicare

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid

Various agencies and programs are available to help seniors in Minnesota find health coverage. Some are listed in the table below. 

Resource 

Contact 

Service 

(651) 431-2660 or (800) 657-3729

Volunteer-run, the Ombudsman for Public Managed Health Care Programs helps individuals get health coverage as well as resolve billing disputes. If seniors feel they are not getting the care they need, receiving bills they believe their health insurance should pay for, or have a problem with their health care provider that they feel they cannot solve, an ombudsman can help. Specially trained to identify issues and spot possible solutions, an ombudsman advocates on behalf of seniors by investigating complaints, helping them navigate the healthcare system and educating them regarding claims or appeals.

Varies by location

Staff at the county or tribal human services offices are trained to provide assistance completing the Medicaid application. The place where paper applications can be submitted, the local county office can also assist with questions pertaining to medical and financial eligibility requirements, document-gathering, and other details pertaining to the Medicaid application. 

(651) 539-2099 or (855) 366-7873

A Minnesota-based health insurance marketplace, MNsure lets individuals find the best option for them by comparing programs. Minnesotans can apply for financial help and identify whether they qualify for Medical Assistance (i.e. the state Medicaid plan). MNsure-certified brokers and navigators are also available locally, to provide assistance virtually, by phone or in person.

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Minnesota?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Minnesota. Assisted living facilities are considered to be a “residential setting” and not a “clinical setting,” (think nursing homes). While Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of care received in an assisted living community, it does still cover things like approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc., just like it would if you lived at home.

For more information about when Medicare can be used to pay for senior living in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in Minnesota.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Minnesota

Seniors who are not eligible (due to location, financial situation, or other factors) for other types of financial assistance, do still have some options. See the table below for an overview of some of the most common ways to make Assisted Living affordable.

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 Assisted Living.

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 Assisted Living. 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 Assisted Living. 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 Assisted Living will not typically be eligible to sign up for an LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Minnesota

A number of state government and nonprofit agencies exist to serve Minnesota’s seniors, providing advocacy, information, support and referrals to community services as well as financial and legal assistance. 

Resource 

Contact 

Service 

Varies by agency

Minnesota’s Area Agencies on Aging are a first step in identifying the most pertinent and useful local services. From finding information about state and federal financial assistance to help pay for assisted living, to local services such as transportation, congregate meals and medical supplies, AAAs are the gateway to finding long-term care resources.

(888) 546-5838

Older veterans and their dependents can receive direct benefits counseling, advocacy and information about health care services and burial benefits through the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs. Individuals and family members can also get help applying for survivor and veteran pensions. Seniors can also find out admission requirements for admission to one of the state’s five veteran's homes.

Varies by city

The Social Security offices provide information about SS benefits to seniors as well as ways in which Social Security benefits may be utilized to help pay for assisted living care costs. 

(763) 780-8309 

A free resource for seniors and caregivers, Minnesota Seniors offers information about assisted living facilities, links to state and government webpages and a comprehensive directory of healthcare services, which includes information about personal emergency response systems, transitional care and podiatry clinics.

(651) 440-9300 

Addressing issues relating to elder abuse, the Minnesota Elder Justice Center seeks to support victims, increase community education and work to change policies and elder care systems. Trained advocates listen and empathize, explain complicated systems, locate resources and create a plan of action moving forward. Limited pro bono legal representation is also available to those who have been victims of abuse related to safe housing, benefits assistance or guardianship issues. 

Online

A primary source for advocacy, information and resources, the Minnesota Board on Aging is a gateway to locating assisted living facilities, local transportation, senior nutrition programs and more.

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Minnesota

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including health.state.mn.us and cdc.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 3/15/2022, 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 Minnesota 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 Minnesota 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 Minnesota Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

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 (Conditions Apply)

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Minnesota

MINNESOTA LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements 

Before any transition to an assisted living facility or a written contract is drawn up for a resident’s admission, a registered nurse must conduct an assessment that looks at the prospective resident’s physical and mental needs. However, if distance or an urgent circumstance occurs, the assessment may be bypassed, and a telephone conference may be used as an alternative. Assisted living facilities are also required to tell applicants about Minnesota’s Department of Human Services Long Term Care Consultation, which explains all the options available besides assisted living.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements 

Minnesota has no formal admission requirements. In some cases, providers will offer assisted living services such as help with daily living activities to seniors living in residential care or group homes; however, services can be terminated at any time if the provider determines that the needs of residents cannot be met. A 30-day notice must be given in cases such as these, and the provider must also help in finding a suitable care provider.

Assisted Living Scope of Care 

The scope of care found in Minnesota’s assisted living facilities is wide and encompasses many aspects of care, including assistance with grooming, bathing and eating, access to social programs, daily meals and transportation to medical appointments. Trained staff must also be available to check on residents throughout the day. 

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy 

Medicaid policies as they pertain to assisted living are strict, based on specific income and asset limits. As of 2022, individuals must earn no more than $30,276 per calendar year and have assets valuing $3,000 or less. The state’s five-year lookback policy involves looking back at the five years leading up to any application, to see if monies were given away or sold. While certain deductions exist, most need to be done in consultation with a Medicaid Planner, to minimize the possibility of being found ineligible.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements 

While assisted living facilities can take different forms, the most common is the state-licensed facility, Adult Foster Care. Specific requirements exist regarding capacity and occupancy rates, privacy, and ease of access to all communal areas. Basic safety features, which are checked regularly, include staircase railings, proper food and medicine storage and updated emergency procedures. Other types of assisted living facilities, such as family homes, cooperatives or clinical settings must abide by the same safety regulations.

Medication Management Regulations 

Assisted living facilities are required to oversee all medication administration to residents in their care, with instructions written up by registered nurses carried out by staff on a daily, ongoing basis. Staff must have demonstrated competency in following all instructions. Additional standards for medication management differ significantly and depend upon the setting and specific medication management services.

Staffing Requirements 

Registered nursing staff are expected to be on-call at all assisted living facilities and to carry out a system that assigns specific health and medication tasks to all unlicensed staff as well as provide training as needed. In addition, residents are expected to have access to staff members 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Minnesota’s level of monitoring is considered more thorough and extensive than similar requirements in other states. While no legal mandate exists regarding staff to resident ratio, facilities must employ sufficient staff to provide around-the-clock care.

Staff Training Requirements 

Staff is required to have a comprehensive set of skills to work in assisted living facilities. They must be familiar with the facility’s emergency response, know state regulations, be able to handle complaints and know how to report suspected cases of abuse; they must have a working knowledge of ombudsman services and the Home Care Bill of Rights. Staff must also recognize when to report changes to a healthcare professional such as a registered nurse, how to maintain a hygienic environment. Daily, they are required to observe and document residents’ status and their current care services, attend to their basic bodily functions as needed. In general, they must be effective communicators and understand their patients’ physical, emotional and mental needs. Managers, who are also required in assisted living facilities, must complete 30 hours of continuing education on a biennial basis. Such continued training should include nursing or nursing home administrator credentials. Managers must also complete four hours of training in dementia care within 160 hours from the date of hire, with an additional two hours completed each calendar year.

Background Checks for Assisted Living 

All those working inside an assisted living facility, whether as a volunteer, contractor or staff, must pass a criminal background check. The discovery of any 15 different types of crimes can result in a denial or suspension of the provider’s license. A conviction of any crime beyond a minor traffic violation must be reported by any employee with direct resident access. 

Requirements for Reporting Abuse 

In order to maintain its license, an assisted living facility must report any instance of adult abuse. More information about the reporting process can be obtained by emailing Minnesota’s Department of Health, and known cases of abuse can be reported to the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center at (844) 880-1574.

Assisted Living Facilities in Minnesota (172)