Long term care solutions such as assisted living and skilled nursing homes can be shockingly expensive. The National Center for Assisted Living reports that the average cost of assisted living facilities in the United States is $48,000 per year, with skilled nursing homes costing twice as much.
Fortunately, increasing demand for affordable assisted living options is leading to a greater number of budget-friendly facilities. As long as you do your homework and know what to look for, it’s easier than ever to find an affordable assisted living facility to meet your needs.
In this article, we’ll provide six important tips to help you find affordable assisted living in Arizona:
- Do your research
- Ask about incentives and pricing flexibility
- Compare inclusive pricing versus a la carte costs
- Check the pricing in multiple cities
- Compare the cost of shared rooms versus private rooms
- Evaluate eligibility for government aid programs
1. Do Your Research
Due diligence is critical when you’re searching for affordable assisted living. Compile a list of reputable assisted living facilities with good ratings, then reach out to gather important information like pricing, contracts, community rules, etc.
Once you have the details, it should be pretty easy narrowing the list down to a few of your favorites that fit the budget.
When you’re down to the finalists, schedule in-person visits to tour the assisted living communities. If they offer extended visits to “test out” the community, consider dropping off the senior for a day or weekend so they can get a first-hand look at what to expect.
Moving a senior into an assisted living facility only to transfer them to another one due to a poor fit is a sure way to waste money, so it’s important to do your due diligence in order to get it right the first time. The last thing you want is to incur the added costs of breaking a housing contract and paying a transfer fee.
2. Ask about incentives and pricing flexibility
Before committing to an assisted living community, ask the director if they have any move-in specials or upgrade incentives. Whether it’s a free move-in or first month free, small incentives like these can make a big difference.
If you find an ideal community but it’s just outside of your budget, don’t be afraid to ask if the pricing is flexible. Assisted living communities are often willing to negotiate on pricing and find a low-cost solution in order to fill vacancies.
3. Compare inclusive pricing versus a la carte costs
The standard price for an assisted living facility is usually all-inclusive, covering everything from housing to meals, housekeeping, and activities. That’s great if you’ve got the personal funds to enjoy care-free resort-style living, but it inevitably means you’ll be paying for a few things that you don’t really need.
If the all-inclusive pricing is outside of your budget, ask the community director what amenities and services you can drop in order to lower the price. There may be an option to pay a lower monthly cost for the necessities, then pay as you go for add-ons like meals and activities.
4. Check the pricing in multiple cities
According to Genworth, the median cost of assisted living facilities in Arizona was $45,600 in 2018. That’s $2,400 less than the national average, indicating that assisted living facilities in Arizona are generally more affordable than other states.
Interestingly, the average cost of assisted living varies across different cities and regions in Arizona. Here’s a look at the median annual cost of assisted living in various cities across Arizona:
- Flagstaff: $61,170
- Phoenix: $46,200
- Prescott: $45,300
- Tucson: $48,525
- Yuma: $43,500
The variance in cost from city to city highlights a very helpful tip for people searching for affordable assisted living: location matters. If you’re finding that assisted living facilities near you are too expensive, try searching in another city.
5. Compare the cost of shared rooms versus private rooms
The easiest way to lower the cost of assisted living is to opt for a shared room in lieu of a private room. That’s a tough pill to swallow for some people, but it’s a great way to afford a premium assisted living community without paying the full price.
If a shared room is out of the picture, pay attention to the room size and location. You can save money by opting for less square footage, and many assisted living facilities have sub-communities with different pricing models.
6. Evaluate eligibility for government aid programs
Medicare doesn’t cover assisted living, but Medicaid can.
In Arizona, the Medicaid program is administered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). There are strict income limits to qualify in addition to spending caps, so you’ll want to check with an AHCCCS representative before planning on how much (if any) Medicaid assistance you can count on.
Veterans and their spouses may also qualify for assistance from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA doesn’t cover housing costs, but the agency offers needs-based assistance paying for the services provided in an assisted living facility.
Finally, low-income seniors age 62 and older may qualify to live in government subsidized housing under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202 program. Most qualifying facilities are operated by nonprofits, and you can apply for Section 202 housing benefits directly through the approved assisted living facility.
FAQs About Affordable Assisted Living In Arizona
Q: Does Medicare pay for assisted living in Arizona?
Medicare does not cover assisted living housing. However, assisted living residents may use their Medicare benefits to cover qualified services, such as medication management, therapy, and doctor visits.
Q: Can social security pay for assisted living?
Social security income may be used to pay for the cost of assisted living, though the program doesn’t directly cover assisted living or skilled nursing care. Some states are willing to increase monthly social security benefits for assisted living residents, though that varies from state to state.
Q: Who pays for assisted living facilities?
Generally speaking, most assisted living residents pay for their care and housing with personal assets or long term care insurance benefits. It’s only when personal assets are “spent down” that residents may qualify for government assistance programs.