Assisted Living in California – What You Need to Know

The Cost of Assisted Living

Second to Hawaii, California is the most expensive state to retire in according to the U.S. Census 2019 cost of living index. And finding the best assisted living facility that meets your budget and care needs in the Golden State is quite challenging.

According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey the average cost of assisted living in California in 2020 is $4,500 per month. The cost ranges from $3,175 to $5,853 per month based on where in the state the assisted living community is located.

Home care (hiring a professional health care assistant to serve in an elderly patient’s private residence) costs an average of $28/hour according to the same survey.

The Agencies Govern Assisted Living Facilities and Services

Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) in California encompass Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), RCFEs are licensed, monitored and regulated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the California Department of Social Services. The California Department of Public Health inspects properties once every five years. However, if the facility has frequent complaints or poor inspection results, it will be inspected annually.

The Rules and Regulations for RCFEs

RCFEs are governed by the California Code of Regulations Title 22, the RCFE Act which establishes additional statutory requirements in many of the same areas as Title 22. The Evaluator Manual is used for the application and enforcement of laws, policies, and procedures.

Additional rules governing Continuing Care Retirement Communities are found in the Health and Safety Code and in the Evaluator Manual for RCFEs with Continuing Care.

There are also new laws which are not yet reflected in the regulations. Although the state has not yet updated the regulations to reflect these new laws, the statutory requirements are in effect and being enforced throughout the state.

Paying for the cost of Assisted Living

With proper Medi-Cal Planning, qualified elderly residents may be eligible for Medi-Cal program, which is funded by the federal and state government. The state’s version of Medicaid is known as Medi-Cal and provides California’s eligible seniors with vital health insurance coverage and a safety net for long-term care when they have exhausted their own financial resources.

How is Medi-Cal different from Medicare? Medi-Cal is a state program while Medicare is a federal health insurance benefit. Medicare covers many healthcare expenses including in-patient and out-patient care and may provide prescription drug coverage. It does not, however, cover long-term care for the elderly care like Medi-Cal.

Learn how you can qualify for Medi-Cal – the specific eligibility rules for long-term care services like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health care services.

Downloadable PDF’s of Assisted Living Regulations

What’s next?

Refer to our Nursing Home Checklist to help you decide which assisted living community or facility is right for you or your loved one. It is also worthwhile to check on linked resources in this article for the state’s requirements on staff training, inspections, residents’ rights and more. Knowing the requirements helps you determine whether the communities you are considering are up to the state’s standards of care.

If you need expert advice on Elder Care and Medi-Cal Planning, schedule your free consultation with our legal team at Crider Law.


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Davis, CA 95616

333 University Ave, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95825

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Roseville, CA 95616

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Monterey, CA 93940

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We operate on an appointment-only basis other than our Davis office.

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