Private Rooms and Nursing Home Residents on Title 19

Many elderly Iowans enter nursing homes after living privately in their own homes or apartments. When entering a nursing home, some maintain a degree of privacy by getting their own room as long as they can pay the higher cost of a private room. After using up their savings, people must apply for Medicaid to pay for nursing home costs. Once on Medicaid, most of the time the resident must live in a shared room. 
It can be very difficult and emotionally painful when an elderly person suddenly must share space with a stranger. This is especially true if the stranger does not have the same interests or habits. Imagine how disturbing and unpleasant it might be when a person who enjoys quiet reading now must live with someone constantly watching television at a loud volume.
Iowans in nursing homes on Medicaid may have a private room if they or family members pay the extra cost. This is possible because of a change in the law in 2011.  So if your mother, father or other loved one is on Medicaid and wants to have a private room, it is an option as long as someone pays the extra cost. Important Note:  If someone decides to help with the extra cost, their payments must go directly to the nursing home and not to the resident. 
This information is from the Legal Hotline for Older Iowans. The Hotline is a project of Iowa Legal Aid and is funded in part by the U.S. Administration on Aging. The Hotline is a free, confidential service for all Iowans 60 or older with questions on many non-criminal legal matters. To reach the Legal Hotline for Older Iowans, call 1-800-992-8161.

Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans. 

To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:

  • Call 800-532-1275. 
  • Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161.
  • Apply online at

If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer”   A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.

*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice.


Last Review and Update: Apr 22, 2021
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