Best Skilled Nursing Facilities

Find the best facility for yourself or your loved one

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Skilled nursing facilities are often the best place for someone to recover after experiencing an injury or undergoing surgery, or for someone who needs to build strength before living independently. The best skilled nursing facilities provide a higher level of medical care for a short period before returning home.

Some skilled nursing facilities are housed in nursing homes or may appear like nursing home environments, but there are key differences. These include the services offered and the ultimate goal of helping a patient get back home.

We researched more than 15 skilled nursing facilities with a nationwide footprint before selecting the best options. We took into account factors such as services offered, types of care, awards and recognitions, and states served.

Best Skilled Nursing Facilities of 2021

Best Overall : ProMedica Senior Care

ProMedica Senior Care

ProMedica Senior Care

Why We Chose It: Low hospital re-admission rates follow stays and there is a specialized call program after short-term stays.

What We Like
  • Offers a transitional call program to check in on medical needs

  • Exceeds national averages in patient ratings for skilled nursing services

  • Most patients are able to be discharged home without needing to return to a hospital

What We Don't Like
  • Facilities in 26 states

ProMedica Senior Care is a nonprofit system that offers skilled nursing facilities in 26 states. The company accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. It’s worth noting the skilled nursing facilities were formerly called HCR ManorCare before the company was bought out, but some locations retain the old name which can create some confusion.

ProMedica Senior Care advertises that its services are available for care across a variety of specialties, including cardiac, diabetes, oncology, orthopedics, pulmonary, stroke, and wound care. These are all services commonly needed after a person experiences a hospital stay.

The company advertises that its clients exceed national averages in patient ratings and reports that most patients are discharged and able to return home without needing to seek re-admission at a hospital. These are positive metrics for ProMedica’s Senior Care patients after their short-term stays.

Another reason we recommend ProMedica for short-term care is because of its transitional call program. After a short-term stay, a person is discharged and provided with “yellow flag” and “red flag” factors relating to their care that they should follow up on when returning home. The company will periodically call former patients to ensure they are healthy and keeping key medical appointments.

Although ProMedica Senior Care operates in just 26 states, its footprint is one of the larger ones we reviewed.

Best for Long-Term Care Services : Life Care Centers of America

Life Care Centers of America

Life Care Centers of America

Why We Chose It: Life Care Centers of America operates more than 200 facilities and provides a wide range of services for patients who require long-term care.

What We Like
  • Long-term care services available in more than 200 locations

  • Provides a continuum of care for higher or lower nursing needs

  • Strong rehabilitation program that includes inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation

What We Don't Like
  • Operates in 28 states

  • History of lawsuit settlement for false insurance claims

When you or a loved one needs long-term care, it’s a good idea to choose a facility that offers transitions to short-term care or a nursing home environment. This can provide an all-important continuity of care. The overall availability of services, particularly long-term care, is why we selected Life Care Centers of America as the best for long-term care.

Life Care operates more than 200 skilled nursing facilities in 28 states. Some of the features that each center offers include on-site rehabilitation, around-the-clock skilled nursing services, on-site physicians, and fine dining. Most of the company's locations are part of its “continuum-of-care” services, which means a person can access independent living and assisted living options.

In terms of services, Life Care typically offers inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, which can help after orthopedic surgery. Alzheimer’s and dementia care exists at many facilities as well.

Life Care accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance policies that may vary by location. It is worth noting in 2016, Life Care Centers of America agreed to pay $145 million to resolve a lawsuit regarding submitting false claims to Medicare and TRICARE, according to the Department of Justice.

Best for Range of Services : Good Samaritan Society

Good Samaritan Society

Good Samaritan Society

Why We Chose It: The Good Samaritan Society provides short- and long-term skilled nursing services in addition to outpatient and home-based services and caregiver support.

What We Like
  • Offers higher and lower ranges of care in addition to strong short- and long-term skilled nursing services

  • Has a Caregiver Support department, which includes respite care for caregivers

What We Don't Like
  • Only in 24 states

The chief goal for skilled nursing facilities is to help a person return to their home when they are able to. Having a facility that can provide continued services can prove valuable, as a family already has an established relationship with the providers and staff. For this reason, we chose the Good Samaritan Society as our best for range of services.

In addition to offering short- and long-term care options for skilled nursing services, the organization also offers senior living for a higher level of care as well as lower-level care options, including outpatient therapy and home-based services. The Good Samaritan Society also has a Caregiver Support department, which includes adult respite care for caregivers. In terms of inpatient rehabilitation services, it offers physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Some of the conditions the company highlights for care include balance therapy for those who experience frequent falls and post-surgery recovery rehabilitation.

The company operates facilities in 24 states.

Best for Medicare : Brookdale Senior Living

Brookdale Senior Living

Brookdale Senior Living

Why We Chose It: Brookdale has a multitude of information on its website about paying for skilled nursing services with Medicare.

What We Like
  • Specialized page explaining how Medicare can help pay for skilled nursing

  • Representatives are available at each Brookdale facility to answer Medicare-related questions

What We Don't Like
  • Operates in 42 states

  • Not all states have skilled nursing facilities

While most skilled nursing facility websites advertise they accept Medicare, few go into detail about how they will work with you to coordinate Medicare benefits. Brookdale Senior Living earned a spot on our list because it has a page on its website that discusses how to use Medicare to pay for skilled nursing services. Brookdale Senior Living has specialized representatives at its facilities who can further explain the details of Medicare coverage.

Brookdale Senior Living also accepts private insurance and can provide advice regarding assistance programs and how to help pay for skilled nursing if needed on a longer-term basis. The organization offers a number of types of care, including assisted living, memory care, and retirement communities.

Brookdale provides short- and long-term skilled nursing. Therapy services include occupational, physical, and speech therapy. Special offerings include quality dining, educational classes, social activities, and computer and Wi-Fi access. Its “Ageless Spirit” program provides ways to explore spirituality, such as meditation.

With more than 740 senior living communities, Brookdale has a large, 42-state footprint. It does not operate in Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Not all facilities offer skilled nursing services.

Best for Medicaid : The Ensign Group

The Ensign Group

The Ensign Group

Why We Chose It: A large Medicaid population utilizes The Ensign Group’s skilled nursing services.

What We Like
  • Nearly half of the group’s skilled nursing clients use Medicaid for their payment

  • In-house therapy teams provide continuity of care

What We Don't Like
  • Only in 13 states

  • May operate under different names, depending upon the state

The Ensign Group is an organization that operates 227 healthcare facilities, including skilled nursing facilities. The company’s population for skilled nursing is largely Medicaid-based, which means the organization is adept at navigating Medicaid payments and describing how to pay for care.

An estimated 47.7% of The Ensign Group’s transitional skilled services come from Medicaid payments. Another 25.8% come from Medicare payments, according to the company’s 2019 annual report. Skilled nursing facilities represent the largest part of the company's portfolio, although it does have 24 assisted living communities should a person need to transition their care level.

The group hires in-house therapy teams, which helps establish a continuity of care for residents. Services include physical, occupational, and speech and language pathology therapies.

One of the major drawbacks for The Ensign Group is that it only operates in 13 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. However, the company continues to acquire additional facilities and properties. Some centers may operate under different names after they're acquired, which can prove confusing at times.

Final Verdict

Skilled nursing facilities often provide an important transition from the hospital to home. Some only perform skilled nursing duties, while others may offer these services plus assisted living or nursing home-like care. Choosing a facility that offers a variety of care options and programs can help a person receive a continuity of care should they need more or less assistance.

Compare Providers

  Site   Why We Picked It   Key Service Lines   Number of States
ProMedica Senior Care Best Overall Cardiac, diabetes, oncology, orthopedics, pulmonary, stroke, and wound care 26 states
Life Care Centers of America Best for Long-Term Care Services Rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s, and dementia care 28 states
Good Samaritan Society Best for Range of Services Orthopedic rehabilitation and memory care 24 states
Brookdale Senior Living Best for Medicare Orthopedic rehabilitation and memory care 42 states
The Ensign Group Best for Medicaid Orthopedic and stroke rehabilitation 14 states

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility?


A skilled nursing facility is a place where a person receives care from trained and licensed medical professionals to help them treat, improve, or manage a patient's medical condition.

A person may need skilled nursing care are after undergoing an operation, such as a hip replacement, or after experiencing a stroke. Some of the services may include:

  • Medication administration
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech-language pathology
  • Wound care

A skilled nursing facility is not the same as a nursing home. The key difference is that a skilled nursing facility usually isn’t intended for a person to stay indefinitely. A person stays at a skilled nursing facility with the goal of improving their health and returning to their home or a nursing home-type environment.

Does Insurance Cover Skilled Nursing Facilities?

Health insurance policies outside of Medicare will often cover skilled nursing facilities. The extent of this coverage depends upon several factors such as:

  • Your insurance policy type
  • Whether the skilled nursing facility is in-network or out-of-network
  • The type(s) of care you require

Some people choose to purchase a separate long-term care policy that may help supplement costs for skilled nursing facility care.

Does Medicare Cover Skilled Nursing Facilities?

Medicare covers a stay in a skilled nursing facility under Medicare Part A, which pays for a hospital stay or inpatient care at a skilled nursing facility. For Medicare to cover the stay at the facility, a doctor must certify that a person needs skilled nursing care. The person must also choose a facility that is Medicare-certified.

Medicare also sets forth a certain amount of days it will pay for skilled nursing care.

What Are the Out-of-Pocket Costs Associated With Skilled Nursing Facilities?

Medicare pays for skilled nursing facility care by “benefit period.” Each time a person experiences a hospital stay and subsequent skilled nursing facility stay, Medicare will pay up to a certain number of days. The out-of-pocket costs through Medicare for a skilled nursing facility include:

  • $0 for the first 20 days’ stay in a benefit period
  • $185.50 co-insurance for days 21 through 100 of a benefit period
  • All costs after day 100

A person can have more than one benefit period in a year. However, a person must go 60 days without inpatient hospital care or skilled nursing facility care to be in a new benefit period.

What Accreditations Should I Look for When Selecting a Skilled Nursing Facility?

Accreditation means that a facility has an independent organization evaluate its facility to confirm they are providing high-quality care. There are several organizations that may award accreditation to a skilled nursing facility. These include:

• Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) aging services accreditation

• The Joint Commission, which offers a “Gold Seal of Approval” for skilled nursing facilities

If you are evaluating a skilled nursing facility, you can ask if it's accredited and which accreditation it has

The Medicare website has a section called “Nursing Home Compare” that has, among other information, reviews about skilled nursing facilities. You can evaluate facility sites by complaint information, skilled nursing facility inspection, and quality measures for the facility, which can help you choose the best facility for you or a loved one. The site also rates the facilities on a scale of 1 to 5 stars.

When Should a Skilled Nursing Facility Be Considered?

Skilled nursing facilities are beneficial when a person requires rehabilitation, ranging from physical to occupational therapy. This often occurs after a person experiences a hospital stay due to surgery, injury, or a health event such as a stroke.

The alternative to a skilled nursing facility could be in-home care. However, skilled nursing care can provide more in-depth services and around-the-clock care. Usually, a doctor can help you determine which option is needed.

How Long Can You Stay in a Skilled Nursing Facility?

A stay in a skilled nursing facility may have to do with your overall health and your insurance coverage. The skilled nursing facility and your doctor should communicate with you if you need further care. Often, insurance companies may continue to pay as long as a doctor re-certifies that the care is still needed.

How We Chose the Best Skilled Nursing Facilities

We reviewed more than 15 of the country’s largest skilled nursing facility companies in the U.S. and considered the range of services offered, insurance accepted, presence of programs designed to help residents return home, and awards and recognitions, if applicable. We also gave preference to skilled nursing facilities that operate in multiple states.

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