Understanding Cost of Living: Nursing Homes

Understanding Cost of Living: Nursing Homes

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Nursing homes can be the most expensive form of caring for the elderly, many states and organizations provide services to individuals who require nursing home level care but choose to remain living outside of nursing homes. Luckily, there are a few options when it comes to paying for nursing care. Below we’ll show you some payment options as well as a breakdown of the variety of average costs you or your loved one can expect.

Nursing Home Payment Options


It’s important to look into Medicaid to help pay for a nursing home. Many don’t realize that even if you or your loved one hasn’t qualified for Medicare in the past, it’s still possible to qualify for Medicaid to help pay for a nursing home. Medicaid, through its state affiliates, is the largest single payer for nursing home care. While estimates vary, it is safe to say that Medicaid pays at least 40% of the total nursing home costs in the United States. 

Medicaid's eligibility requirements vary depending on the age, marital status and state of residence of the applicant. In addition, they change each year. In 2016, a rule of thumb for financial eligibility is the applicant's monthly income cannot be greater than $2,199 (or annually $26,388). The value of their financial resources cannot be greater than $2,000. However, they are many exceptions to these rules. 


If you or your elder also needs rehabilitation upon their nursing home arrival, Medicare can cover some of the medical expenses. If an individual has spent at least three days in a hospital for medically necessary care, Medicare will pick up the tab for up to 100 days of convalescent care immediately following discharge, as long as the patient goes to a home that's a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility. Medicare can also help if a long-term nursing home situation looks inevitable but isn't immediately necessary.      

Long Term

There are also a variety of private insurance agencies that will provide long-term aid for you or your elder. If you're shopping for long-term care insurance, find out which types of long-term care services and facilities the different policies cover. Also, check to see if your coverage could be limited because of a pre-existing condition. Make sure you buy from a reliable company that's licensed in your state.

Nursing Home Cost Averages

  • $205 per day or $6,235 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home
  • $229 per day or $6,965 per month for a private room in a nursing home
  • $3,293 per month for care in an assisted living facility (for a one-bedroom unit)
  • $21 per hour for a home health aide
  • $67 per day for services in an adult day health care center

Factors That Can Effect Cost

  • Time of day. Home health and home care services, provided in two-to-four-hour blocks of time referred to as “visits,” are generally more expensive in the eveningon weekends, and on holidays
  • Extra charges for services provided beyond the basic room, food and housekeeping charges at facilities, although some might have “all inclusive” fees.
  • Variable rates in some community programs, such as adult day service, are provided at a per-day ratebut can be more based on extra events and activities

Note: There are still a variety of factors that come into play when deciding if and what nursing home to check into. Do as much research as you can to find the best fit for you or your senior. These estimates give a general idea of how much you or your loved one’s stay will cost, but it’s important to weigh the options.

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