How Much Does Nursing Home Care Cost?

Living in a nursing home is not inevitable. As a matter of fact, only 2% of U.S. citizens from 65 to 84 are currently live in nursing homes, and only 14% of citizens older than that live in nursing homes (AARP).

However, a much larger percentage will require nursing home care on a short-term basis at some point in their lives. The same AARP report says 35% of people 65 and above will require at least one nursing home stay, with about half of them staying for more than a year.

The cost of nursing home care is staggering. A “short-term” stay of several months comes with a huge price tag. It is important that older people and their families be prepared for the possibility of nursing home care.

AARP puts the cost of a nursing home private room at about $75,000 a year nationwide. A study by George Washington University puts the average cost of a private room at $83,000. Sharing a room with another resident only drops the cost to about $67,000.

Sources of Funding

How do residents pay for their nursing home care?

• About a third of residents pay for the full cost of their nursing home care out of their own pockets.

• Only about 5% of nursing home residents have long-term care insurance, which can significantly lower the cost of nursing home care.

Veterans’ benefits help with the cost of nursing home care for a veteran and/or a surviving spouse.

Medicare will pay for a short-term nursing home stay up to a maximum of 100 days. (What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid? Medicare is health insurance, primarily for people 65 and older, which people pay into through their payroll withholding. Medicaid is government assistance for low-income individuals of any age).

The biggest source of nursing home funding is Medicaid. About two-thirds of nursing home residents have their costs paid by Medicaid. The George Washington University study above puts the percentage at 70%.

Medicaid only kicks in after a person has exhausted one’s own financial resources. A person may keep no more than $2,000 in cash to be eligible for Medicaid.

However, a spouse is allowed to keep one’s home, savings up to $115,920 (the cap in 2013) and income. A nursing home resident is not required to give up one’s home to go into a nursing home, but if the resident is receiving Medicaid, the government may seize the home when the resident dies.

Cost in Oklahoma

The above numbers are national statistics. Here in Oklahoma, we have one of the lowest costs of living in the nation, which translates into much lower nursing home care costs than in many other states.

According to SeniorHomes.com, the average cost of nursing home care in Oklahoma is $135 per day, which is $49,000 per year. That’s lower than the national average, but still high enough to quickly deplete many families’ assets.

Older adults should seek legal advice on how to structure their assets to minimize the impact a nursing home stay will have on a spouse or loved ones. An elder law attorney can provide consultation on such matters as annuities, trusts, special deeds and powers of attorney. If you need help with such matters, contact Hasbrook & Hasbrook for a referral to a good elder law attorney in your area.