wikiHow to Finance Nursing Home Care

Three Methods:Reducing Costs and Using Personal AssetsQualifying for MedicaidUsing Insurance Options

As more and more Americans require nursing home care, their families are struggling to find ways to pay for, or at least reduce, the immense cost of care. In 2012, the average cost of a private room was over $90,000 a year and a semi-private room cost $81,000 a year. For most people, paying for a loved one’s nursing home care presents an almost insurmountable financial obstacle. However, there are ways to finance and reduce the cost of a nursing home so that a loved one can get the type of long-term care that they require.

Method 1
Reducing Costs and Using Personal Assets

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    Consider in-home care. Long-term nursing home care costs between $6,000 and 9,000 a month and many people cannot afford this option. To save money, you may want to consider in-home care, which costs approximately $21 an hour for a care assistant. This option is not only less expensive but it allows your elderly or disabled family member to reside in his or her home for as long as possible.[1]
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    Negotiate long-term care costs. If you are paying out-of-pocket for long-term nursing care, you should negotiate the overall cost with the nursing home. While some nursing homes may refuse to negotiate, others would prefer to take a lower private care rate because it still pays more than state-sponsored Medicaid programs. [2]
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    Relocate your loved one. The cost of nursing home care varies greatly from state to state and even from locality to locality. If your loved one has family members who live in different states, you should determine which state has the lowest cost for nursing home care. Nursing home care in Texas, Utah and Alabama can cost less than half of nursing home care in states in the Northeast.[3]
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    Qualify for a Reverse Mortgage. A reverse mortgage is a loan that a homeowner gets from a bank against the value of their home. The loan converts the home's equity into cash and the homeowner receives either a cash sum, regular payments, or a line of credit equal to the equity in the home. After the owner's death, the bank may foreclose on the home (get ownership without further liability to the home owner) or members of the estate may sell the home and pay off the loan.[4]
    • In order to qualify for a reverse mortgage, each homeowner must be at least 62 years old and live in the home where the reverse mortgage was taken.[5]
    • A reverse mortgage may be a good solution if you are in good health. You can use the proceeds from the reverse mortgage to pay for long-term care insurance or to make your home more accessible so that you can remain in the house as long as possible.
    • If you are in need of care but do not require nursing home care yet, you can use a reverse mortgage to pay for in-home caregiver services. This provides seniors with the ability to stay in their home for a fraction of the cost of a nursing home.
    • If you are a married couple and one of you need nursing home care, a reverse mortgage can pay for nursing home care and allow the healthy spouse to remain in the family home. If the spouse needing care dies, the surviving spouse can stay in the home so long as they can continue to pay for property taxes and insurance.[6]

Method 2
Qualifying for Medicaid

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    Determine whether you qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid is a state and federal government program that assists low-income individuals with a variety of medical care, including nursing home care. You can only qualify for Medicaid if you fall below the monthly income and asset limits set by your state.[7]
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    Qualify for Medicaid. If your assets are currently too high to qualify for Medicaid and you want to protect your personal assets from nursing home expenses, you can consider legally reducing your assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.
    • Before attempting to reduce or transfer your assets, you should speak with an elder law attorney. Medicaid has very strict rules about what assets can be transferred and what purchases are allowable to reduce your income. If you improperly reduce your assets, Medicaid can penalize you for months to years and prohibit your qualification for the program.[8]
    • The National Association of Elder Law Attorneys has information about elder law specialists on its website at: The American Bar Association also provides attorney referral information at:
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    Reduce your assets. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you can reduce your assets by:
    • Paying off debt, such as a mortgage, student loans or credit cards;
    • Paying for in-home medical care;
    • Paying for necessary home repairs, such as a new roof or furnace; [9]
    • Transfer funds to your spouse for his or her benefit; or
    • Transfer funds or set up a trust for your blind or disabled child or for a disabled person under the age of 65.[10]
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    Set up a Medicaid Asset Trust. With a Medicaid Asset Trust, you transfer all of your assets into a trust and give up control over those assets. Any funds placed in the trust do not count towards the Medicaid asset limits. However, if you transfer funds into the trust within 5 years of applying for Medicaid, you may be subject to Medicaid’s “lookback provision.” Under this provision, Medicaid may penalize any person that it determines conducted a non-exempt transfer under the Medicaid regulations. If you are penalized, you may not be able to qualify for Medicaid for months or even years.[11]

Method 3
Using Insurance Options

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    Purchase long-term health insurance. Unlike regular health insurance, long-term health insurance is designed to pay for long-term care, which may include nursing home care, in-home care or medical equipment. When evaluating long-term health insurance polices, you should carefully select a policy that covers nursing home care if you reasonably believe that you will not have someone to care for you at home should you fall ill and become unable to care for yourself.[12]
    • It is best to acquire long-term health insurance when you are younger and in good health. As you get older, long-term health insurance becomes much more expensive and many seniors are either unable to afford or qualify for a policy.[13]
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    Cash in your life insurance. Another way to pay for nursing home care is to cash in your whole life insurance policy. Certain policies allow policyholders to cash in their insurance policy for 50 to 75 percent of the face value of the policy.
    • Keep in mind that this is only an option for whole life policies, not term life policies where there is no cash value.
    • Depending on your individual life insurance policy, there are two ways that you can cash in your policy: accelerated benefit or life settlement.
    • If you qualify for an accelerated benefit, the insurance company will pay between 60 and 80 percent of the face value of the policy. Under certain policies, you may have to be suffering from a terminal illness in order to qualify for an accelerated benefit.
    • A life settlement is a policy payout that you negotiate with an outside company not the insurance company that issued the policy. These settlement companies look at the value of your policy, your age, and your health and pay you between 40 and 75 percent of the face value of the policy. Depending on the health and age of an individual, it may be possible to sell some term policies.
    • Before negotiating a life settlement, you should speak with an elder law attorney as there may be tax and Medicaid implications from receiving the proceeds of the policy through a settlement company. [14]
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    Check Medicare benefits. While Medicare does not pay the cost of long-term nursing home care, you may qualify for a certain portion of the stay if you were transferred to a nursing home within several days of a hospital stay and you require skilled nursing or rehabilitative care. If you go to a Medicare-approved facility, your stay may be covered for up to 100 days.
    • Medicare will also pay for in-home care for a certain period as well. This coverage may help if you are trying to reduce assets or do not physically require full nursing-home care. [15]


  • Do not try to transfer or reduce assets before speaking with an experienced elder law attorney.
  • Be wary of advisers who are not attorneys. Throughout the country, there are people and companies who exploit the elderly and their caregivers by inducements of Medicaid qualification.
  • This article is not providing legal advice and should not be relied on as legal advice.

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