Is Long-Term Care expensive?

It can be. Americans spend billions of dollars a year on various services. How much an individual pays depends on the type and amount of services provided, where he or she lives, whether family and friends can provide care, and which paid providers are used.

Most people don't have enough money to pay for all long-term care costs on their own, especially ongoing or expensive services like a nursing home. Often, they rely on a combination of resources to pay for care. These may include personal funds, government health insurance programs (such as Medicare and Medicaid), private health insurance plans, private financing options (such as long-term care insurance, life insurance policies, and reverse mortgages)

Contrary to what many people think, Medicare does not cover most long-term care costs. It does pay for some part-time services for people who are homebound and for short-term skilled nursing care, but it does not cover ongoing personal care at home, like help with bathing. It may cover part of the first 100 days in a nursing home.

Medicaid pays for health care services for people with limited income, and it is an important source of payment for long-term care services. Personal care, home health care, adult day care, and nursing home care are examples of the types of Medicaid-covered services used by older adults. However, Medicaid is not available to everyone.

Long-term care insurance pays for many types of long-term care. The exact coverage depends on the type of policy. Some policies cover only nursing homes. Others cover a variety of services. The cost of long-term care insurance does go up for people who are older and have health problems.