One of the most common questions about long-term care is, “How much does long-term care cost?” This question doesn’t always have a clear answer because many variables affect the cost of long-term care.
LTC News works with top long-term care experts to provide accurate information. These professionals have over 20 years of experience helping individuals navigate long-term care and its associated costs.
We created this article to help you learn about long-term care, whether you’re planning for immediate care or future needs. We’ll discuss the factors that affect long-term care costs and break down the average cost of long-term care across the country.
Disclaimer: This article only discusses how much long-term care costs. We will not discuss the cost of Long-Term Care Insurance. For LTC Insurance costs, you can read our article specifically on Long-Term Care Insurance Cost.
How Much Does Long-Term Care Cost in the U.S.?
Your personal cost of long-term care will depend on your situation. There are many levels and types of care. This means long-term care doesn't have one set price tag.
We used LTC News's Cost of Care Calculator to calculate the data in the table below. This tool uses current and historical cost data from home health providers and facilities nationwide to calculate median long-term care costs.
It's important to note that the median cost isn't an average. The median is the middle value between the highest and lowest price points.
The Cost of Care Calculator is intended to be a guide. Your personal cost of long-term care may differ from estimates provided by the calculator. However, these estimates can give you a starting point for planning purposes.
Median Base Costs of Long-Term Care Services & Facilities in the U.S. in 2023
|LTC Service or Facility
|Adult Day Care
|Assisted Living Facility
|Home Health Aide
|Private Nursing Home Room
|Semi-Private Nursing Home Room
The estimates in the data table above represent the base costs. The base cost is how much long-term care costs without help from any private or public insurance.
The base cost for facilities also represents how much care costs without add-ons or specifications. If you have specialized needs, you may experience surcharges of up to $1,500 per month on top of the base cost.
This is especially true for services such as assisted living facilities. These facilities charge a flat rate and add costs according to each resident's specific needs. The cost increases or decreases during stays as needs change.
Miscellaneous Long-Term Care Costs
When considering the cost of long-term care, we may only think about the costs of facilities or services themselves. However, we should consider the costs associated with these services.
One of the highest costs is the financial burden on our families, friends, and informal caregivers. Some of these costs include:
- Transportation expenses – families may have to spend money traveling to and from their loved one's house or driving their loved one to and from appointments.
- In-home handicap modifications – families may have to help install or pay for handicap tools such as ramps or grab bars.
- Medical alert systems – some families may want to install alert systems or tools around the house to help their loved ones during emergencies.
- Help with daily living costs – family members may help their loved ones afford the cost of living by buying groceries or helping with bills.
- Loss of income – family members may have to take time off work to care for their loved ones.
- Medical supplies & equipment – caregivers may need to buy equipment to help their loved ones.
- Psychological stress toll may lead to health care or issues – for example, an informal caregiver may seek out respite care to get a break from caregiving.
As we age, many of us will need help with daily activities. Our care needs may start slowly, like struggling with driving or home maintenance. Unfortunately, these needs usually progress over time, leading to a need for long-term care.
When we need care, our loved ones usually step in to help as much as possible. However, these loved ones may not be prepared or trained to provide quality care, especially for long periods of time.
Our long-term care needs may initially cost little, but expenses can increase over time. This is especially true for relatives that live far away. Far-away family members may have to take time off work and pay for expensive travel expenses to help us with long-term care.
For many, this method is unsustainable, and the quality of care may become a concern. At some point, most long-term care recipients will need professional care at home or in a facility.
These burdens and slowly growing needs contribute to how much long-term care costs. But there are ways to balance the cost of care.
What Variables Affect The Cost of Long-Term Care?
As we mentioned earlier in this article, many variables affect how much you pay for long-term care. These include:
- Type of facility or service needed
- Level of care needed
- Where you live and receive care
Each person has a different long-term care situation. This section will explain how your needs, preferences, and situation can affect long-term care costs.
Type of Facility or Service
Long-term care costs vary depending on the service and facility. Generally, the more specialized the care, the more expensive.
The most expensive type of long-term care is nursing home care. Nursing homes cost more because they're designed for those who need more constant care or have more severe medical needs.
On the other hand, the most affordable care facility is adult day care. These facilities provide less specialized care and are only open during the day.
Some facilities offer luxurious amenities that may improve their resident's quality of life. Facilities with luxury options will cost more regardless of the type of facility. If you're looking to save money, consider facilities with fewer amenities.
Prices can also vary between different companies and facilities in your area. Some religious or non-profit organizations may offer services at a lower cost. Comparing the prices of facilities and services in your area could help you save.
Level of Care
The level of care you need will also affect the overall cost. By level of care, we mean how often you need care and how specialized your care needs are.
For example, the cost of in-home care can vary significantly depending on the level of care you need. If you need round-the-clock, in-home skilled care, you'll pay more than those who only need care for 2 to 3 hours a day, a few days a week.
Those who need skilled and custodial care will pay more than those who only need custodial care. Individuals needing hands-on assistance or round-the-clock supervision will pay more than those without those needs. We'll discuss skilled and custodial care more later in this article.
Where you live has a significant impact on your cost of care. Long-term care costs can vary by almost $30,000 a year, depending on where you live and what services you need.
Long-term care usually costs more in areas with:
- High labor costs
- Large senior populations
- Rural areas
Some areas have strict wage laws or higher minimum wages. As a result, labor costs more in these areas. Some cities and states require companies to pay more, raising care costs across that area. Areas with large elderly populations typically demand more long-term care services, which can raise the price as well.
Lastly, rural areas may have higher care costs due to the scarcity of care resources. In addition, rural areas tend to have more space between houses and facilities. The added distance can lead to higher transportation costs for facilities, workers, and care recipients.
Why Should You Learn About & Plan For The Costs of Long-Term Care?
Long-term care feels far away for most Americans. Many of us believe we live healthy lives and that our care needs won't start for decades or ever. Unfortunately, this isn't always true.
A study from Harvard claims two out of three Americans who reach age 65 will need long-term care for up to three years. And findings from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services back that up—52% of Americans age 65 will develop a serious disability requiring long-term care.
Most of these adults will only need care for less than two years, but one in seven will need more than five years of care. On average, individuals turning 65 today will spend about $138,000 on long-term care in their lifetimes, with some people spending substantially more. Despite these statistics, few individuals in their 40s plan for long-term care.
Health Insurance Doesn’t Cover The Cost of Long-Term Care
Many of us assume health insurance will cover our long-term care costs. However, health insurance has never offered comprehensive coverage for long-term care.
Most health insurance plans and Medicare only cover up to 100 days of skilled care. Skilled care may include giving medicine, checking vitals, therapy, and other common nursing tasks.
Long-term care services are partially skilled care but primarily custodial care. Custodial care involves helping with activities of daily living, such as bathing and toileting.
Health insurance, including Medicare, does not cover custodial care. In other words, your regular health insurance won't cover most of your long-term care needs.
There are only two government health insurance programs that may cover long-term care. These programs are Medicaid and the Veterans Administration. However, both programs have eligibility requirements and restrict where you can receive covered care. As a result, these options aren't viable or accessible for many people.
RELATED:How Does Long-Term Care Insurance Differ From Other Types of Insurance?
What Are The Costs of Long-Term Care?
Long-term care can be costly, depending on your situation. Several factors affect the cost of long-term care, including the location, type of services, and level of care needed.
There are also miscellaneous costs associated with help from friends and family. You can reduce the cost of long-term care for yourself and your loved ones with Long-Term Care Insurance or by planning for the cost of care.
To learn more about the cost of long-term care in your area, check out LTC News' Cost of Care Calculator. This calculator uses long-term care data from around the country to provide accurate estimates.
LTC News is here to help as you learn more about long-term care. Here are a few more FAQ articles that could help:
- How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?— Finding out how much long-term care costs can be scary. Luckily there are options to balance the cost of care, including Long-Term Care Insurance. This FAQ article will give you an estimate of Long-Term Care Insurance policy costs by age.