Nursing Facility vs. Home Care

The median household income in the United States was $59,039 in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the average annual cost for a private room at nursing home exceeded $83,000.

That figure drops to $53,593 for patients living in a nursing facility through Medicaid assistance. (Medicaid provides coverage for low-income individuals with few, if any, resources such as a home.)

nursing home cost

The overwhelming majority of Americans 60 or older -- 88% according to a 2015 AARP survey -- would prefer continuing to live in their own homes as they age. In no small part, this is due to their desire to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible.

But for many older Americans' long-term care in a facility is simply cost-prohibitive. 

The annual cost for a private-pay assisted living facility is $42,600.

Less Expensive Option

Compare those figures -- $42,600 to $83,000 -- with these:

  • $18,200 - $20,800 for homemaker and adult care services
  • $24,675 for home- and community-based services

We're Not Getting Any Younger


  • An American man turning 65 today can expect to live until 84.3.

  • A woman turning 65 in the U.S. today has a life expectancy of 86.6.

  • A quarter of people who are 65 today will live past 90.

  • One in 10 will live past 95.

  • In 2014, 56 million Americans were 65 or older. By 2030, that number is expected to nearly double to 111 million.

Nursing Home

Medicare Coverage Only Covers So Much

Medicare will pay fully for nursing home care -- but only on a short-term basis (usually 20 days). 

The federal health insurance program for people 65 and over, as well as some people with disabilities, will cover a stay in a nursing home for physical and/or occupational rehabilitation. Long-term care in a nursing home isn't covered.

And Medicare will not pay for an assisted living facility. Most assisted living facilities are privately owned with costs upward of $3,500 per month.

Medicare also doesn't cover the following:

  • Homemaker Services
    While most adults want to remain in their own homes as long as possible, to do so they might need assistance with making meals, keeping their home tidy, doing laundry and performing other tasks. Medicare provides no assistance with paying for these services.

  • Home Health Aides 
    These individuals assist with personal care (i.e. bathing, dressing, taking medication).

  • Transportation to/from medical appointments

  • Routine eye, dental or hearing exams