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What Are the Different Types of Nursing Home Expenses?

By C. Mitchell
Updated Feb 11, 2024
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There are three primary types of nursing home expenses: those borne by individual residents, those borne by insurance or national health care funds, and those carried by the nursing homes themselves. Expenses in the first two categories generally go towards the cost of basic living, including rent, meals, and any needed medical care. Nursing homes generally provide full room and board for residents, and often employ full-time doctors and nurses. All of this comes at a cost, which is usually billed either directly to residents and their families, or to certain insurance and long-term care plans. The costs of building upkeep, utilities, and staff salaries are a separate category of expenses handled by the property manager or nursing home owner.

Nursing home costs are rarely fixed, and can vary from place to place. There is usually a baseline cost for living expenses, but this can go up or down dramatically depending on the extra amenities and services provided. Homes with individual apartment-style living, community center activities, and sponsored care are often considered more luxurious — and accordingly more expensive — than those with more economical rooms and services. In this sense, nursing home expenses largely mirror most other living expenses. The nicer the facilities and the community, the more costly it is to live there.

Elderly people often need significantly more care than younger adults in apartments or housing communities, however, which usually factors into nursing home expenses. Homes often employ medical professionals, and many include regular medical check-ups as part and parcel of the living experience. Residents with medical conditions or in need or more attentive or specialized care must usually pay more for these services.

In some places, medical insurance will cover a portion of nursing home expenses. Insurance will typically only cover a certain range of ailments, however, and often only provides payment up to a certain amount. Most of the time, money is allotted to offset certain medical assistance, but room and general board is still up to the individual resident. Countries with nationalized health care often provide some more economical options for nursing home living, but space is often limited and benefits do not always transfer to private facilities.

More basic overhead costs, including reception staff and janitorial services, utilities, and regular building upkeep, are usually the responsibility of the nursing home itself. Many of these costs are factored into each resident’s bill, but they are not usually broken out. Nursing homes typically make a profit, but must also have money on hand to pay for things like unexpected repairs, appliance replacements, and necessary upgrades.

Expense estimation for nursing home care is often tricky to calculate. Costs typically rise each year, and as residents grow more elderly, they often need more and more services, too. Families are often advised to plan for nursing home expenses much as they would for any other financial obligation. Building a nursing home expense calculation into savings early on in life is often the best course, but even a late-in-life budget is better than nothing.

Nursing homes are sometimes willing to work with struggling families to find ways of reducing expenses. Sometimes this is as simple as paying nursing home bills on a monthly or quarterly basis rather than upfront for the year. Other times it involves referral to government agencies or charitable groups dedicated to providing care to low-income seniors.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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