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Nursing Home Costs in 2021

Average costs by state and room type

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
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A nursing home is a senior living facility that offers the highest level of care and security. Nursing homes provide 24/7 monitoring and support for older people, including keyed entries, emergency response systems and room and board. People might move into a nursing home for a short term after surgery or a long term if they're unable to live on their own safely.

Common services include custodial care (bathing and feeding), specialized medical care and housekeeping. Nursing homes may also offer entertainment and social activities like live music, movie nights and field trips. Because of all the services they provide, they also come at a high cost.

The basics

  • Nursing home costs differ by state, with Alaska having the highest average monthly cost and Texas having the lowest.
  • Nursing home costs also vary depending on the type of facility, the services available and the length of stay.
  • Nursing home care is around double the cost of at-home care or assisted living.
  • There are many ways to pay, including Medicaid, Medicare, VA benefits and long-term care insurance.

How much does a nursing home cost?

Nursing home costs generally depend on the length of the stay, the services provided and the type of facility. The table below outlines the average costs of nursing home stays in the United States.

Rate scheduleSemiprivate roomPrivate room
Per day$247$280
Per month$7,513$8,517

However, costs can also vary from state to state.

Average nursing home costs by state

Not all states have the same costs for care. Monthly nursing home costs range from about $5,000 a month in Texas to more than $30,000 a month in Alaska. This chart, put together using Genworth’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey, outlines the average cost by state for semiprivate rooms.

StateAverage daily costAverage monthly cost
Alabama$215$6,540
Alaska$1,230$37,413
Arizona$225$6,844
Arkansas$195$5,931
California$304$9,247
Colorado$280$8,517
Connecticut$425$12,927
Delaware$406$12,349
Florida$285$8,669
Georgia$221$6,722
Hawaii$395$12,015
Idaho$285$8,669
Illinois$205$6,235
Indiana$235$7,133
Iowa$216$6,570
Kansas$220$6,692
Kentucky$241$7,330
Louisiana$182$5,536
Maine$317$9,642
Maryland$335$10,190
Massachusetts$415$12,623
Michigan$295$8,973
Minnesota$363$11,026
Mississippi$232$7,057
Missouri$167$5,080
Montana$252$7,665
Nebraska$237$7,194
Nevada$305$9,262
New Hampshire$350$10,646
New Jersey$370$11,254
New Mexico$244$7,406
New York$405$12,319
North Carolina$240$7,300
North Dakota$400$12,167
Ohio$235$7,148
Oklahoma$175$5,323
Oregon$333$10,114
Pennsylvania$330$10,038
Rhode Island$285$8,669
South Carolina$240$7,298
South Dakota$231$7,011
Tennessee$233$7,072
Texas$165$5,019
Utah$210$6,388
Vermont$322$9,779
Virginia$252$7,665
Washington$315$9,581
West Virginia$374$11,376
Wisconsin$286$8,684
Wyoming$272$8,258

Cost of home care vs. nursing homes

If you’re comparing senior living options for yourself or a loved one, you have a few to choose from. Assisted living and in-home care are both alternatives to traditional nursing home facilities.

Costs for these services can range from $20 per hour to more than $8,000 per month, depending on your payment schedule.

Facility typeCost per month (average)
Nursing home$8,821
Assisted living$4,300
In-home care$4,576

In-home care costs vary based on how often you or your loved one needs assistance, ranging from a few hours a week to live-in care.

You should also factor in any specialized needs, like care related to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, which can cost an additional $1,500 each month.

How to pay for a nursing home

Nursing home stays can be expensive, but there are many different payment options for residents and their families.

Medicare

Medicare can cover a portion of short-term inpatient stays, like intensive rehabilitation, but its coverage is otherwise fairly limited. That said, Medicare can still help cover other costs while you or a loved one is in a nursing home, like medical services or hospital stays.

Medicaid

Medicaid may be an option for individuals making less than about $2,313 per month, but it depends on your state’s requirements. If someone is eligible for Medicaid support, it should cover 100% of the cost of nursing care in a nursing home.

However, Medicaid usually won’t cover medical services outside of the facility itself. Each state also sets its own “Nursing Home Level of Care” that dictates the level of care someone needs and how it affects their Medicaid eligibility. In most cases, the more help they need, the more likely they’ll be eligible for Medicaid coverage.

Payments can be complicated with Medicaid because there are deductions and income limits to keep in mind, so many people choose to work with a Medicaid planner to figure out their options.

VA benefits

Department of Veterans Affairs benefits may help cover the cost of a stay at a nursing home or another senior living facility if you’re a veteran. Using your VA benefits is a good idea because they’re more comprehensive than many other options. The VA also offers quite a few services dedicated to helping veterans figure out their options and coverage levels.

Prospective nursing home residents need to be signed up for VA health care to be eligible for coverage. VA benefits can be used to stay in non-VA nursing homes, VA-nursing homes and state veterans homes.

Long-term care insurance

Long-term care insurance provides an additional level of medical coverage that can help pay for an extended stay in a nursing home. However, you have to buy this type of coverage before you actually need it. If you wait until you require a nursing home, you will either not qualify for coverage or be charged an excessive amount. Most people choose to buy this type of coverage when they’re hitting their 50s. Because of its expense, long-term care insurance is usually better for people who make a good amount of money.

Skilled nursing is more expensive than many other senior living options.

Reverse mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a type of loan that's available to homeowners aged 62 or older. Reverse mortgages let you take out loans against the value of your home, but you need to have a good amount of equity to use this option. Borrowers can use the funds provided to pay for anything they want, including a nursing home stay.

However, a reverse mortgage has to be paid back once the homeowner dies, moves away for at least one year or sells the home. While the loan should be covered by the sale of the home, it takes away from any planned inheritance.

Private pay

You can also pay for a nursing home stay out of pocket without any type of assistance, but the expense is significant. If you have enough money, you can even pay in advance without having to worry about monthly costs.

Savings

Cashing out savings or retirement accounts helps cover nursing home costs. Just make sure you understand all of your options and what it means for your bottom line.

Before cashing out a retirement plan, check the tax implications to make sure it’s a viable option. For example, if you cash out your 401(k) before it’s matured, you will have to pay both a penalty and taxes on the account.

Life insurance

Some life insurance policies allow you to access your funds while you’re still alive in order to pay for nursing home coverage. This may be a good option if you don’t qualify for any other form of assistance. However, this is a pretty limited solution for most people because it’s hard to qualify for and it may not offer much of a return. Plus, it limits how much your family receives when you pass away.

Most people afford nursing home care by combining a few of the above options.

Bottom line: Is a nursing home the best choice?

Paying for nursing home care can be expensive and complicated. If you or your loved one qualifies for less intensive care, like an assisted living facility, that’s generally a better option. However, a nursing home is the only safe, logical option for many people. This is why it’s important to plan ahead and figure out a sustainable payment solution that benefits not only the resident requiring care but also their family.

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Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.