What Is A Nursing Home, And How Do You Pay For It?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Nursing homes are a necessary part of the aging process for many seniors. They provide a place for elderly people who can no longer live independently to receive the necessary senior care. But what are nursing homes, and how do you pay for them? In this guide, we will answer those questions and more!

What Is A Nursing Home?

A nursing home, also called a skilled nursing facility, is where people can receive around-the-clock care from skilled nursing staff. Nursing homes are usually for people who cannot be cared for at home and need more assistance than what can be provided at assisted living facilities.

Most employees are skilled nurses on staff 24 hours a day and physical, occupational, and sometimes speech therapists.

Many times people will go to nursing homes for short-term care after they have been in the hospital. This is especially common following surgery or an illness. However, many people live in a skilled nursing facility long term.

No matter how long someone resides in a nursing home, the goal is always to provide the best possible quality of life.

What Are The Benefits Of Nursing Homes?

Nursing homes provide their residents with a wide range of skilled nursing care and other services. These services include memory, physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Nursing homes also provide social and recreational activities to help residents stay engaged and connected to the outside world.

In addition, nursing homes offer a variety of amenities that can make life more comfortable for their residents, such as private rooms and bathrooms, laundry and housekeeping services, and 24-hour nursing care.

Nursing homes provide a vital service to their residents and their families, and they can be an essential part of the continuum of care for older adults.

What Qualifies A Person For A Nursing Home?

A nursing home is a long-term care facility for elderly or disabled people who cannot care for themselves or maintain independent living. Nursing homes provide various personal care services, including 24-hour medical care, assistance with activities of daily living, and rehabilitation services.

To qualify for nursing home services, an individual must be assessed as needing a higher level of long-term care than provided at home or in assisted living facilities.

Nursing home facilities are regulated by the state where they operate and must meet specific standards to be licensed. Most nursing homes are privately owned and operated, although nonprofit organizations or government-run some.

Nursing Home Pros And Cons

Nursing homes can provide valuable care and support for elderly or disabled individuals who need assistance with daily living. However, they also come with potential drawbacks. Here is a list of some of the pros and cons of nursing homes:


  • Professional care: Nursing homes employ trained medical staff, including nurses and therapists, who can provide specialized care for residents.
  • Social opportunities: Nursing homes offer opportunities for residents to socialize with others, engage in group activities, and form new friendships.
  • Structured environment: Nursing homes provide a structured routine for residents, which can help maintain their mental and physical well-being.
  • Safety and security: Nursing homes are designed to minimize the risk of falls and other accidents and are equipped with emergency call systems, making them a safer environment for seniors.
  • Nutritional support: Nursing homes provide well-balanced meals, which can help ensure residents maintain a healthy diet and receive proper nutrition.
  • Access to resources: Many nursing homes offer on-site amenities such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and recreational activities, which can enhance residents’ quality of life.


  • Cost: Nursing homes can be expensive, and not all individuals or families can afford the high costs associated with long-term care.
  • Loss of independence: Living in a nursing home may result in residents losing personal autonomy and independence.
  • Quality of care: The quality of care in nursing homes can vary, and some facilities may have insufficient staff or resources to provide optimal care for all residents.
  • Potential for abuse or neglect: While many nursing homes provide excellent care, there have been cases of abuse or neglect, which can be a significant concern for families.
  • Emotional stress: The transition to a nursing home can be emotionally challenging for the individual and their family, as it often signifies a loss of independence and a change in living arrangements.
  • Limited privacy: Nursing homes often require residents to share rooms or common spaces, which can result in a lack of privacy.

How Do You Get Someone Admitted To A Nursing Home?

One of the most difficult decisions a family can face is whether to move a loved one into assisted living facilities or skilled nursing facilities. This decision must be made quickly; knowing where to turn for help can be challenging.

  1. The first step is to contact the local Area Agency on Aging, which can provide information about nursing homes in the area.
  2. Once you have a list of potential homes, you must schedule tours and interview staff members.
  3. It is also essential to speak with current residents and their family members to understand daily life in the home.
  4. Once you have gathered all this information, you can sit down with your family and decide what is best for your loved one.

What Is The Difference Between Assisted Living And Nursing Home?

Deciding whether to move into assisted living communities or nursing facilities is problematic for many. There are several factors to consider, including cost, level of long-term care, and independence.

  • Assisted living communities are designed for seniors who need help with daily living activities but want to maintain independence. These communities typically provide personal care, including meals, transportation, and assistance with bathing, dressing, and medication management.
  • In contrast, nursing homes are designed for seniors who need more extensive medical care and supervision. This is a step up in care compared to assisted living residents. Skilled nursing facilities typically provide medical supplies, around-the-clock skilled nursing care, and physical, occupational, and speech therapy. They also offer a variety of social and recreational activities.

When deciding between an assisted living facility and a nursing home, it is essential to consider your individual needs and preferences.

How Long Does The Average Person Last In A Nursing Home?

The average length of stay in a skilled nursing facility is about 2.4 years for men and 3.7 years for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, age, health, and financial situation factors can affect how long a person remains in a nursing home.

For example, older adults are more likely to be discharged sooner than younger adults, and those in good health are more likely to be discharged sooner than those with multiple chronic health conditions.

In addition, Medicaid recipients are more likely to have a more extended stay in a home than those who pay out of pocket.

Regardless of the length of stay, skilled nursing facilities provide an essential service for those who need help with activities of daily living and health care.

Do You Have To Pay For A Nursing Home?

Total nursing home costs can be a significant financial burden for families. For example, the average cost of private rooms in the United States is over $100,000 annually. And while many families have long-term care insurance policies covering some of the costs, these policies limit the total coverage.

As a result, families who pay for nursing home care often face whether to pay for a nursing home out-of-pocket or use Medicaid coverage.


Medicaid is a federal government-funded program that covers the cost of nursing home care services for low-income seniors.

To be eligible for Medicaid, a senior must have an annual income below a certain level. In most states, Medicaid pays around $20,000 annually.

However, if a senior has assets (such as a house or savings account) above this limit, they may still qualify for Medicaid by “spending down” their assets.

For many families, paying for a nursing facility with personal funds is not an option. However, Medicaid can help to ease the financial burden. If you or your loved one are considering a nursing home, research the cost of care and the Medicaid requirements in your state.


There are several ways to pay for out-of-pocket expenses, but the most popular options are long-term care insurance and selling your life insurance policy for cash.

  • Long-term care insurance covers long-term care costs. The premiums can be expensive, but the coverage can be well worth it if needed.
  • Selling your life insurance policy for cash is another option. You can do this through a life settlement company. They will buy your policy from you for a lump sum of cash. Your amount will depend on your age, health, and your policy’s death benefit.

Before deciding how to pay for a nursing home out-of-pocket expenses, explore all your options and contact us for expert advice.


One of the biggest misconceptions about Medicare is that it will pay for all your long-term care needs. However, Medicare does not pay for long-term care, assisted living, or in-home care.

You will have to pay for them out of pocket. In addition, skilled nursing facility expenses can burden seniors and their families financially.

Fortunately, several ways to pay for long-term health care include personal funds, private insurance, Veterans benefits, Medicaid, and long-term care savings plans.

How Much Do Nursing Homes Cost A Month?

The national median nursing home costs in 2021 are $7,908 for a semi-private room and $9,034 for a private room. However, costs can vary widely depending on the location, type of facility, and level of care required.

Nursing Home Cost Calculator

How To Reduce Nursing Home Costs?

Skilled nursing facilities are expensive. So how do you expect to pay for these expenses? One of the best ways to reduce nursing home costs (tax-free) is to purchase a long-term care insurance policy, long-term care annuity, or life insurance policy. These nursing home insurance policies can provide coverage for several years of care and be used to pay for private and public facilities.

  • Long-term care insurance: You will pay ongoing monthly payments. The drawbacks are the premiums can increase, and the insurance can be a “use it or lose it” policy.
  • Long-term care annuity: This doubles or triples your investment to pay for a nursing home.
  • Life Insurance Policy: Utilize a life insurance policy’s death benefit while alive to pay for the nursing facility.

In addition, these policies often include an annual inflation rider, which will help to keep pace with the rising expensive costs. As a result, a long-term care policy can be an invaluable tool for nursing home care.

A long-term care annuity or life insurance policy reduces the costs by half or down to a third for those who pay for nursing home care.

How Do You Get Around Paying For A Nursing Home?

One of the most important decisions you will make for your elderly loved one is placing them in a home or keeping them at home. Unfortunately, skilled nursing facilities can be expensive, and not all families can afford to pay for one. There are a few ways around this, however.

  • One option is to look for a home that accepts Medicaid. Medicaid is a United States government-funded program that helps to pay for medical care for low-income individuals. If your loved one qualifies for Medicaid services, they may be able to get help with the cost of their stay.
  • Another option may also get help from charitable organizations or fundraisers. There are many organizations out there that are dedicated to helping families with these costs.

How To Protect Assets If Spouse Goes Into Nursing Home

When one spouse goes into a nursing facility, protecting the couple’s assets is vital. One way to do this is to purchase a Medicaid annuity. This annuity provides income for the spouse at home while the other spouse is in the skilled nursing facility. The Medicaid annuity can also pay for senior care expenses, such as medical bills and long-term care insurance.

Next Steps

Do your research before deciding on a skilled nursing facility, home health care, or an assisted living facility. Not only do you need to find out how much senior care will cost, but you also need to know how to pay for skilled nursing home facilities. In addition, you have several options for paying for care, including long-term care insurance and selling your life insurance policy for cash.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and we can help you explore your options to make the best decision for yourself or your loved one.

What Is A Nursing Home, And How Do You Pay For It?

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary purpose of a nursing home?

Skilled nursing facilities provide nursing home residents with a wide range of human services. In addition to nursing care and physical therapy, many nursing facilities offer memory care and other specialized medical services. The primary purpose is to provide quality care for its residents. This includes ensuring that residents receive the necessary medical care and social support. 

What is the difference between a care home and a nursing home?

When most people think of a nursing facility, they picture an institution-like facility where elderly patients are cared for around the clock by medical professionals. However, another type of care home is often mistaken for a nursing home: the board and care home. Board and care homes are also known as residential care facilities, and they provide a more home-like setting for seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living.
The residential facility does not have on-site medical staff, and the average monthly cost is lower. As a result, board and care homes are often a good option for seniors who do not require constant medical attention from registered nurses but still need some help with day-to-day tasks.

What is the monthly cost of a nursing home in Florida?

In 2021, the median cost in Florida was $8654 for a semi-private room and $9627 for a private room. These rates represent a significant increase from previous years and are likely to continue to rise as the state’s population ages.

What is the cost of nursing care in Georgia?

n 2021, the median costs of a semi-private room were $7,011 a month, while a private room will set you back $7,604. Of course, these rates can vary depending on the specific facility and the level of care required, but overall, care in Georgia is very reasonably priced.

What is the cost of a nursing home in Illinois?

Illinois’s monthly median costs vary depending on your room type. For example, in 2021, the average cost of a semi-private room was $6,266 per month, while the average cost of a private room was $7,156. However, these prices can vary depending on the location and amenities of the nursing facility.

What is the cost of nursing home care in North Carolina?

According to Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey, the median monthly costs in North Carolina are $7,483 for semi-private rooms and $8,213 for private rooms.

What is the average cost of nursing home care in Ohio?

The monthly median cost of care in Ohio is $7,300 for a semi-private room and $8,213 for a private room.

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Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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