6 payments options for senior living

Senior couple looking at a bill on the kitchen table

Getting older brings the possibility of more health care expenses.

If you’re wondering how to pay for the care you need — or may need in the future — here are six payment options to know about:

Private pay

Private pay, also called self-pay, means you use your own resources and finances to pay for the care you receive.

Any services, housing or care you choose can be paid for by private pay.

Talk to your financial advisor, attorney or social worker to see if this is the best option for you.

Private health insurance

A private health insurance policy typically covers preventive care and deductibles toward things like prescriptions, specialized doctor visits and elective procedures.

Your individual health insurance may cover after-hospital recovery, skilled nursing care or in-home services, but usually only on a temporary and short-term basis.

Contact your health insurance provider to clarify what your policy covers.

Long-term care insurance

Long-term care insurance policies are specifically for helping you pay for services that you’ll need over a long period of time.

Unlike Medicare or private insurance policies, long-term care insurance policies may cover things like assisted living, nursing home and home care services.

Local organizations may be able to help you find resources and assistance with the care you need.


Many seniors are enrolled in Medicare, the federal government’s health insurance program.

The basic coverage — Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B — can help you pay for hospital stays, doctor visits and care and equipment that are medically necessary.

While Medicare policies may help pay for short-term care you need to recover, Medicare does not cover long-term nursing home stays, assisted living services or in-home personal care and help with daily activities (also called custodial care).

Click here to read frequently asked questions about Medicare.


Medicaid is a federal- and state-funded program that helps people with very limited income and resources pay for health and medical expenses.

Coverage and eligibility for Medicaid varies from state to state.

Most Medicaid programs will help you pay for doctor visits, health equipment, prescriptions, lab and x-ray services, and inpatient and outpatient services from a hospital or care center.

Unlike Medicare, Medicaid may also cover long-term care services like nursing home stays, assisted living services and in-home personal care if you qualify for your state’s Medicaid program.

Veterans Affairs benefits

If you’re a veteran who served active military duty, you may be eligible to receive healthcare benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Your eligibility and coverage may vary, but VA benefits typically cover preventive care, inpatient care, specialty care and emergency care.

More questions about paying for care?

Sources: eldercare.gov, longtermcare.gov, medicaid.gov, medicare.gov, va.gov

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