How much does a nursing home cost in California?

1 min read by Unbiased team Last updated June 28, 2024

Explore the average cost of nursing home care in California, the different types of care facilities for seniors, and ways to manage the associated expenses.

Summary 

  • California has some of the most expensive nursing home rates in the U.S.  

  • The Golden State's average cost of nursing home care is far higher than the national average. 

  • The average monthly cost of a private room in a nursing home in California is $13,628, and for a semi-private room, it is $11,748. 

  • Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor who can help you navigate the costs of long-term care. 

Is nursing home care good in California? 

Nursing home care covers various types of care options for people of all ages.  

For older adults, nursing homes offer different levels of care, including basic care, skilled nursing, and specialized care for those suffering from conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia.  

There are approximately 1230 licensed nursing homes in California, with 153 homes acknowledged on the U.S. News Best Nursing Home rating.  

What are the average costs of nursing home care in California? 

The average cost of nursing home care in California exceeds the U.S. national average by far.  

The national average monthly fee for a private room is $10,025, while a semi-private room is $8,929.  

The average nursing home cost in California per month for a private room is $13,628 and $11,748 for semi-private. Alaska has the highest average monthly rates, charging $35,622 for a private room and $19,267 for a semi-private space. 

The table below indicates averages for nursing home costs in California

AreaSemi-Private RoomPrivate Room
Madera $7,801 $7,926
Fresno $10,339 $11,624
Oxnard $10,965 $15,853
Los Angeles $10,965 $13,660
Sacramento $11,748 $18,015
Stockton $12,923 $18,798
San Jose $14,223 $15,038
Santa Rosa $14,333 $15,821
Santa Maria $15,664 $20,364

How do costs compare for different types of care in California? 

Whether you choose a private or semi-private room will affect your nursing home costs in California.  

The average price difference can be approximately 12%. If you or your loved one would benefit from companionship, opting for a semi-private room would also save you some money. 

Just as there are price differences according to room type, the level of care also affects the amount you have to pay for nursing homes.  

There are different types of nursing homes, including: 

  • Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) where residents don't require continuous care but still need some supervision and support 

  • Distinct Part/Skilled Nursing Facility (DP/SNF) operating within a hospital where residents require medical care 

  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities offer accommodation for independent adults, assisted living, and nursing care in a single location. 

  • Special treatment programs (SNF/STPs) for residents with mental health disorders 

The greater the level of care, the more residents will have to pay for nursing home care.  

How do you pay for nursing home care in California? 

Although there are several sources of payment assistance for nursing home care in California, planning for future stays in these communities is essential due to the high costs involved.  

Many individuals have to use private funds to afford their accommodation and care.  

Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) is the most common funding source for nursing home payments in the Golden State.  

General eligibility includes the following individuals: 

  • Those in ICFs or SNFs or those qualifying for community or home-based services 

  • People over 65 

  • Blind or disabled people 

  • Children under 21 

  • SSI recipients 

  • Those enrolled in the California refugee program 

  • CalWorks participants 

Medi-Cal also has income limits for people applying for nursing home care. The limit is 138% of the federal poverty level, which translates into an individual annual income of $20,783 or $28,207 per couple.  

Medicare will only pay a portion of nursing home expenses under certain circumstances, so this is not a long-term solution. A three-day minimum hospital stay must precede nursing home care. Medicare only covers nursing home stays for up to 100 days, which includes co-payments.  

Long-term care insurance can protect your finances and give you peace of mind. California has a program where the Department of Health Care Services partners with some private insurance companies to offer high-quality long-term care benefits. 

What are the tax implications of nursing home costs in California? 

Specific nursing home costs in California are tax-deductible. These include meals, lodging, and medical care.  

You may claim for yourself, your spouse, or a dependent. Expenses above 7.5% of your gross income are eligible.  

Hiring a tax professional will be your best bet for maximizing the benefits of claiming these expenses. 

What is the difference between nursing homes and assisted living facilities in California? 

Assisted living communities are suitable for seniors who are still relatively independent but need some assistance with daily tasks like eating, bathing, and dressing.  

Nursing professionals and staff are always available for these purposes. Residents might live in an apartment or room and have access to shared spaces. 

Assisted living services typically include: 

  • Housing 

  • Personal care assistance 

  • Transportation 

  • Meals and eating assistance 

  • Management and distribution of medication 

  • Mobility assistance 

  • Housekeeping and laundry 

  • Social activities  

  • Recreational spaces and activities 

Nursing homes are for those who require constant medical care.  

Residents may live in a private or shared room. Nursing home care services are similar in many ways, but they also provide the following additional services: 

  • Medication administration and monitoring 

  • 24-hour monitoring 

  • Full-time medical services where necessary 

  • Rehabilitation services  

  • Specialized therapy 

  • Hospice care 

  • Financial account management 

Due to the specialist care necessary, nursing home costs in California are far more expensive than assisted living facilities.  

The average cost of an assisted living facility in California is around $6,438. Compare that to the state average of $11,748 and $13,628 for semi-private and private rooms, respectively, in nursing homes. 

How do you choose the right nursing home or assisted living facility in California? 

Consider the following factors when choosing a senior living facility: 

  • Location: Is it close to family and your preferred healthcare providers? 

  • Reputation: Does it have good reviews or an excellent word-of-mouth reputation from people you know? 

  • Type of care: Does the facility offer the type of care the person requires? 

  • Amenities: What type of amenities are essential or deal-breakers, if any? 

  • Cost: Affordability is often the single most important factor. 

  • Safety and security: Consider staff protocols and assess what measures are in place. 

  • Appearance: Do the living areas look clean and hygienic? 

  • Ambiance: Observe the overall mood and attitudes of the staff. 

  • Staff: Are there sufficient staff members to care for the residents? 

When is the best time to plan for long-term care? 

It’s essential to start planning for your senior years as early as possible. 

Consulting a financial advisor to assist with estate planning, retirement planning, and saving for long-term care will give you and your family peace of mind.  

Involving your family in the decision-making process will also make for a smoother ride through these difficult circumstances. Planning for the future will put less stress on family finances and minimize conflict and confusion. 

Get expert financial advice 

Nursing home costs in California are expensive, so it's essential to set aside savings and plan for the possibility of needing nursing assistance in your golden years.  

Let Unbiased match you with a financial advisor who will offer expert financial advice for your retirement needs, including how you will pay for future medical expenses. 

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.