Aged care homes: costs explained

The Australian Government pays for the bulk of aged care in Australia, but as with all aged care services, you may be asked by your service provider to contribute to the cost of your care.
You may be wondering how much it will cost if you enter an aged care home. 
You can use our Residential Care Fee Estimator to help you estimate what costs your aged care home may ask you to pay. 
There are strong protections in place to ensure that care is affordable for everyone. The Australian Government regulates the maximum costs you may have to pay. You will never be denied the care that you need because you cannot afford to pay.

Basic daily fee

A basic daily fee is used to contribute towards your day-to-day living costs such as meals, cleaning, laundry, heating and cooling. Everyone entering an aged care home can be asked to pay this fee. 
From 20 September 2014 to 19 March 2015, the maximum basic daily fee for new residents (including respite residents) is up to $47.15 per day. This rate increases on 20 March and 20 September each year in line with changes to the Age Pension.

How is the basic daily fee rate worked out?

For new residents, the maximum basic daily fee is 85% of the single person rate of the basic Age Pension. From 20 March 2014 to 19 September 2014, the single rate of the basic Age Pension is $776.70 per fortnight, and 85% of the single rate of basic Age Pension is $660.10 per fortnight or $47.15 per day. This applies even if you are a member of a couple.
Further information on the Age Pension and a full list of current rates is available on the Department of Human Services website.
If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for assistance from the Department of Veterans' Affairs. For more information, contact Department of Veterans' Affairs on 133 254 or 1800 555 254 (for regional callers).

How will I know what rate I should pay?

When you enter an aged care home you will receive a letter from the Department of Human Services confirming your maximum basic daily fee.

Will my basic daily fee increase?

Yes. Your basic daily fee will be indexed on 20 March and 20 September each year in line with increases to the Age Pension. The Department of Human Services will let you know when the increases occur but you can also find the current rates of the basic daily fee on the Schedule of Residential Fees and Charges.

Means-tested care fee 

This is an additional contribution towards the cost of care that some people may be required to pay. The Department of Human Services will work out if you are required to pay this fee based on an assessment of your income and assets, and will advise you of the amount. 
There are annual and lifetime caps that apply to the means-tested care fee. Once these caps are reached, you cannot be asked to pay any more means-tested care fees. Any income-tested care fees you have paid in a Home Care Package prior to moving into an aged care home will also contribute to your annual and lifetime caps. 

Aged care means test assessments

Information on the governing rules of aged care means test assessments, including deemed income & exemptions, is available on the Department of Human Services website. For more information about how residential aged care can affect Centrelink payments, contact the Department of Human Services Centrelink directly on 132 300.

Accommodation payments

This is for your accommodation in the home. Some people will have their accommodation costs met in full or in part by the Australian Government, while others will need to pay the accommodation price agreed with the aged care home. The Department of Human Services will advise which applies to you based on an assessment of your income and assets.

Fees for extra or additional optional services 

Additional fees may apply if you choose a higher standard of accommodation or additional services. These vary from home to home. Your aged care provider can give you details of these services, such as hairdressing and Foxtel, and the fees that apply.
From 1 July 2014, aged care homes with dedicated extra service places are now required to publish their extra service fees on the My Aged Care website, their own website and in other relevant materials they provide to prospective residents.

Financial advice

You may want to consult with a financial adviser about your finances. There are various government services and resources that can help you obtain appropriate financial advice. It’s a good idea to do some research to see what options work best for you. 

Are there any provisions for financial hardship?

If you believe you will face financial hardship in paying your aged care costs, you can ask to be considered for financial hardship assistance

What if I entered an aged care home before 1 July 2014?

The costs for aged care homes changed on 1 July 2014. If you entered a home before 1 July 2014 you will continue to pay the costs under the old fee arrangement.