What are the main costs of an aged care home? 4.2

Main costs of aged care

The four types of fees and costs are explained in detail in this section:

  • Basic daily fee
  • Means-tested care fee
  • Accommodation cost


  • Fees for additional services



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Basic Daily Fee

The basic daily fee covers day to day living costs such as meals, laundry, cleaning and utilities like power and basic telecommunications. 

The basic daily fee is set by the Department of Human Services at 85 per cent of the single Age Pension.  

Because the Age Pension is increased or ‘indexed’ twice a year to keep up with rising costs of living, the basic daily fee increases twice a year too.

The daily fee is the same for everyone, whether or not you receive the Age Pension.

remember, you can never be charged more than 85% of the single age pension for your basic daily fee at a government subsidised aged care home.

As a guide, as of 20 March 2019 - 19th September 2019, the maximum basic daily fee was:  $51.21.

Because it is tied to the Age Pension rate, this amount goes up twice a year on the following dates each year and you will be notified of the new fee each time:

  • 20th March


  • 20th September

You can see the current schedule of Fees and Charges for Residential and Home Care.

For some people, the basic daily fee will be the only fee they will need to pay.

For example, at 20 March 2019 - 19th September 2019, a single person on an annual income below $27,232.40 (or $26,712.40 for each member of a couple) and whose assets are less than $49,500 will pay only the basic daily fee at an aged care home. 

Means tested care fee

You might need to pay extra towards your day to day personal care and nursing costs, but this only applies to people who can afford it - and the amount varies according to an assessment of your income and assets.  If you chose not to have an assessment you won't receive any government subsidy towards the costs of your aged care and you will be asked to pay the full amount yourself.

The amount will vary depending on your financial situation. The Department of Human Services will work out if you have to pay this fee and if so, how much you need to pay, based on an assessment of your income and assets.  Then they will let you know.

Things to note about the means tested care fee

  • If you are part of a couple, your fee will be based on half of your combine income and assets, regardless of who earns the income or owns the assets....
  • There are annual and lifetime caps on the means-tested care fee. Once you have reached these caps, you can’t be asked to pay any more means-tested care fees.
  • At 20 March 2019 - 19th September 2019, the maximum means-tested care fee you can be asked to pay in a year is $27,532.59 and the maximum means-tested care fee you can be asked to pay in a lifetime is $66,078.27


  • If you were receiving a Home Care Package before moving to an aged care home and have been paying an income-tested care fee related to that, it counts toward to your annual and lifetime caps.o your annual and lifetime caps.

Accommodation Costs

The aged care home can charge a fee for the accommodation they provide. This covers the bricks and mortar and maintenance costs. 

The fee is set by individual aged care homes and all homes must clearly advertise their accommodation price.

The accommodation fee will vary according to factors such as local property prices, the type and size of the room and amenities provided (eg. gym, swimming pool, gardens). 

While Commonwealth subsidised aged care homes can set the price they want to charge for accommodation, if they want to charge more than $550,000 as a Refundable Accommodation Deposit or its equivalent (see How do you pay accommodation costs below), it needs to be approved by the Aged Care Pricing Commissioner.

How much do you have to pay?

You might have to pay the full price of your accommodation or the Australian Government might pay some or most of it – it depends on your finances.

Like the means tested care fee, the Department of Human Services decides this, based on their  assessment of your income and assets.

The government can subsidise your accommodation costs, to a maximum $55 per day, meaning you may need to pay part of the cost. 

You will be advised by the Department of Human Services what you will be expected to pay, which will be one of the following:


How do you pay accommodation costs?

There are three ways you can pay:

  • a lump-sum refundable accommodation deposit – known as a RAD for short
  • a regular rental-type payment called a daily accommodation payment – known as a DAP for short


  • a combination of both

You can move into an aged care home before deciding how you want to pay.  You then have 28 days to decide.  Until that point, you will make a daily accommodation payment. 


Remember :

Fees for additional services

There are extra costs depending on the choices you make.  For example, some aged care homes offer rooms that are a higher standard or larger than others and come with extras such as:

  • Cable/ satellite television
  • Phone, internet
  • Onsite hairdresser, beautician
  • Special therapies such as massage, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy
  • Facilities like a gym, pool, cinema, workshop, library etc.


  • A bigger choice of meals and inclusions such as beer, wine and spirits 

Aged care homes must clearly advertise the cost of extra services rooms.

There might also be extra 'fee for service' charges for things like dry cleaning or special outings and events.  Such charges are not regulated by the government.

When you are choosing an aged care home, you will be given choices about 'fee for service' options and the process will be agreed between you and the home.

Even if you don't choose an extra service room, you can still choose to pay for any additional extras on a fee-for-service basis. 


To understand more about the different fees and costs and how they might affect you, see 4.7-Doing the sums.