The Government is proposing a new form of care insurance, in a new Green Paper, as one option to deal with the problems of long term care.
The proposed scheme could cost between £12,000 and £20,000 per individual but in return would provide a guarantee of long-term care.
The maximum cost is less than the average £30,000 now paid by elderly people in need of care and the proposals could put an end to the elderly being forced to sell their homes to fund the care they need in later life.
Contribution options under consideration include payments being collected during a person’s working life or a lump sum being deducted from their estate after death.
The new measures could also be funded through an extension of the national insurance scheme.
Aspects of the insurance, such as means testing and whether contributions will be voluntary or compulsory, have yet to be thrashed out.
It is estimated that half of women and a third of men over 65 will need long-term care at some point.
And the number of people aged 85 and over is predicted to double over the next 20 years.
At present, there are four people earning for each one who is retired, but in 40 years that ratio will fall to just two to one.
In Scotland the provision of free personal care has proved popular, but very expensive and it is thought unlikely that ministers in England will adopt a similar policy.