Over 80,000 people paying for long term care (LTC) in their homes or in residential units run out of money every year, Key Retirement Solutions (KRS) says.
KRS, which offers a care fee planning service, says one in four of the estimated 345,000 people paying for private care in fall back on the state each year when their funding runs dry.
The switch from private to government-funded care can present a dramatic reduction in service standards, the advice firm said.
KRS' survey of 1,108 people suggested only one in five could afford the £35,000 cap on individual contributions to care costs proposed by the Dilnot report.
Dean Mirfin, group director at KRS said: "Elderly people want wherever possible to remain in their own homes when they need care and they and their families want the best standard of care possible.
"That is clearly not happening when people are running out of money and the cost to local authorities at a time when budgets are squeezed is potentially more than £2bn a year.
"Careful planning at the outset cannot conjure up money but it can help people know what their options are and what they can achieve."
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