An independent report has called for care costs for older people to be capped at £35,000.
The Commission on Funding of Care and Support - chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot - said the move would prevent circumstances where people requiring personal care are forced to sell their home to meet the costs involved.
The report's recommendations, which would cost the Government about £1.7 billion a year, would ensure that no one requiring residential care in retirement would have to spend more than 30% of their assets paying for it.
The commission also called for the means-tested assets threshold to be increased from £23,250 to £100,000.
The Government is yet to respond to the report, but Health Secretary Andrew Lansley earlier indicated its support for a cap on care costs.
Mr Dilnot said: 'The current system is confusing, unfair and unsustainable. People can't protect themselves against the risk of very high care costs and risk losing all their assets, including their house.
'This problem will only get worse if left as it is, with the most vulnerable in our society being the ones to suffer.
'Under our proposed system, everybody who gets free support from the state now will continue to do so and everybody else would be better off.'
The Dilnot Commission recommended that the cap on lifetime contributions to social care costs should be set between £25,000 and £50,000. However it went on to add that £35,000 was 'the most appropriate and fair figure'.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK, commented: 'Age UK welcomes the Dilnot Commission recommendations, which set out a clear blueprint for long term sustainable reform of social care.
'The Government now needs to act on Andrew Dilnot’s proposals and follow the Commission’s ambitious but achievable timetable of a White Paper by the spring. Delay beyond Easter would be indefensible.
'By setting a clear cap on contributions towards the cost of care, the Government would lift the fear and uncertainty for many.
'The social care system has been neglected for too long and allowed to reach the brink of collapse. The time to act boldly is now to reassure today and tomorrow’s older people.'
Copyright Press Association 2011 (updated at 12.30pm from earlier pre-announcement story)