Ministers have indicated that a cap on care costs for the elderly could be set as high as £100,000 - four times the lower limit recommended by experts.
The government is also looking at an opt-in scheme which would allow wealthier pensioners to be protected by a limit on future costs - but only if they paid into some form of insurance scheme.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said on Wednesday that no decision would be made on the level a care cap should be set at until the next spending review.
But Department of Health analysis shows the government has looked at a number of options, including a £75,000 and a £100,000 limit.
The threshold would be applied to individuals and, combined with a separate £10,000 maximum on bills for accommodation and living costs accrued by pensioners in homes, could leave couples paying out well over £200,000.
Last year a review chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot recommended setting a cap between £25,000 and £50,000 to stop pensioners being forced to sell their homes to cover sky-high bills.
Lansley said the Government was looking at the "whole range" of options and insisted Dilnot had also raised the possibility of a higher cap.
He added: "Of course, if you have a higher cap you do two things - you reduce the cost but you also increase the incentive for somebody to take out insurance or a financial services product to meet that cost.
"But it is a balance and we are going to look at the whole range and the progress report sets out a range and illustrates such caps."
It came as the Government announced plans to give state loans to pensioners moving into residential care so they do not have to sell their property immediately.
People will be able to borrow money from councils at nominal interest rates, with the sum being paid back after their death.
The scheme, being introduced across England in April 2015, is intended to help around 40,000 people each year who are forced to sell their homes to cover care costs.
Some local authorities already operate similar arrangements, but provision varies widely across the country. Ministers insisted that cash-strapped councils would be given the "necessary" support to cover the costs of the changes.
The move is part of a raft of proposals being published by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in the draft Care and Support Bill.
The three main parties have for years been seeking a consensus on tackling the huge costs of looking after the elderly, which are set to get even bigger as the population gets older.
It emerged over the weekend that cross-party talks on reform of social care for the elderly had broken down when it became clear that funding decisions would not be taken until next year's spending review.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said today that the Government had been "very keen" to show its draft proposals to Labour but the offer was refused.
The package was derided as a "sticking plaster" by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who said in a statement: "The Secretary of State says this is a watershed moment. It is not. Extending current practice on deferred payments is entirely sensible, but it is also a sticking plaster. Andrew Dilnot’s Commission gave us all hope for a new fair settlement and achieved wide-spread support – it is hugely disappointing his recommendations are not being acted upon now.
“Successive governments have failed to act. Without a sense of urgency more of us face insecurity and uncertainty as we age. The failure to address social care properly will only mean more pressure on the NHS thereby destroying all hopes of a sustainable and functioning health system in the future.”
Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said in a statement on Wednesday that it did not "go far enough." “The Social Care White Paper provides a good platform for a reformed social care system and there is much for councils to work on with government through the draft Care and Support Bill. However, without tackling the fundamental funding issue it does not go far enough. There is an immediate crisis in social care which needs to be urgently addressed now.
“We now need to see a viable way forward on how a social care system that provides much needed certainty, stability and is fit for purpose, can be properly funded. We are concerned that under the proposed timetable, elderly and disabled people, as well as carers, could face at least a further five years of uncertainty".