Adults requiring care and support outside of a hospital can apply for a free NHS Continuing Healthcare package – which covers a person's care and residential accommodation – but is only available to those deemed as having particularly complex or unpredictable needs following an assessment by health professionals.
NHS England figures show that, of 652 assessments completed in the NHS Tees Valley CCG area between July and September, 430 (66%) were deemed eligible.
When a person's health is rapidly deteriorating – and considered to be approaching the end of their life – they may be allowed fast-tracked CHC care.
All 335 fast-track applications were granted in the area over the three-month period, but just 95 of the 317 standard applications were.
Age UK said the CHC system is "grossly unfair" on older people and their families, with patients denied the free support facing enormous care bills which should be paid by the Government.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "This situation is grossly unfair on older people and their families, especially those with no one to speak up on their behalf.
"They can end up paying enormous care bills which should have been the responsibility of the state."
She added: "Legal battles over this can go on for years, way beyond a person's death, leaving a really a bad taste in the mouth for the families left behind."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said eligibility is assessed on a case-by-case basis.