In 2019, Washington established a new fund to make long term care affordable and accessible.
Right now, only about seven percent of Washingtonians have private long term care insurance. Annual premiums are expensive, and you’re required to keep paying even when you’re not earning a salary. With the new WA Cares Fund we’ll all pay into the fund when we can afford it, and get access to the fund when we need it.
Beginning in January 2022, workers in Washington will contribute 58 cents per 100 dollars of earnings. Then in January 2025, everyone who qualifies will be eligible for up to $36,500 (adjusted to inflation) in long term care support.
Ben Veghte, director of WA Cares Fund for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, says the program is another pillar in inclusive healthcare.
“This program gives Washingtonians the opportunity to age with dignity and independence. Being unprotected against the risk of needing long term care affects us individually and also affects our spouse and our children,” he says. “The WA Cares Fund is a much more efficient, family friendly way to deal with this risk — we all pay a little bit over time, and have access to care when we need it.”
Washington long term care premiums
Under the WA Cares Fund you’ll only pay premiums when you’re working. Private insurance premiums are owed until the claim is made, which means you could be paying premiums for decades into your retirement. With the WA Cares Fund you won’t have to pay when you’re between jobs or once you’ve retired — as long as you’ve contributed enough, you’ll be able to count on the fund for long term care support.
With private insurance, premiums are often more expensive for women and people with pre-existing conditions. The WA Cares benefit will be more affordable than most corporate coverage — you’ll pay up to 58 cents per 100 dollars of earnings, or about $24 a month if you earn $50,000 a year.
Find answers to frequently asked questions at WALongTermCareOptions.info/faq.
Opting out, or using both
You may request an exemption from the WA Cares Fund before Dec. 31, 2022, but be aware: you can never re-enroll once you’ve opted out. If you lose your employer’s insurance or your private insurance company goes bankrupt, you won’t be able to re-enroll later. You’re welcome to add extra private insurance coverage while still enrolled in the WA Cares Fund.
“I’ve heard stories from people who faithfully paid for long term care insurance but lost coverage when they could not continue paying when premiums increased,” says Cathy McCaul with AARP Washington. “WA Cares is a reliable and affordable benefit for most working Washingtonians. It acts as a safety net for when a person needs coverage in the future.”
Learn more at WALongTermCareOptions.info.