Chances are you or someone you love has experienced what it’s like to be a caregiver while juggling life’s bills and responsibilities. In Washington, it’s estimated that nearly 1 million people are unpaid family caregivers.
WA Cares is a new Washington state benefit available to all workers in the state, even those near retirement, and those working only an average of 10 hours a week.
As a young working family, Dani and her husband Sam never thought they would need help. “I was partially paralyzed in a routine medical procedure. Like most families, we don’t have enough to pay for a home care aide if I ever need one. Now thanks to WA Cares, we have more options. We both put in a little from our paychecks now, and WA Cares will pay for a home care aide, when we need one. So Sam can keep working, knowing I’m well cared for at home.”
Now, all working Washingtonians will be able to tap into our WA Cares funds to stay in our own homes with help from a home care aide if we experience challenges caring for ourselves due to a disease, illness, injury or the normal setbacks that can come with age. We can even use our WA Cares funds to pay a family member to be our caregiver.
A new report has great news for more than 3 million workers in every community of the state who will soon be building up WA Cares benefits.
40 percent of us needing assistance with daily living activities are under 65.
None of us likes to think we’ll end up needing care someday. But the fact is the vast majority of us do. WA Cares will be there when the inevitable comes along and we or our loved ones need assistance with daily activities like getting dressed, managing medication, going to the doctor and making meals.
It’s also a fact that most of us simply don’t have the savings to pay for help, and we don’t want to drain what we do have in order to qualify for Medicaid. The median American savings account contains less than $5,000.
3.1 million Washington adults under the age of 65 have a pre-existing condition
57 percent of non-elderly adults have common pre-existing conditions like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, lupus, depression, sleep apnea, asthma, and more that likely disqualify them from private long-term care insurance coverage.
But WA Cares covers all workers, including those of us with pre-existing conditions.
WA Cares will provide $36,500 (which grows with inflation) to help pay for a home care aide, modifications to our home like ramps, grab bars, a walk-in shower, or medical equipment like a hospital bed.
WA Cares will keep money spent on our care in our communities.
A dollar in WA Cares spending on a home repair person, home care provider, or medical supplier generates another $1.50 in economic benefits for our communities and businesses.
The WA Cares Fund is expected to generate $3.9 million in jobs and other economic benefits in our communities.
An estimated 860,000 unpaid family caregivers provide assistance to loved ones in Washington.
Frequently, women, and Black, Indigenous and people of color become unpaid family caregivers – those less likely to have savings or income to pay for care. They must leave their own jobs to care for others, putting pressure on household income and worsening the labor shortage.
WA Cares will enable us to pay our family members for their time caring for us, or hire help so our family members don’t have to leave their jobs.
We Cares for WA Cares is a coalition of consumer advocates including AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, Lupus Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.