Most of us will pay for long term care, either for ourselves or for someone we love. The choice we have is whether to pay for it suddenly in a daunting lump sum, or a little at a time when we can afford it.
The situation will be different for everyone: you break your leg hiking and live alone with no one to help you recover. Your spouse has dementia and needs someone to look after their meals and care while you’re at work. Your diabetes and high blood pressure get worse, impacting your eyesight so you can no longer cook, bathe or move around safely. Your options right now are to risk paying (or relying on a family member to pay) for long term care out of savings or a reverse mortgage, or manage that risk by paying high premiums for private long term care insurance. Starting next year, Washingtonians will have a third option: the WA Cares Fund.
“The WA Cares Fund gives Washingtonians the opportunity to age with dignity and independence. It allows us all to put a care plan in place without quitting jobs, going into debt or putting a burden on our families,” says Ben Veghte, director of WA Cares Fund for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
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.
“Private long term care insurance is unaffordable for most people. Paying annual premiums when you’re working is hard enough, but the real problem comes when you’re retired and on a fixed income. You owe premiums until you need care, which means you can be paying into your 80s. Many people are also over-insured, and never end up using the full value of their policy,” Veghte says.
- Convenient. Just a few dollars from your paycheck and it’s automatically deducted. Stays with you even between jobs.
- Fair. Women pay the same rates as men, and care covers pre-existing conditions like cancer, diabetes, MS, and high blood pressure.
- Flexible. Stay home, or go wherever is best for you, to receive help how and when you need it. You can even use the WA Cares Fund to receive paid care from family members
- Affordable. No premiums when you retire, or are between jobs.
“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. Consumers need to be aware,” says Cathy McCaul with AARP Washington. “If you miss a premium payment, change jobs, or have a change in health status, your policy could be terminated. The WA Cares Fund acts as a safety net, and unlike private insurance, you stop paying into WA Cares when you stop working.”
Learn more at WALongTermCareOptions.info.