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AARP AARP States Washington

WA Cares in Washington State

You’ll never be alone

Washington State is the first in the nation to develop a new and innovative way to make long-term care more affordable for all workers in the state as we age. AARP advocated for the WA Cares Fund because hard-working Washingtonians deserve access to flexible and affordable long-term care coverage when needed.

Our long-term care system is struggling to keep up with the increasing demand of a growing older population. A recent article by the Seattle Times reported that Washington’s 65-and-older population increased by a staggering 63% from 2010 to 2022.

Most of us want to be able to stay own homes and communities as we age or face challenges caring for ourselves as a result of an injury, illness, or disease. We also know that seventy percent of us 65 and older will require some assistance to do that.

The result is that we find ourselves in a crisis of care, with a growing older population in which the vast majority lack the financial resources to pay for the care they need as they age.

For years, AARP, a Washington coalition of health advocates, senior groups, and care providers, worked alongside legislators to find a way to address the state’s looming long-term care crisis and in 2019 passed the Long-Term Care Trust Act.

The legislation led to the creation of the WA Cares Fund to help families shoulder the cost of long-term care and to support the thousands of individuals who count on family caregivers for assistance.

WA Cares provides flexible and meaningful benefits ensuring families can choose the care setting and services that best meet their needs, including help with personal care, medical assistance, transportation, meals, and more.

The Fund can offer them the time and resources to figure out a long-term plan for those who need extended care. It provides predictable coverage, regardless of pre-existing conditions, offering consumers a way to pay for long-term services.

Anyone who has needed help with long-term care for themselves or for someone they care about knows preparation is key. The WA Cares Fund is a resource to help meet the demand for the affordable, flexible, long-term care benefits our residents need and deserve.

How WA Cares Works

WA Cares is a new state benefit that will cover up to $36,500 (indexed to inflation) of long-term care costs for workers in Washington. 

  • All workers pay 0.58% while working, and fully vest after ten years. The median Washington worker will pay in approximately $300/year. 
  • WA Cares gives people the choice of aging at home by paying for home care, home modifications like ramps and grab bars, respite for family caregivers, in addition to the option to use the benefit in an adult family home or nursing home. 
  • Allows “near-retirees” to qualify for benefits based on the number of years they paid in 
  • Benefits for self-employed workers. 
  • Benefits for people with developmental disabilities. 
  • Exemptions for out-of-state workers, military families, and temporary non-immigrant workers.  

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With nearly a decade spent pursuing a program to help families deal with the cost of long-term care services, we have produced several articles detailing our work over time.
As a first-in-the-nation program, WA Cares has amassed a great deal of media interest. Read on for more coverage over the years.
In 2019, Washington became the first state to pass legislation creating a public long-term care insurance program. Passage of the Act required five years of in-depth study and analysis. Read on for more information about the background and history of creating the WA Cares Fund.

Planning for long-term care needs can be a complex process. No matter where you are in your journey, having resources at your fingertips will make the process easier.

We are Here to Care

“The last thing you want people thinking about in their golden years is money. WA Cares is a really unique program – to know that as you get older, you’re still cared for and you’re still valuable.” –KD

“The money’s going to be there, just like health insurance. Hopefully, you don’t ever have to use it and if you do have to use the insurance, then it’s there.” –SALLY

About AARP Washington
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