What is WA Cares (the State Long Term Care Trust)?
Washington State has enacted the first public long-term care insurance program, called WA Cares. The Long-Term Care Trust Act creates a publicly funded long-term care benefit for Washingtonians that provides a basic level of long-term care protection for working residents.
Starting January 1, 2022 the state will impose a .58% payroll tax on all W-2 employees who reside in Washington State. Unless you qualify for an exemption, this will be deducted from your paycheck and has no cap. The funds will be used to create the Long Term Care Trust.
Who is eligible for the trust?
Once you begin paying into the Trust, you will be eligible for long term care benefits based on the following criteria:
- You have paid into the trust for 10 years, or 3 of the last 6 years if you have a catastrophic disabling event.
- You reside in Washington State at time of claim. If you move out of the state for any reason, you forfeit all premiums paid and all benefits from the trust.
- You meet criteria of not being able to complete 3 of 6 defined "activities of daily living".
What benefits does the trust provide?
The trust will provide benefits for long term care services:
- You must be eligible for the plan based on the above criteria.
- Benefits are capped at $100 a day with a $36,500 lifetime cap.
- Providers will need to be on an approved list. Family members may be be eligible for compensation for some services after they complete an extensive course of training.
- First claims could be paid starting January 1, 2025.
Who can opt-out of the trust?
Certain individuals will be able to opt-out of the trust and not pay the .58% tax. These include:
- Those who have purchased private Long Term Care Insurance before November 1, 2021 (IMPORTANT: Long Term Care Insurance applications should be submitted by August 15, 2021 to allow time for processing).
- Self-employed individuals can opt-in but are not automatically included.
What is the timeline for the trust roll-out?
- Statewide employer education will begin during 2021, so employers should be getting some educational material in the near future
- Public outreach and education pending
- First payroll deductions begin January 1st, 2022
- First claim for benefits can begin on January 1st, 2025
- Trust Act Commission will issue its first report on participation, benefits paid and Medicaid savings on January 2nd, 2026