The WA Cares Fund is a new mandatory long-term care insurance benefit for workers in Washington State, which is intended to help offset workers’ eligible long-term care related expenses. The program will be funded by a mandatory payroll tax paid by workers in Washington State beginning in January 2022.
Although workers will begin paying the tax in January 2022, eligible participants may not begin utilizing the benefit until January 2025. Under the WA Cares Fund, individuals will have access to $100 per day, up to a lifetime benefit of $36,500 that will be adjusted annually for inflation.
The Washington Health Care Authority, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, the Washington Office of the State Actuary, and the Washington Employment Security Department each have distinct responsibilities in the implementation and administration of the program.
Can I opt-out of the WA Cares Fund?
According to the WA Cares Fund website, employees may choose to “opt-out” of this new mandatory program by:
- Purchasing their own long-term care insurance policy, and
- Applying for and being approved for an exemption by ESD.
To qualify for an exemption, employees must purchase their private policy before November 1, 2021, and must apply for an exemption to the Employment Security Department between October 1, 2021, and December 31, 2022.
Does my Navy Mutual plan qualify me for exemption under the Washington State Long-Term Care Act?
No. Some of Navy Mutual’s plans offer what is known as an accelerated death benefit. This benefit may cover expenses typically related to care needed for serious, ongoing health conditions or disabilities. For example, if you suffer from a long-term health condition, you may need assistance with “activities of daily living,” such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, eating, and moving around. While the expenses covered may be similar to those covered by long-term care insurance, accelerated death benefits are not considered long-term care insurance products for purposes of the Washington State Long-Term Care Act.
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