All of us will reach a moment in our lives, or in the life of a parent when we will need to make tough decisions about the costs associated with aging.

In 2019 the Legislature took steps to help Washington’s workforce better save for the sometimes very high costs associated with growing older.

That year we established the nation’s first public long-term care insurance benefit, WA Cares, in order to help Washington’s workers prepare for potential future long-term care needs. This program will help people keep their savings rather than spend them down to qualify for financial support.

In Jan. 2022, Washington workers will begin paying a small premium, up to a maximum of 0.58% percent of their earnings. Then, beginning Jan. 2025, each person who is eligible can begin using the benefit for services and supports costing up to $36,500—the average amount that a person needing long-term care spends in Washington. You can learn more about eligibility and applying for benefits here.

For most Washingtonians, there is nothing you need to do to enroll. Your employer will simply begin collecting the premiums. Information for employers is available here.

Self-employed people can easily opt into the program and protect themselves with the same benefits available to other workers in Washington. Applications will be available beginning in Jan. 2022. Information for self-employed people is here.

Participating in WA Cares does not prevent you from adding private insurance on top—that option is certainly available to you. But for those who have private insurance and wish to opt out of WA Cares, information on how to do that is available here.

We know that 7 in 10 Washingtonians over the age of 65 will need long-term services and supports within their lifetimes. WA Cares will help ensure that Washingtonians can get the care they need, when they need it.

You can learn more about the WA Cares program by watching this video.