Program News & Webinars

How WA Cares benefits families and communities

older man reading to toddler on his lap
March 6, 2023
The WA Cares Fund works like an insurance policy. We all contribute a small percentage of each paycheck to ensure that if we need long-term care later on, we can access services and supports. 

We sometimes hear people ask what happens to their WA Cares contributions if they never need long-term care. Even if you are among the minority of people who never have a care need, there are many ways WA Cares could still benefit you and your community.

You may be more likely to need long-term care than you think


About 70% of us will need help to live independently at some point in our lives. Long-term care, also known as long-term services and supports, covers a broad spectrum of needs and circumstances. It can be provided in your home or a residential care setting, like an adult family home or assisted living facility. These services and supports typically help with a wide range of activities of daily living, including:


  • Bathing
  • Body care
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Eating
  • Getting in or out of bed
  • Medication management
  • Personal hygiene
  • Toileting
  • Transfer assistance


That means most people who contribute to WA Cares will benefit directly from the program, receiving a $36,500 budget (adjusted for inflation) to use for the services they need to keep living independently. 


Your loved one may need long-term care


Even if you never need to use your own WA Cares benefit, the program will still benefit you indirectly. Providing care for loved ones is often rewarding, but it can also be stressful and difficult. Almost half of family caregivers report a related financial setback and they spend an average of 25% of their own income on care-related expenses. 


If you need to care for a loved one who has a WA Cares benefit, they can use their benefit to pay you to provide care or pay for respite care so you can get a break.


Care responsibilities impact the workplace


You may also see impacts of WA Cares in the workplace, as colleagues who are struggling to balance caregiving responsibilities and their job get the support they need to stay in their jobs.


Most family caregivers work in addition to caring for their loved one and 61% of say that their care responsibilities have impacted their jobs. Many caregivers have to go in late, leave early or reduce their overall work hours. Some report receiving warnings about their performance or attendance, turning down a promotion, quitting, retiring or losing benefits. 


WA Cares includes many options to provide support and flexibility for family caregivers. Families can use the benefit to train and pay a family caregiver or hire someone to help with care so the family member can take a break.  The financial support and resources WA Cares provides could help family caregivers stay in their jobs if they want to. 


We all pay the costs of long-term care


WA Cares will also help reduce the need to raise taxes to fund Medicaid long-term care. Without WA Cares, the age wave would have caused Medicaid long-term care costs to double in roughly two decades. To pay for that increase, sales or other taxes would have needed to go up accordingly.  


Most people can't afford private long-term care insurance coverage and many others wouldn't meet underwriting criteria. Paying out of pocket later in life when you’re on a fixed income also isn’t affordable for most of us. WA Cares is a more efficient, family friendly way to pay for long-term care. Instead of waiting until we are impoverished to qualify for coverage, we can access long-term care when we need it.