Thursday WA Governor Jay Inslee announced the WA State long-term care insurance plan or WA CARES, will be changing to allow people to use it out of state.

Original plan did not allow out-of-state use

WA CARES will not start paying benefits until you have paid into the fund for ten years. The long-term care insurance plan was first hatched in 2019, but took nearly four years to retool, as legislators have to fix numerous flaws.

WA workers in 2023 began paying $.58 cents of every $100 dollars of salary into the plan which has a maximum benefit of $36,500.  You will have to pay into it for ten years before you can access it, but there are some exceptions if you are very close to retirement or have a serious medical or other situation.

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WA workers were given a short period to purchase their own long-term care insurance so they could opt out.

 Now the state says you can take it with you

Originally, if you moved out of WA state, you could not take the plan with you, and you lose all the money you paid in. Now, Gov. Inslee says beginning in July of 2026, eligible recipients will be able to use it even if they relocate to another state in retirement.

Supporters of the plan say this is much needed, but opponents say the only reason the state did this was to try to convince voters to vote 'no' on Initiative 2124 in November. I-2124 would allow anyone to opt out of the program and its payments at any time.

 Passage of  I-2124 would, according to numerous studies and experts, likely kill the program because thousands of WA workers would opt out. The plan is already insolvent, and making it voluntary would force the state to possibly abandon it altogether.  Critics of the plan say the maximum $36,500 benefit payout barely makes a dent in the bills of a person who typically requires long-term medical or other care.

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