SEATTLE - A new survey finds support for the first-of-its-kind long-term care program set up by Washington state.
Under the WA Cares Fund, Washingtonians will have access to $36,500, adjusted for inflation, to pay for care services when they retire. The AARP survey found 51% of Washingtonians support the program, but Cathy MacCaul, advocacy director for AARP Washington, noted that support goes up as people find out more about the fund, such as the fact that they don't keep paying for it once they retire.
"As the voters learned that you're not going to be excluded by pre-existing conditions, you can pay a family caregiver, men and women pay the same," she said, "that significantly increased the favorability of the WA Cares program."
MacCaul said seven in 10 adults age 65 and older will require some type of assistance to live independently as they age. Some opponents of the program have said it doesn't offer enough coverage.
MacCaul said there are likey some details about private long-term policies of which people aren't aware.
"Consumers should be aware of buying a policy and what they are paying into and how much they're paying into the policy," she said, "because the premium payments don't stop when you retire."
MacCaul said people often don't think about long-term care until they need it and have some misconceptions on how they will afford it. She said three-quarters of the people surveyed incorrectly believe Medicare or private insurance would pay for long-term care in a nursing home. She said they have other impressions as well.
"Almost 80% mistakenly thought that they would be able to use Medicare or private health insurance for a paid family caregiver to help them with dressing or bathing, etc.," she said.
Beginning in 2022, workers will pay 58 cents for every $100 they make into the WA Cares Fund. They will have access to the fund in 2025.