August 9, 2021

Are you ready for Washington State’s new long-term care act?

Washington is the first state in the nation to create a publicly funded, long-term-care insurance program for workers. The WA Cares Fund will be funded by employees, who will pay taxes through payroll deductions. The model is similar to the Family Leave and Medical Leave plans enacted in 2018. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, employers are required to implement payroll deductions.

Here are a few things employers should know:

  • All W-2 employees 18 years and older in the state will have a new payroll tax assessed on gross wages beginning Jan. 1, 2022. This tax is intended to provide Long Term Care coverage at a rate of $100 a day for one year of coverage. The maximum is $36,500.
  • Washington workers will begin earning coverage in January 2022 by paying .58% of their total wages per paycheck into the WA Cares Fund.
  • Individuals who would like to opt out of the state-managed program must have a private long-term care insurance plan in place before Nov. 1. They will then need to apply for an exemption to avoid having the automatic deduction from their paychecks starting in January 2022.
  • People have until Dec. 31, 2022, to apply for an exemption. That means they would pay a year of the premium unless they opt out before the payroll deduction starts. Once you opt out of the state program, you can’t get back in.
  • Through the state plan, long-term care can only be received in Washington State.
  • Options for private plans are limited. Employers should encourage employees to look for a plan now to meet the Nov. 1 deadline.
  • Not happy with the legislation? Contact your legislator and make your concerns known.

Deadlines are looming and questions are plentiful. Fortunately, resources are available. Here are a few:


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