You never know what will happen
WA Cares provides peace of mind
Wed., Feb. 1, 2023
Vicki Bickford, professional home care aide. (Courtesy WA Cares)
Chances are you or someone you love has experienced what it’s like to be a caregiver while juggling life’s bills and responsibilities.
In Washington, it’s estimated that nearly 1 million people are unpaid family caregivers.
WA Cares is a new Washington state benefit available to all workers in the state, even those near retirement, and those working only an average of 10 hours per week. We’ll be able to tap into our WA Cares funds to stay in our own homes with paid home care if we experience challenges due to dementia, cancer, and other illnesses or injuries.
We can even use our WA Cares funds to pay a family member to be our caregiver.
“A lot of people have this mentality, it’s just not going to happen to me. Let me tell you from personal experience, the likelihood of you becoming a caregiver or becoming the one needing care is high,” shared Christina Keys, who has been a caregiver for her mother.
Now a new report has great news for 65,000 workers in the Spokane area who will soon be building up WA Cares benefits.
It’s a fact: the vast majority of us will need help with basic activities like dressing, bathing, making meals, and getting around at some point in our lives as a result of an accident, injury, illness or disease.
Vicki Bickford, a professional home care aide, says, “Now I have aggressive arthritis, and even walking up stairs is tough. Someday I’ll need help with daily tasks, like grocery shopping, bathing, and moving around the house. With WA Cares I’ll be able to pay a home care aide to help me, and replace my stairs with a ramp.”
It’s also true that most of us simply don’t have the savings to pay for help, and we don’t want to drain what we do have in order to qualify for Medicaid.
Today, the median American savings account contains less than $5,300.
Selena Ostergard, a single mother who also takes care of her own mother financially, shared: “I only have a few months rent in my savings. I see how people end up needing help with things like showering and meals due to an injury or a chronic condition. WA Cares funds will stretch our dollars so we don’t have to choose between getting internet and healthy meals or getting help with dressing and showering.”
3.1 million Washington adults under the age of 65 have a pre-existing condition
According to the new report, 57% of non-elderly adults have common pre-existing conditions like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, lupus, depression, sleep apnea, asthma, and more that likely disqualify them from private long-term care insurance coverage.
WA Cares covers all workers, including those of us with pre-existing conditions.
WA Cares will provide $36,500 (which grows with inflation) to help pay someone when we need help with tasks like dressing, bathing, making meals and getting around as a result of an injury, illness, disease or the normal challenges that can come with aging.
WA Cares will keep money spent on our care in our communities.
The WA Cares Fund is expected to generate $3.9 million in jobs and other economic benefits in our communities in 2026 alone.
Every dollar in WA Cares spending on a home repair person, home care provider, or medical supplier generates another $1.50 in economic benefits for our communities and businesses.
An estimated 860,000 unpaid family caregivers provide assistance to loved ones in Washington.
Frequently, women, and Black, Indigenous and people of color become unpaid family caregivers – those less likely to have savings or income to pay for care. They must leave their own jobs to care for others, putting pressure on household income and worsening the labor shortage.
WA Cares will enable us to pay our family members for their time caring for us. WA Cares will also allow us to hire help so our family members don’t have to leave their jobs.
We Cares for WA Cares is a coalition of consumer advocates including AARP, Alzheimer's Association, Lupus Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
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