Thinking ahead during Long-Term Care Planning Month

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October is Long-Term Care Planning Month, and a few tips can help people understand where to start when it comes to thinking about the future.

Affording care is among the most critical pieces of planning.

Bea Rector is the assistant secretary for aging and long-term support administration at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

She said people typically can’t rely on health insurance to cover these costs.

“If somebody doesn’t have long-term care insurance,” said Rector, “then they’re really looking at family and friends maybe helping take care of them or purchasing services out of pocket – or, of course, there’s the safety-net program that is Medicaid.”

Rector said in-home care or being in a facility outside the home can be costly. She noted that many people receive care from a loved one, which can reduce costs but also comes with burdens on the person providing it.

Rector said Washington is the only state in the country with a program that workers pay into in order to fund long-term care.

The WA Cares Fund will provide access to up to $36,500 in benefits starting in 2026. The amount will be adjusted for inflation going forward.

Rector said the money is flexible.

“That can be used to pay for a wide variety of things,” said Rector, “from home modifications to wheelchair ramps to personal-care services in the home or even services out of the home, like in an adult family home or assisted living facility.”

Rector said it’s essential to start planning early.

“Really making sure that the loved ones around you know what you want that to look like and making sure that you’ve got decision-making supports put in place,” said Rector, “things like durable power of attorneys, etc. – so that financial or health-care decisions be made by someone that you trust.”

Featured image: Long-term care is an increasingly crucial issue as the U.S. population ages. (Studio Dva Kera/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

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