Oct. 26—There's a new
Starting in January, most workers in
The plan was signed into law in 2019 and eligible beneficiaries will be able to begin collecting benefits (up to
While people will be able to apply for an exemption through next year, you must have purchased a qualifying insurance plan before
Dozens of readers responded to a recent
Here are answers to the most common ones.
Why is there a limited time to opt out? What about private long-term care insurance?
In order for
"There is no such thing as social insurance that is voluntary," he said.
When designing public insurance programs, policymakers are trying to avoid people waiting to seek insurance until they think they will soon need it, he said.
This largely occurs in the private long-term insurance market, Veghte said, where most people only seek coverage when they are in their 60s, which has led to annual premiums as high as
"Long-term care insurance has been around for four decades and they've never managed to cover more than 7% of the population," Veghte said. "That's never proved to be an affordable product for the middle class."
Between paying off student loans and raising children, most families aren't able to save for retirement, he said. A 2016 report by the
Part of the impetus behind the long-term care legislation was a nationwide trend of increased long-term care premiums each year, according to the
For families who can't afford long-term care or insurance, women often give up their careers to care for aging loved ones, Veghte said. Currently 80% of long-term care is provided by unpaid family caregivers, making up about 830,000 people in the state, according to a
However, that current approach will become less realistic as aging baby boomers will outnumber caregivers at a 3-1 ratio, nationally, by 2050, according to a
I am retiring in less than ten years. Does that mean I will never be eligible for the benefit?
According to current eligibility requirements, an individual must have worked and contributed to the fund for at least 10 years, without a break of five or more years, or three years in the past six years at the time they apply for benefits with at least 500 hours worked annually during those years.
Once someone works and pays into the fund for ten years, they maintain access to the fund for life. However, if someone is close to retirement and completely stops working in the next ten years, they can seek the benefit within three years of when they stopped working.
For example, if someone works the next three years and retires in 2024, they will be eligible to claim benefits starting in 2025, but only for the next three years if they stop working entirely.
Veghte said the commission that oversees the
Will there be any other changes to the program in the future?
One would allow people who have temporary work visas to opt-out of the program. The other allow
The last issue, which Veghte said will take more time to figure out, will focus on
Who needs long-term care? Who will claim benefits in the future?
The benefit is intended to cover a broad-ranging list of services including in-home care, transportation, home-delivered meals and nursing home services. Seeking benefits isn't limited to older residents. Veghte said the benefit would also be available to people who are seriously injured and need assistance before returning to work and people who need end-of-life assistance for various reasons.
Cases when people are in nursing homes for extended periods of time are rare and most people die within three years of requiring care, he said. Research on long-term care use shows around 17% of people 65 and older die without ever requiring any care, with the rest needing some form of help.
Around one third of
Medicare does not cover long-term care.
Where does the money go? Who is responsible for taking money out of my paycheck? Do I need to enroll into the fund?
From there, the money goes to the
Unlike the state pension fund, the
A state ballot measure which included a constitutional amendment allowing the fund to do so failed in 2020 and was stuck in committee in 2021, he said. The current payroll tax of 0.58% has been set with the assumption that a ballot measure will pass eventually. Otherwise, the premium would have to be higher and closer to 0.66% for the fund to be sustainable, according to actuarial analysis. The premium cannot be increased beyond 0.58% without legislative action.
A website to claim benefits is still in progress, said Veghte, who anticipates most people in the future will apply for benefits online. Then, within 45 days, the application will be processed and if deemed eligible, someone will come to their home to verify long-term care assistance is needed.
Providers will then be able to bill the fund and submit claims. Family members who are caretakers may be able to bill their hours, Veghte said.
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