Covered California Officially Launches SHOP Exchange Website
On Monday, Covered California formally launched its health insurance exchange website for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 12/2).
Editor's Note: For more coverage of the new SHOP exchange, check out today's "Capitol Desk."
Under the Affordable Care Act, the Small Business Health Options Program allows small businesses to offer either a single plan to all of their workers or select a benefit level and allow employees to choose among several plans offered at that level (California Healthline, 11/11).
Premiums for work-sponsored health coverage in California have increased by 170% over the past 10 years, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2012, only 60% of employers in the state offered health benefits (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 12/2).
Details of the Small Business Exchange Site
Small businesses can use the new site to enroll in the Small Employer Health Options Program by:
- Submitting an application; and
- Initiating online open enrollment for workers (Cadelago, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 12/2).
So far, more than 1,500 small employers have begun the enrollment process through Covered California. Exchange officials seek to cover 40,000 workers through 7,000 small businesses in 2014 (Los Angeles Times, 12/2).
Coverage will begin as early as Jan. 1, 2014, but small businesses are able to enroll year-round (Sacramento Business Journal, 12/2).
John Arensmeyer, CEO of the Small Business Majority, said the site's launch "could not come at a better time for California's small businesses" (Gorman, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 12/2).
John Kabateck -- executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business' California chapter -- said he is "cautiously optimistic" about the SHOP exchange.
However, Kabateck said the group still is "advising our members and other small business owners to first consult their brokers, lawyers and financial advisors" before signing up for coverage.
More Agents Certified
The new site also allows certified agents to start, submit or manage applications on behalf of small businesses.
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said that more than 7,700 insurance agents have been certified to sell plans through Covered California, up from just 4,390 certified agents a month ago. However, about 11,000 agents still are awaiting certification (Sacramento Business Journal, 12/2).
On Monday, the AP/KPCC's "KPCC News" reported on the SHOP exchange website ("KPCC News," AP/KPCC, 12/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.