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Small Businesses Get New Health Insurance Options in Covered California

La Citta Vita via Flickr

La Citta Vita via Flickr

Covered California is asking small businesses to check out its new offerings for group coverage over the next few months.

The state’s health insurance marketplace says small businesses will have new choices for coverage purchased through Covered California starting in October.

Through the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, employers will be able to select two tiers of coverage. Dana Howard of Covered California says adult dental care and new benefit packages will also be available in next year’s plans.  

“Hopefully we’ll attract more employers and entice more small group, small businesses and offer their employees health care coverage,” says Howard.

The SHOP exchange had a rough start in California this year. Enrollment was taken offline so problems could be resolved. There were delays, and insurance brokers were unhappy.

That’s according to Micah Weinberg, Senior Policy Advisor of the Bay Area Council says. His group represents businesses.

“Because of the start-up difficulties the word on the street became that the SHOP doesn’t work. As we get the SHOP up and really working, hopefully we can change that reputation and have people take a second look at this marketplace,” says Weinberg.

Covered California says it is working to improve the SHOP internally, but the marketplace has been working this year.

SHOP has enrolled about 12,000 employees, representing almost 2,000 businesses in California. Howard of Covered California says the program can provide employers with choices they wouldn't being to provide otherwise.

“It’s a really competitive package that the small businesses can offer, that will put them on the same playing field as their larger competitors in attracting the best employees,” says Howard.

Workplaces with fewer than 25 employees can get tax credits through the Covered California program. Small businesses can sign up for SHOP at any time through an insurance agent.

Pauline Bartolone


Pauline Bartolone has been a journalist for more than 15 years, during which she was Capital Public Radio’s healthcare reporter from 2011-2015. Her work has aired frequently on National Public Radio.  Read Full Bio 

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