Covered California is the first-in-the nation online health insurance marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act. It will help individuals and small businesses compare health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they qualify for federal tax credits and enroll in a plan that meets their specific needs.
Covered California will begin open enrollment in October, but many small businesses still have questions about the marketplace, as well as their options and obligations.
Health care reform "is a mammoth challenge," Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said. But, purchasing insurance will be "easy relative to how complicated buying insurance has been in the past."
Designed to offer small businesses, or those with two to 50 employees, and their workers simplicity and a chance for affordable health coverage, Covered California aims to level the playing field and offer employers better choices at lower costs.
In response to questions posed by small business owners Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney's Building & Loan and Marco Rodriguez of MVP's Sports Grill, Lee said:
• small businesses don't have a mandate to offer health insurance
• small businesses can purchase insurance through Covered California's marketplace or on the open market.
• small businesses can choose how much coverage they want to provide but then let employees pick the right plan from a range of options that fit them best.
Additionally, small businesses purchasing coverage in Covered California's Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) can continue to use their brokers and some will be eligible for federal tax credits.