Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee at a May news conference.… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)
SACRAMENTO -- California's small businesses next year will have a range of competitively priced options offered by a state government health insurance exchange.
The agency, Covered California, unveiled its portfolio of coverages Thursday afternoon. They include both health maintenance organizations and preferred provider networks and will be available in all parts of the state as of Jan. 1.
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees can buy the insurance but are not required to do so under the new federal Affordable Care Act. Californians who are not covered by employer or government programs, however, will be hit with financial penalties if they fail to obtain health insurance.
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Participating providers include Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Health Plan and Western Health Advantage.
Small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time workers that purchase the state-backed coverage could further reduce their costs by qualifying for a federal tax credit.
The Covered California policies will be available for sale beginning Oct. 1.
"Employer-sponsored health coverage has historically played an important role in insuring Californians," said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. "Our launch of a full-choice, small-group market is a testament to the state's commitment to build on the critical role of employer-based coverage."
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