Covered California for Small Business (CCSB) unveiled the health plan choices and rates for small-business employers and their employees for the upcoming 2018 plan year. The statewide weighted average rate change will be 5.6 percent for employers and their employees, which is down from the 5.9 percent change in 2017.
“Our small-business exchange is strong, and we are pleased to welcome back five health insurance companies to compete in regions across the state,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “The rates announced today show how marketplaces can work to provide consumers with value and choice.”
CCSB will be offering five plans in 2018, including two preferred provider organization (PPO) plans with full provider networks, from Blue Shield of California and Health Net, and two health maintenance organization (HMO) plans that are provider- and hospital-based, from Kaiser Permanente and Sharp Health Plan. Rounding out the 2018 portfolio of health plans is Chinese Community Health Plan in San Francisco. CCSB will not be offering Western Health Advantage in 2018, a move that will affect approximately 350 consumers.
“We are confident that small-business employers and their employees who need affordable health insurance will have excellent choices in Covered California for Small Business,” said Robert Manzer, deputy director of Small Business Exchange and Agent Program Management. “This is a market that works for consumers, bringing choice and stability to California businesses.”
CCSB has experienced double-digit membership growth for the third consecutive year. Currently, more than 35,000 individuals have insurance through CCSB, representing a growth of approximately 7,600 individuals for a 27 percent gain in membership over this time last year. This makes CCSB one of the largest small-business health options programs in the nation.
Similar to the individual market, consumers may be able to limit increases in their rates or perhaps even save money on their premiums by shopping and switching to the lowest-cost plan in the same metal tier.
However, unlike the individual market, CCSB is not affected by the current uncertainty at the federal level because it does not rely on federal funding. CCSB is self-sufficient and must compete for membership in the commercial small-business insurance marketplace in order to grow its business, just like any other commercial enterprise.
Lee said today’s moderate rate change shows how the market can work when it is stable and supported. “This is what stability can look like,” he said.
CCSB is also pleased to announce its web-based enrollment and renewal portals for employers, agents and general agents. The enhancements will allow CCSB to be a leader in moving the small-group insurance market to an e-commerce industry.
“Reducing the administrative burden and inefficiencies that come with enrollment and the ongoing maintenance of small-business insurance is a business imperative,” Manzer said. “We are pleased to be able to play an important role in achieving that goal.”
Businesses with up to 100 employees can apply for health insurance coverage for their workers through Covered California for Small Business. Federal tax credits may be available to employers with 25 or fewer employees.