Starting in January, 2014, the Covered America SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) will help California small businesses provide affordable small group health insurance for their employees through the program’s small business health insurance marketplace. The SHOP exchange will make it easy to offer employees a large selection of health plans generally only available to larger employers.

Small-business owners may enroll in the Covered California plans beginning on October 1, when the exchange is launched, for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014. Depending on which of the 19 pricing regions they reside in, employers and employees will be able to choose between 3 or 4 carriers. SHOP plan choices will have good provider networks, a standardized set of benefits and a choice of insurers at competitive prices.

While rates will vary based on the region, the premiums for Covered California SHOP insurance coverage is fairly comparable to 2013 small-group market rates, which can possibly save small businesses money. There are four levels of health insurance plans offered under Covered California — Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Small-business owners will be able to shop online through the exchange to compare available coverage options for their employees.

Employers will be able to choose the best fitting coverage level, then choose the anchor plan that suits their budget. For more information about choosing the best level and anchor plan for your small business, contact the Redlands, California insurance experts, Bernardini & Donovan Insurance Services , today.

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