Small businesses can enroll in new health care exchange Tuesday

September 30th, 2013 | by Dominique Fong | Comments

Small businesses can start shopping Tuesday for health insurance plans through Covered California, the state’s online marketplace.

Open enrollment begins tomorrow for the Small Business Health Options Program, known as SHOP. Small businesses — those with 1 to 50 employees — can compare plans from a group of private insurance companies for coverage starting Jan. 1. For the first time for many small businesses, employers will be able to offer different insurance plans to different employees.

In the new marketplace, businesses will have more control over the level of coverage and the amount they contribute to their employees’ premiums. Plans will be organized into four tiers: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The highest ranking, platinum, means a higher premium but lower costs at the time of medical care.

Other benefits: Business owners’ contributions will remain constant, letting them predict and manage the health insurance budget. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees may qualify for tax credits if they enroll in the plan.

Larger businesses with 100 or fewer employees won’t be able to enroll until 2015.

More to come.

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