Employee Benefits Compliance, State-Specific Information

California: Recent Benefits News


New California Bill (SB 1034) would Repeal 60-day Cap on Waiting Periods

“California Senate Bill 1034 sponsored by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) would repeal language in the Health & Safety and Insurance Code that currently limits waiting periods under small and large group HMO contracts and health insurance policies to a maximum of 60 days.  The new bill, if enacted, would prohibit insurers and HMOs from imposing any waiting or affiliation period under group coverage in the small and large-group markets.  This would allow California employers to follow the Affordable Care Act’s maximum 90-day limit on eligibility waiting periods.” (http://eforerisa.wordpress.com/, March 7, 2014)


California Bill Would Extend Health Coverage To All Residents

“In a push to cover immigrants excluded from the nation’s health reform law, a California state senator has proposed legislation that would offer health insurance for all Californians, including those living here illegally. The bill would extend state-funded Medi-Cal to low-income immigrants who, because they are in the country without permission, are now eligible only for emergency and pregnancy coverage. It would also create a marketplace similar to Covered California to offer insurance policies to higher income immigrants who lack legal status” (Kaiser Health News, Feb. 18, 2014, Anna Gorman). http://capsules.kaiserhealthnews.org/index.php/2014/02/california-bill-would-extend-health-coverage-to-all-residents/


State Sen. Gaines Sues Covered Calif. Over Canceled Health Plans

State Sen. Ted Gaines — who is running for state insurance commissioner — this week filed a lawsuit challenging the state health insurance exchange’s decision not to allow insurers to continue selling plans that do not meet requirements under the Affordable Care Act, even after President Obama announced a proposal allowing states to do so. Sacramento Business Journal et al. (California HealthCare Foundation, March 6, 2014)   http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2014/3/6/state-sen-gaines-sues-covered–calif-over-canceled-health-plans 3-6-14


California Employer Health Benefits Survey: Workers Feel the Pinch

The 2014 edition of the annual California Employer Health Benefits Survey (by the California HealthCare Foundation) provides an overview of the benefits landscape in California in the lead-up to the implementation of the ACA in 2014.  Some highlights of the report:  In 2013 average monthly premiums for employer plans in California were higher than nationally:  $572 for single coverage, compared to $490 nationally. Monthly premiums for family coverage were $1,442 in California and $1,363 nationally. Since 2002, premiums in California rose by 185%, more than five times the state’s overall inflation rate. The proportion of California employers offering coverage has declined significantly over the last decade, from 69% in 2000 to 61% in 2013. Coverage is offered to employees at a higher rate at larger firms, firms with higher wages, and firms with some union workers. (California HealthCare Foundation, Jan. 2014, 41-page report)



Calif. DOJ Boosts Involvement in Data Breach Investigations

The California Department of Justice has released a cybersecurity guide for small businesses as part of its efforts to take a more active role in preventing data breaches across the state. About 300 data breaches occurred in California in the past two years, including some that affected health care organizations and state agencies. (AP/Contra Costa Times, Feb 28, 2014)  



Covered CA Suspends Online SHOP Enrollment Until Fall of 2014

On February 12, 2014, Covered California™ suspended online enrollment in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).  The SHOP portal was taken offline until the fall of 2014 in order to make needed enhancements. Until then, small businesses can continue to enroll in the SHOP by using paper applications. Small-business owners can work with a Certified Insurance Agent or can call the SHOP Service Center (877-453-9198, 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday – Friday). The Service Center can work with Agents as well as small business owners, and can answer questions and help with paper applications. (Covered Cal Press Release Feb 12, 2014.)


California Marketplace Among First to Post Customer Health Plan Ratings

“Covered California assigned star ratings to the health plans based on member survey responses. The surveys were taken before the insurance marketplace opened, so they only compare plans that had a track record beforehand. The ratings cover such topics as access to medical appointments, customer service and the quality of medical care.” (Kaiser Health News, Jan. 30, 2014)   http://capsules.kaiserhealthnews.org/index.php/2014/01/california-marketplace-among-first-to-post-customer-health-plan-ratings/


Marketing Mistakes Hurt Latino Enrollment in California

Research shows that certain sales strategies resonate with American Latinos, but California’s insurance exchange didn’t try any of them initially.  (Kaiser Health News, March 6, 2014)http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2014/March/06/marketing-mistakes-california-latino-enrollment.aspx