Covered California, the state’s public health exchange, seems to be stabilizing the health care market in California, even as similar programs in the rest of the country seem to be floundering. For this reason, the program could serve as a model for the rest of the nation — and for the small business sector in particular.
Covered California for Small Business
When it comes to the small business section of the marketplace, Covered California just announced a 5.6 percent increase in premium rates for 2018, which is down from the 5.9 percent increase for rates in 2017.
The program also enjoys a fairly high participation rate among insurance companies. Only one insurer left the marketplace over the past year. And small businesses still have five different Covered California plans to choose from in 2018.
The individual sector isn’t quite as stable, with higher premium increases and a reliance on federal subsidies. But as most of the state’s residents get coverage through an employer, stabilizing the small business sector seems like a decent place to start.
And it seems to be working. Membership in Covered California for Small Businesses jumped 27 percent in the last year. So the exchange now covers about 35,000 workers.
Unfortunately, similar programs in the rest of the country aren’t enjoying this level of stabilization. Small businesses like local restaurants have struggled due to the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. And without access to markets as stable as the offerings of Covered California, many businesses don’t have great options for providing coverage to employees.
At least Covered California is demonstrating it is possible to have a public health marketplace with fairly stable rates and decent options for small businesses. If other states are able to follow suit, it could lead to a much better situation for businesses around the country.
Image: Covered California