County Pulse

County government and health issues in Central Valley

County Pulse: Insurance website will be upgraded to offer online enrollment for small businesses

11/15/2013 12:00 AM

11/15/2013 11:34 PM

Amid the turmoil over individual-market health plans, the Covered California health exchange will upgrade its website late next week, bringing self-service enrollment online to small businesses.

The state’s enrollment portal will be offline for about two days, from late Friday to the early hours of Nov.25, as the system improvements are installed.

The state-run website will have enrollment pages for the Small Business Health Options Program for businesses with one to 50 employees. Business owners also can sign up for SHOP benefit plans through certified insurance agents.

In a news release, Covered California said the upgrades also will make the system more user-friendly for people seeking individual or family coverage.

California by far leads the nation in enrolling people in coverage through the health insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act.

According to figures released by the Department of Health and Human Services, 35,364 people in California selected a health plan between the Oct. 1 kickoff for the program and Nov. 2. That’s about a third of the 106,185 nationwide who chose a health plan. The figure includes people who made an initial premium payment and others who have not yet paid a premium.

In California, the government report said 192,489 applied for coverage and 105,782 submitted applications to the health exchange. Covered California determined that 93,663 were eligible to enroll in a health plan and 79,519 were eligible for the Medi-Cal program.

New York had the second-highest enrollment, with 16,404.

California is one of 15 states that agreed to run a health exchange after President Barack Obama signed the law in March 2010, and

is regarded as a testing ground for the national effort to extend health insurance to millions of


The program was off to a far slower start in states where the federal government manages or supports the health exchanges, because of serious problems with the national enrollment website. In 26 states, there were fewer than 1,000 people enrolled, with some of the smallest numbers reported in North Dakota (42), Alaska (53), Wyoming (85) and Delaware (97).

The enrollment data is available at

About This Blog

The Bee's Ken Carlson writes about county government and health issues in the Central Valley.

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