Capitol Alert

Small businesses can keep health plans next year

California small businesses will be allowed to keep health insurance plans that don’t conform to the federal Affordable Care Act through next year.

The urgency measure signed by Gov. Jerry Brown brings the state into line with a federal policy that lets small employers continue to offer non-compliant plans. Senate Bill 1446 was authored by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

“The signing of SB 1446 is a victory for all California small businesses, as small employers who need time to transition to Affordable Care Act compliant policies will now have additional time to make the transition,” Jones said in a prepared statement on Monday. “While many small employers will move to new health insurance options right away, SB 1446 provides additional choices to those who choose to use the transition period.”

The federal health care law requires individual and small group plans and policies to include a list of essential benefits and limits on out-of-pocket costs. Jones’ office noted that the plans coming due for renewal already must comply with several major parts of the federal law, including preventative coverage, without co-pays or deductibles, and inclusion of maternity care and autism coverage.

The California law permits small employers with coverage purchased by Dec. 31, 2013 to renew their existing policies until Jan. 1, 2015 and to keep them one year.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee