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News: 2013 Press Release

For Release: December 2, 2013
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner congratulates Covered CA for successful launch of SHOP exchange
Small business owners encouraged to take advantage of available tax credits

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today praised Covered California for the launch of the Small Businesses Health Options Program (SHOP). SHOP is a marketplace where small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees can shop for insurance and receive tax credits if they meet the minimum criteria.

"The Small Business Health Options Program plays an essential role in lowering barriers that previously discouraged some small employers from offering health insurance to their employees," said Jones. "I am pleased by the successful launch of the SHOP exchange and what this means for California small business owners. In this time of change and opportunity, I encourage small business owners to talk with an agent or broker to help determine what their health insurance needs are, and what tax credits and discounts are available to them."

Throughout the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Commissioner Jones has worked to ensure that essential processes and protections are in place to protect consumers. Before the launch of the exchange, Commissioner Jones pushed for additional consumer protections such as the requirement for fingerprinting and background checks when it comes to assisters and navigators who are certified to help people looking for coverage through Covered California. The California Department of Insurance has worked with Covered California on their certification of agents to process more than 2,330 health agent endorsements so far, with more expected quickly. The department also expedited the approval of the training that agents must complete before becoming certified agents for the exchange. The department also oversees agents and brokers in regards to law enforcement investigations, potential sanctions and criminal prosecution when appropriate.

Earlier this year, the president suspended the mandate on businesses with greater than 50 employees which required them to purchase health insurance in 2014. While the ACA does not require small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to purchase health insurance, the commissioner has been vocal in his encouragement to consider shopping through Covered California where they can take advantage of the tax credits being offered to small businesses in the SHOP and premium subsidies for individual and family policies.

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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2013 the California Department of Insurance received more than 170,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $63 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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