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Everyone’s health care needs are different. That’s the idea on which CaliforniaChoice was built 25+ years ago. CaliforniaChoice gives people the freedom to choose the health plan that fits their unique needs. That’s because we offer access to nine premier health plans in a single health insurance program.

Knowing the key benefits of each of our plans helps members determine which health plan is right for them. Our CaliforniaChoice plan comparison series takes a closer look at what you can expect from each. This comparison highlights Health Net and Oscar Health.

Health Net

Established in 1977, Health Net of California is among the state’s largest health insurers. It offers a range of coverage options to millions of California residents. Within the CaliforniaChoice program, you and your employees can choose from 12 different HMO options.

Health Net Benefits Overview

Oscar Health

Oscar is the country’s first technology-driven health insurer focused on improving the member experience through easy, personalized service.

Oscar for Business was launched to bring the same Oscar experience that individuals already love to the employer market.

 Oscar Benefits Overview

The CaliforniaChoice Advantage

With CaliforniaChoice, you and your employees can find a health plan that best meets your needs. For example, one of your employees might choose an HMO from Health Net because of its statewide provider network. Another employee might prefer the technology focus of a plan like Oscar. With CaliforniaChoice, they both get what they want – plus the option to choose from other plans, too.

The advantages of CaliforniaChoice are not just for your employees. There are benefits for you — like the ability to manage all of your employees’ health insurance benefits in a single program and pay just one monthly bill. CaliforniaChoice also offers single source administration for enrollment, eligibility, and customer service.

Check back to see additional CaliforniaChoice comparisons for these health plans:

An employee benefits agent can help you learn more about all of the advantages and coverage options from CaliforniaChoice. If you do not have an agent, we can help you can find one here.

If you’re interested in giving your employees the freedom to choose from nine different health plans in a single program, CaliforniaChoice is for you. Choice is a part of our name – and we have been offering more of it to Californians since 1996.

Having a variety of PPO, HMO, EPO, and other health plan options is important, because it gives you the opportunity to match a plan to your specific health care needs. We launched our health plan comparison series in 2020 to help you understand the advantages offered by each of the nine health plans that are part of CaliforniaChoice.

The comparison below looks at Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross, both available statewide.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente was founded in 1945 and was one of the nation’s first health programs to offer comprehensive health care services on a prepaid basis.

Headquartered in Oakland, California, Kaiser Permanente’s innovative spirit drives the country’s largest non-profit health care organization – guided by physicians and focused on providing high-quality care to members.

Kaiser Permanente Benefits Overview

Anthem Blue Cross

One of the state’s largest insurers, Anthem Blue Cross delivers coverage to millions of Californians. The insurer offers flexible, innovative benefits, health improvement programs, and simplified administration.

Anthem Benefits Overview

The CaliforniaChoice Advantage

CaliforniaChoice gives you and your employees the ability to choose the health plan that meets your unique needs. For example, one of your employees could choose Anthem Blue Cross because of its statewide network. Another employee could select Kaiser Permanente because of its 24/7 accessibility to nurses and doctors.

However, the advantages of CaliforniaChoice go beyond great health insurance options. There are extras for employers, too. CaliforniaChoice offers single source administration for enrollment, billing, eligibility, and customer service. You can manage all of your employees’ health insurance benefits in a single program – and pay just one monthly bill.

Check back to see additional plan comparisons, including:

Your employee benefits agent or insurance broker can help you learn more about all of the coverage options from CaliforniaChoice. If you don’t already have an agent, you can find one here.

CaliforniaChoice is committed to helping its members get the support needed to deal with COVID-19. As California moves toward a full reopening, it’s a good time to remind our customers and prospective customers of the COVID-19 resources offered through our partner, Mineral (formerly known as Mammoth HR/ThinkHR).

Through Mineral’s dedicated, public website, www.thinkhr.com/covid19, we offer access to trusted and timely information, including:

We also offer other free resources through our HR Support Center powered by Mineral:

Discounts through Cal Perks

Another benefit available to CaliforniaChoice members is the Cal Perks program, which offer savings on entertainment, health and wellness, and much more.

Cal Perks is free to you and your employees enrolled in CaliforniaChoice, offering steep discounts on a range of tickets, products, and services:

Flexible Insurance – and So Much More

If you’re not already offering health insurance from CaliforniaChoice to your employees, there are many reasons to consider it. CaliforniaChoice offers everything you and your employees want:

To learn more, contact your employee benefits broker. If you don’t already have a health insurance agent, we make it easy to find one in your area.

It’s no secret that employee benefits can be expensive and managing costs is more important than ever. CaliforniaChoice is a small business health exchange that helps you save money on health care, and offer more choices than any single health plan.

Whether you want to retain your current employees or are recruiting for open positions, offering employee benefits can make all the difference. The MetLife 2021 Employee Benefits Trends Study – the first to look at employee and employer expectations in a pandemic-affected world – found several important trends to consider, including:

Health Insurance Valued by Employees

According to employee surveys – year after year – one of the most valued and appreciated employee benefits is health insurance. In the MetLife survey, health insurance ranked at the top of employees’ prioritized benefits list – with 85% considering it a “must have” and 10% saying it’s nice to have; just four percent said it was unneeded. A 401(k) or other plan ranked second, with 78% calling it a “must-have” benefit.

Controlling Your Costs

If you are looking for ways to help you keep your best workers, and attract new employees, the right benefits can help. With CaliforniaChoice, you can you can set your employee benefits cost to fit within your budget and give your employees the freedom to select a health plan that fits their needs.

Through CaliforniaChoice’s Defined Contribution, you choose a Fixed Percentage of costs (from 50% to 100%) for a specific plan and/or benefit, or you can choose a Fixed Dollar Amount for each employee. (Your contribution must be the same for all employees.) Your employees then apply your contribution to whichever health plan and benefits they prefer. If your employees select a plan that costs more than your contribution, they simply pays the difference.

When you renew your CaliforniaChoice coverage for your employees, you have the option to adjust your employer contribution – up or down – giving you complete control over what you spend on employee benefits for another year.

CaliforniaChoice offers 75+ coverage options from nine different health plans across California. One employee might select an Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plan from Anthem Blue Cross, Oscar, or Cigna + Oscar, while another chooses an HMO from Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, or UnitedHealthcare. A third employee might select coverage from a regional plan like Sutter Health Plus, Western Health Advantage, or Sharp Health Plan.

Not Just Great Coverage

As you compare health coverage options for your employees, it is important you look at the “big picture.” Beyond the HMO, PPO, EPO, and High Deductible Health Plan options, and the provider networks offered by those plans, CaliforniaChoice offers you and your employees access to valuable extras through the Member Value Suite and Business Solutions Suite – both at no cost.

These programs include discount health and wellness services, savings on movies, theme parks, water parks, sporting events, travel, museums, aquariums, zoos, and retail, home education and audiobooks, a prescription drug card that can often reduce your out-of-pocket costs to less than your Rx co-pay with insurance, and more. Depending on your group size, your organization may also qualify for a Premium Only Plan, Flexible Spending Account, and COBRA billing services at no charge.

Finding a Broker Is Easy

If you are not already working with a health insurance agent, or if yours does not specialize in employee benefits, visit the “Find a Broker” section of the MyCalChoice website. The services of a broker will not cost you anything – and using one could actually save you both time and money.

With COVID-19 cases declining and vaccination rates increasing, California is aiming to fully reopen June 15. As of May 18, more than a dozen counties statewide had moved to yellow, the minimal risk category for COVID-19.

Transitioning Employees

Employers are starting to consider how best to transition staff who have been working from home back to the office. The challenge is many employees are showing some hesitancy to returning to business as usual. Small business owners must weigh the pros and cons of going back to the office full time. For many employers, this is uncharted territory. Here are some considerations and frequently asked questions.

Can I terminate an employee who refuses to return to work?

Although you cannot force an employee to return, their refusal to go back to work could jeopardize their future eligibility for unemployment benefits. According to the California Employment Development Department (EDD), if an employer abides by local and state guidelines and provides adequate employee protections, if employees refuse to return to work out of a fear of contracting COVID-19, they would not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Alternatively, if the business does not have proper protective measures in place, employees could use the lack of measures as their basis for not returning to work. In this circumstance, employees would be able to claim unemployment benefits.

Could a hybrid schedule be a good solution?

You may consider welcoming your staff back with a hybrid work schedule – where they work onsite two or three days a week on a staggered schedule, and work remotely on other days. This type of arrangement can help ease employees’ concerns about safety and improve attendance and productivity. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers some guidance in Managing Flexible Work Arrangements.

Can I require my employees to wear a mask?

Generally, yes. According to SHRM, employers can require face coverings as company policy when there is a legitimate business need, such as a concern about employee health and safety. In most cases, employers are able to enforce workplace face-covering requirements and discipline and/or terminate employees for failure to comply.

An employee with a disability that interferes with his or her ability to wear a face covering may request a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (Refer to SHRM’s How to Handle an Employee’s Request for an ADA Accommodation for additional guidance.)

Can I require my employees to be vaccinated?

Some employers have implemented rules requiring new employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. However, they may not be asking similar requirements of current employees. Others are offering a financial or other incentive (like added paid time off) to both new and current employees who are vaccinated. A survey by UCLA found interest among employees for an incentive; one-third of respondents said they would get the COVID-19 vaccine if offered an incentive of as much as $100. Another survey by a recruiting software firm found that even among vaccine mandate skeptics, one third would consider the vaccine if incentivized by their employer. 

Additional Resources

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers some guidance to employers on COVID, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO laws here. Although you may wonder if asking about an employee’s vaccination status is a possible HIPAA violation, media reports suggest it is probably not a violation for non-health care businesses. If your business is bound by HIPAA (if, for example, you’re a health care provider or related business), an employee’s vaccine card is protected health information, and you may not want to ask about an employee’s vaccination status. The Los Angeles Times reported on May 18 that guidance from the EEOC allows employers to require vaccinations if job-related or if an employee being unvaccinated could pose a threat to others.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests employers monitor guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the California Department of Industrial Relations (also known as Cal/OSHA). Updates are being made to their websites regularly.