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CaliforniaChoice gives you and your employees the freedom to choose coverage from a range of different health plans in a single program. “Choice” is a part of our name – and we have been offering more health plan options to Californians since 1996.

Choice is important, but having information to help you understand the advantages offered by each of your health plan options is essential, too. That’s why we launched this ongoing series of comparisons to break it down for you.

The comparison below looks at the benefits of UnitedHealthcare and Cigna + Oscar, both available statewide through the CaliforniaChoice program.

UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare of California provides access to quality care and helps you manage your family’s health care costs. The insurer’s large California HMO network includes local physicians and health care professionals in your community. Offering a combination of benefits, quality care, wellness programs to help keep you and your family healthier, and award-winning customer service makes UnitedHealthcare the smart choice for your family’s health care coverage needs.

UnitedHealthcare Benefits Overview

Cigna + Oscar

Partnering in 2020, Cigna + Oscar is designed to work for small businesses. It brings together the power of Cigna’s nationwide and local provider networks and Oscar’s member-focused experience. The companies offer affordable, fully insured health benefits for small businesses and their employees.

Cigna + Oscar Benefits Overview

The CaliforniaChoice Advantage

With CaliforniaChoice, you and your employees have more choice – and the ability to find health insurance that meets your unique needs. One of your employees might choose an EPO plan because of its health network and direct access to in-network specialists. Another employee might select HMO coverage because of its lower out-of-pocket costs. With CaliforniaChoice, they both get what they need – while other employees have the option to choose from dozens of coverage options through other plans.

There are benefits for you, too – like a single monthly bill for all of your employees’ coverage and single-source administration for enrollment, eligibility, and customer care.

Check back to see additional comparisons on other CaliforniaChoice plans, including:

An employee benefits agent can provide you with more information about the advantages of CaliforniaChoice and available coverage options. If you don’t already have an agent, you can search for one here.

Health care is not one size fits all. That’s why CaliforniaChoice gives you the freedom to choose from a variety of different health plans in a single program.

Understanding your health plan options, and their unique benefits, is just as important as having choices. Our health plan comparison series puts a spotlight on the subject. In this comparison, we explore the benefits of Sharp Health Plan and Kaiser Permanente, two popular health plans available through CaliforniaChoice.

Sharp Health Plan

Sharp Health Plan is the only local, commercial health plan serving San Diego since 1992. As a non-profit company, Sharp Health Plan gives back to the community by providing access to affordable health care of the highest quality, serving a variety of organizations ranging from small businesses to large employers to municipalities.

Sharp Health Plan Benefits Overview

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente was founded in 1945, and it 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

The CaliforniaChoice Advantage

With CaliforniaChoice, you and your employees can find a health plan that best meets your individual needs. One of your employees might choose the benefits of a “hometown” health care provider like San Diego-based Sharp Health Plan. Another employee might prefer Kaiser Permanente because of its statewide provider network. With CaliforniaChoice, they both get what they want – plus the option to choose from seven other plans, too.

The advantages of CaliforniaChoice are not just for your employees. There are benefits for you, too — 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.

Effective June 15, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom terminated emergency orders that put the state under restrictions as part of its response to COVID-19. Mandates concerning physical distancing, capacity limits on businesses, and the county tier (color-coding) system have ended. The California Department of Public Health has issued new guidance concerning the use of face coverings, requirements for “mega events” (with 5,000 or more attendees), and requirements for public schools.

Employers statewide are implementing different approaches to reopening. Some have fully reopened; some have announced plans to maintain remote-work arrangements with some or all of their workforce; others are implementing a hybrid approach, with employees returning to work for a portion of the week, while continuing to work remotely on some days.

We recently interviewed Flor Real, the Human Resources Director at The Word & Brown Companies, to learn more about what her organization is doing as workers return to the office (after a majority of staff has worked remotely for 15 months). Flor has been the organization’s HR Director since October 2019. She has more than 20 years of HR management experience in various industries, including health and human services, education, and manufacturing. Flor’s passion is health and safety in the workplace. She attends annual OSHA trainings to stay up to date on changes in safety regulations for workplace compliance. She is a proud member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Below is a summary of our recent interview.

How did COVID-19 impact your company, both from an operations and culture standpoint?

At the beginning of the pandemic, like many businesses, our Executive Leadership team at The Word & Brown Companies was faced with the challenge of making quick business decisions that would have an impact on our operations and culture to ensure the safety of our employees and business continuity.

It was decided to deploy our business continuity plan and allow more than 95% of our staff to work 100% remotely. The entire company pulled together to ensure we made this operational change happen without an interruption of the business. We did this very successfully. 

With respect to our culture, like many family-owned businesses, we are proud of the fun and family- oriented culture that we have built since 1985. During the pandemic, we wanted to make sure we maintained our culture despite the challenges we faced while physically distant. The Human Resources department planned many, almost monthly, virtual activities for our staff to keep us connected and engaged. 

The staff sent a Health & Wellness communication every Friday to remind staff we are in this pandemic together, and that no one is alone. Additionally, individual departments planned virtual team building events, virtual staff meetings, and attended virtual conferences to remain connected with each other and with our industry. 

Describe the policies you put in place to address any challenges that arose.

We implemented new COVID-19 Office Safety Guidelines with respect to handling possible exposures in the workplace, and new office safety guidelines regarding sick time and requirements around social distancing, face coverings, room capacities, facility cleaning, sanitization schedules, etc. We also put a policy in place where employees and management had one point of contact (the HR Director) to report possible exposures, and/or if they had any questions with respect to COVID-19 Office safety procedures. 

Have employees expressed hesitation/concern over returning to work?

After surveying our staff, more than 70% stated they preferred working remotely rather than returning to the office. 

What are common employee concerns and how are you addressing them?

The staff did not list any specific concerns, but, rather, expressed a preference in working from home, which has provided for them a better work/life balance. Our Executive Leadership team addressed this concern by implementing a “Work from Home Policy.” Our employees could choose to come in to the office or continue to work from home, and in some cases based on business needs, the manager could request the employee come in to the office up to two days per week. This new policy will allow us to optimize productivity, while offering employees the flexibility of a healthier work/life balance. We expect to welcome more employees back to work on-site in mid-July.

Does your company have a “Safe Return to Work” plan?

Yes, in fact we called ours the “Safe Return to the Office” plan.

Please describe your process for formulating the plan.

I worked with the Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Executive Vice President of Marketing to create the Safe Return to the Office plan referencing Governor Newsom’s State of California Road to Recovery Plan, as well the CDC guidelines. Once we developed the draft plan, we sent it to a select group of management staff to provide input for clarity of understanding and operational effectiveness. 

What advice do you have for other employers working to safely transition employees back to the office?

The advice I would offer other employers as they are safely transitioning their employees back to the office is to consider employees’ desires about returning to the office. It is important to balance those desires with your business needs and strategy. In other words, optimize business productivity with the flexibility of healthier work/life balance by allowing employees to work a hybrid office and remote schedule. 

Also, be ready for your employees to return safely to the office by developing a “Safe Return to the Office” plan that is communicated clearly to all employees. Your employees must know that the company is concerned with their ongoing safety, and is prepared for their safe return. The only way to do this is staying on top of all the COVID-19 safety guidelines delineated by Cal/OSHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whichever is more stringent to ensure the health and safety of all employees.    

Additional tools and information: The State of California offers guidance and a variety of resources through its COVID19.CA.GOV website, including information on:

The California Department of Industrial Relations also offers Cal/OSHA COVID-19 guidance and resources on its website.

CaliforniaChoice recognizes the importance of having choices when it comes to something as important as health care. That’s why we’ve created the most diverse portfolio of health benefits on the market. We give you and your employees the freedom to choose from a roster of different health plans in a single program.

We’re highlighting the key offerings of each available health plan in our plan comparison series. This comparison features Sutter Health Plus and Cigna + Oscar.

Sutter Health Plus

Not-for-profit Sutter Health Plus offers competitively priced HMO health plans in the Greater Central Valley, Sacramento, and San Francisco Bay Area. When you choose Sutter Health Plus, you gain access to a high-quality provider network that includes many of Sutter Health’s nationally respected and recognized hospitals, doctors, and other health care services – all at an affordable price.

Sutter Health Plus Benefits Overview

Cigna + Oscar

Partnering in 2020, Cigna + Oscar is designed to work for small businesses. It brings together the power of Cigna’s nationwide and local provider networks and Oscar’s member-focused experience. The companies offer affordable, fully insured health benefits for small businesses and their employees.

Cigna + Oscar Benefits Overview

The CaliforniaChoice Advantage

With CaliforniaChoice, you and your employees have more choice – and the ability to find health insurance that meets your unique needs. One of your employees might choose an EPO plan because of its health network. Another employee might select HMO coverage from a regional or statewide plan. With CaliforniaChoice, they both get what they need – while other employees have the option to choose from dozens of coverage options.

There are benefits for you, too – like a single monthly bill for all of your employees’ coverage and single-source administration for enrollment, eligibility, and customer care.

Check back to see additional comparisons on other CaliforniaChoice plans, including:

An employee benefits agent can provide you with more information about the advantages of CaliforniaChoice and available coverage options. If you don’t already have an agent, you can search for one here.

Employee benefit surveys commonly show health insurance among the most appreciated employee benefits. In the MetLife 2021 Employee Benefits Trends Study, health insurance ranked atop employees’ prioritized benefits list. An overwhelming majority – 85% – said it is a “must have.” Ten percent said it is nice to have. A mere four percent said it was unneeded.

With so much employee enthusiasm for health insurance, the challenge for you is finding coverage that can address all employees’ needs. That’s especially true with today’s workforce so diverse (often multi-generational and multi-ethnic). CaliforniaChoice Total Choice is the answer.

More Tiers, More Choices

Since CaliforniaChoice began in 1996, it has offered employers a better way to control employee benefits costs. And it does so, while offering increased choices to employees.

Today, CaliforniaChoice offers four options to you and your employees.

Total Choice: Access to health plans and benefits in all four ACA plan tiers:

Triple Choice: Access to health plans and benefits in three plan tiers:

Double Choice: Access to health plans and benefits in two plan tiers:

Single Choice: Access to health plans and benefits in any single plan tier:

Total Choice has been the leading employer option since its 2020 launch.

Total Choice satisfies everyone:

Coverage from Top Carriers

CaliforniaChoice gives you and your employees access to nine health plans – and dozens of coverage options – across California.

With CaliforniaChoice, your employees can choose from HMO, EPO, and PPO plans based on their unique needs. It’s their choice.

Offering this level of choice also gives you a recruiting advantage and a powerful tool to help you retain current employees. And it does so without increasing your costs, as compared to a single health plan solution.

Defined Contribution Cost Control

One of the biggest advantages offered by CaliforniaChoice is Defined Contribution. It lets you decide how much you want to contribute toward your employees’ benefits costs, without limiting your employees’ benefit choices.

You can choose a Fixed Percentage (50% to 100%) of a specific plan and/or benefit, or you choose to contribute a Fixed Dollar Amount for each employee.

Your employees then apply your generous contribution toward whatever health plan they each like best. If the plan an employee prefers costs more than you’re contributing, the employee simply pays the difference.

Options for Other Coverage

In addition to great Medical coverage, CaliforniaChoice includes options for Dental, Vision, Chiropractic, and Life, too.

There are value-added extras as well – for you and your employees. The Business Solutions Suite offers HR Support, a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), COBRA or Cal-COBRA billing services, and a Premium Only Plan (initial set-up at no cost). The Member Value Suite includes outstanding savings on entertainment, a range of fitness and wellness products, and discount services for Dental, Vision, and prescription drugs, as well as a free hearing service plan.

Whether you have one employee or 100, you’ll receive a single, consolidated monthly bill that lists all of your employees, their selected coverage, your contribution, and employee deductions. It’s also easy to pay your CaliforniaChoice bill and manage your employee benefits online.

Talk with a Broker to Learn More

If you’re considering employee benefits for the first time, or you want to review your program to make sure you’re getting the most value for your dollar, a great place to start is by talking with an employee benefits broker.

A broker can help you review available health plans and networks, talk about your tier options, including Total Choice, and deliver a quote based on your employees’ specific needs.

If you’re not already working with a broker, we can help you search for one here. The services of a broker will not cost you anything – and using one could actually save you and your company time and money.

You and your employees know that having choices is important. We do, too – “choice” is part of our name. CaliforniaChoice gives you the freedom to choose from a roster of health plans in a single employee benefits program.

However, having choices is not enough if you don’t understand how each health plan we offer differs. You need to understand the advantages offered by each. Our ongoing series of plan comparisons breaks it down for you.

The comparison below looks at Anthem Blue Cross, available statewide, and Sharp Health Plan, available regionally in the San Diego area.

Anthem Blue Cross

Among the top insurers in the state, Anthem Blue Cross delivers health insurance coverage to millions of Californians. The insurer offers health improvement programs, simplified administration, and flexible, innovative benefits. 

Anthem Benefits Overview

Sharp Health Plan

Sharp Health Plan is the only local, commercial health plan serving San Diego since 1992. As a non-profit company, Sharp Health Plan gives back to the community by providing access to affordable health care of the highest quality, serving a variety of organizations ranging from small businesses to large employers to municipalities.

Sharp Health Plan Benefits Overview

The CaliforniaChoice Advantage

You can offer your employees coverage from nine health plans through CaliforniaChoice – so it’s easy to find one that best meets their unique health care needs. For example, one employee might select Anthem Blue Cross because it includes a preferred doctor, while another employee might choose Sharp Health Plan because of its premier regional provider network. With CaiforniaChoice, they both get what they prefer, while other employees have access to additional regional and statewide health plan options.

CaliforniaChoice offers other advantages, too. Like one monthly bill for all employees’ coverage, a Member Value Suite with discounts on gym memberships and fitness gear, a Business Solutions Suite that includes a no-cost Premium Only Plan, and a single email and toll-free phone number for customer care.

Visit our website again to see other CaliforniaChoice plan comparisons, including:

For additional information about CaliforniaChoice and its Member Value Suite and Business Solutions Suite, talk with your employee benefits agent or health insurance broker. If you don’t already have one, we can help you find one here.

On June 3, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) said whether an employee has to wear a mask depends on the vaccination status of others. Now, Cal/OSHA will propose something different. At its June 17 meeting, it will consider allowing fully vaccinated individuals to stop wearing a mask on the job.

The new rule could go into effect by June 28, aligning it with rules issued by the California Department of Public Health that take effect on June 15.

Earlier, Cal/OSHA said workers would be able to go without a mask only if everyone in a work area is vaccinated fully against COVID-19. For workers without full vaccination, masks stay on except when drinking or eating.

What Californians can do outside of their workplace versus at home poses a challenge – for employers and employees.

Regulations issued by Cal/OSHA apply in virtually all California workplaces. The exception is for a single employee who does not have contact with others. Or, where employees are working from home.

As of June 11, statewide, 58.5% of Californians have had at least one shot. More than 45 percent are vaccinated fully, according to Bloomberg. The Golden State has the highest daily rate of vaccine doses. Unfortunately, those numbers are down from five weeks ago.

The highest distribution counties are Los Angeles (10 million), San Diego (3.61 million), and Orange (3.27 million). Marin County has the highest rate of vaccination at 67.3%, with 10 other California counties above 50%.

We all love choices, but the reality is navigating the complexities of health insurance can be overwhelming — for both you and your employees. Each of you is different; you have different health care needs, budgets, and preferences. The truth is, there is no single health plan that works for everyone. That’s what’s why we do things differently at CaliforniaChoice.

CaliforniaChoice offers HMO, PPO, and EPO coverage options from the state’s top health plans in a single program. We’re proud to announce the newest addition to the CaliforniaChoice program: Cigna + Oscar. In this series, we break down your options and compare key benefits of each of our participating health plans. The comparison below looks at how Cigna + Oscar compares to Sharp Health Plan.

Cigna + Oscar

Partnering in 2020, Cigna + Oscar is designed to work for small businesses. It brings together the power of Cigna’s nationwide and local provider networks and Oscar’s member-focused experience. The companies offer affordable, seamless, fully insured health benefits for small businesses and their employees.

Cigna + Oscar Benefits Overview

Sharp Health Plan

Sharp Health Plan is the only local, commercial health plan serving San Diego since 1992. As a non-profit company, Sharp Health Plan gives back to the community by providing access to affordable health care of the highest quality, serving a variety of organizations ranging from small businesses to large employers to municipalities.

Sharp Health Plan Benefits Overview

The CaliforniaChoice Advantage

With CaliforniaChoice, you and your employees can find a health plan that best meets your individual needs. One of your employees might choose an EPO from Cigna + Oscar. Another employee might prefer a HMO plan from Sharp Health Plan. With CaliforniaChoice, they both get what they want – plus others have the option to choose from additional 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 already have an agent, we can help you can find one here.