Our Support & Resource Center

If you find small business employee benefits and health insurance difficult to understand, you’re not alone. Choosing the right employee benefits program for your small business can have a huge impact on your bottom line. We can help!

We’re hosting a Small Business Employee Benefits Seminar on Thursday, August 1st, at 11:00 a.m., at Andrei’s Restaurant in Irvine.

You’ll get answers to frequently asked small business employee benefits questions:


CaliforniaChoice Small Business Employee Benefits Seminar + Lunch

Andrei’s Restaurant
2607 Main Street
| Irvine, CA 92614 

Thursday, August 1
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


At CaliforniaChoice, we’re committed to helping you and your employees make educated decisions about your health benefits. We’ve created several tools to help you gain a better understanding of health insurance and get acquainted with the CaliforniaChoice program.


Program Highlights

This flyer describes the key components of the CaliforniaChoice multi-carrier, private health insurance exchange for small business. It features a quick overview of “Why CaliforniaChoice?,” calling out special benefits such as:

Download the CaliforniaChoice Program Highlights here.


Employer Videos

We’ve created a variety of short videos to help you better understand the benefits of CaliforniaChoice. Each video addresses different components of our program, including:

An Introduction to CaliforniaChoice

With access to eight of California’s leading health insurance carriers and plans – plus optional benefits like Dental, Vision, and Chiro – CaliforniaChoice combines everything you need into one program. It also gives employers like you more time to spend on your business and less time worrying about employee benefits.


Multiple Options, One Program

Get an overview of how CaliforniaChoice offers employees HMO, PPO, EPO, HSA, and other options to find the coverage that works best for their individual or family needs.


Cost Control

Defined Contribution makes it easy to control your costs because you choose what amount you want to contribute to employee benefits.


Health Insurance Plans

Employees choose the CaliforniaChoice coverage that best meets their needs and budget. One employee might choose a PPO, while another selects an HMO, EPO, Health Care Service Plan (HSP), or Health Savings Account (HSA) qualified coverage. It’s their choice.


Ease of Administration

Similar to the way you may bundle your phone, cable, and Internet at work or home, CaliforniaChoice bundles dozens of HMO, PPO, EPO, HSP, and HSA options for your employees. We then send you one consolidated bill for all employees’ coverage at the end of the month.


Additional Plans and Perks

CaliforniaChoice offers more than Medical benefits. Our program includes Dental, Vision, Chiropractic, and Life Insurance plus valuable savings on other products and services through our Member Value Suite and Business Solutions Suite.


Broker Model

When you work with a broker, you get an industry expert dedicated to helping you make the right health insurance decisions for your business. Even better, there is no cost to you.


Fast Facts

This informative guide provides additional details on CaliforniaChoice, including information on:

Click here to download the Fast Facts brochure.


Learn More About CaliforniaChoice

To learn more about the CaliforniaChoice program and the benefits available to you and your employees, contact your broker.


No matter the size of your business, you should consider making team-building part of your company culture. The time spent away from the office is shown to improve communication, boost morale, and promote creativity and collaboration.

Here are five easy and inexpensive team-building ideas for your business.


1. Scavenger Hunt

This is a great option for multiple small groups. Depending on your work environment, you can have the hunt onsite or at a nearby location like a shopping center. Tasks can include taking a selfie with a stranger (possibly dressed in specific attire – like a hat) or photographing an object in the office or neighborhood. Make a list, set a deadline for task completion, and whatever team completes the most items on the list first wins.


2. Possibilities Game

The idea behind this game is for team members to talk and come up with potential new uses for common office items like a stapler or letter opener. Then, a member of the team must present the new use to the larger group without speaking, while others guess what’s being presented.


3. Truth or Lie?

Each person secretly writes down two truths and one lie about himself/herself. The objective is for the lie to be believable rather than over the top. Then you go around the group and share your tales, trying to determine which is real and which is not for each employee. It’s the perfect opportunity for your team members to learn more about one another.

Another variation on this game is “Who Is It?, where employees write down a fact about themselves, put it in a box and then draw out the facts and attempt to figure out to whom it applies in the group. The team with the most accurate guesses wins. You can also deduct points for wrong guesses.


4. Best Moments

Ask your team members to think about the best moments from their lives. This can be something achieved on their own (like running a marathon), an event or accomplishment they’ve shared with others (like a personal or professional achievement or event), or an exciting life adventure (like hang-gliding, getting married or taking part in a friend’s or relative’s wedding in an exotic locale, whatever).

After a couple of minutes, ask everyone to consider what 30 seconds in life they would want to relive if given the opportunity. This allows individuals to look back on their lives and share some moments with co-workers who may not know them well. Your facilitator can ask everyone why they chose that particular event and moment.


5. Escape Room

You can take your team off-site to a venue designed just for this purpose, or you can hire a firm to come in and create an escape room, murder mystery, or other themed event at your worksite. The concept presents your team members with puzzles they must solve in order to “find the key” or otherwise escape the venue. If they reach the time limit for the game, they are set free whether they have found the key or not. Escape rooms are popular for team building because they require workers to collaborate to find the exit or solve the mystery.

These are just a few ideas to help get you started. Whatever activities you choose, team building can help you foster a highly motivated, positive corporate environment that pays off big in the end.

The National Research Business Institute says that more than three-quarters of large employers (79%) have an employee wellness program of some type. Across the broader workplace, the percentage of employers offering a wellness program is close to half, according to the 2018 Aflac WorkForces Report, as reported by Small Business Trends in January 2019.

So, what steps should you consider if you want to implement a wellness program for your organization? Here are our five suggestions.

  1. Ask Your Employees

Employee feedback is critical to establishing a successful wellness program. Survey your employees to get their perspective. You’ll discover what they consider most valuable. As a starting point, wellness programs could include onsite classes, discounted gym memberships, and discounts on fitness gear such as Fitbits®.

  1. Start Slow

While you may have big ideas about what you want your program to do, it is best to start small. You want a program that is inviting for all employees and easy to understand. Make sure you consider everyone in your workforce when developing your program. That may include specific features designed to appeal to different segments of your employee population: women, men, younger and older workers, etc.

  1. Education is Important

Providing useful wellness information to your employees can help them take charge of their health. Talk with your health insurance agent to find out what information might be available from your health plan(s) that you can post onsite or include in regular staff communications. Consider a lunch-and-learn or health fair to share information or introduce employees to stress reduction techniques, health screening resources, fitness classes, or other opportunities available in your area. 

  1. Healthier Food Choices

If you have onsite restaurants, cafés, or food trucks, talk with the operators about adding a “healthy choice” to their daily menus. If you have vending machines managed by an outside firm, talk with the vendor about replacing some of the sugary drinks and empty-calorie foods with healthier options.

  1. Consider Walk-and-Talk Meetings or a Rewards Program

There are several out-of-the-box ideas you can implement in your workplace. “Standing desks” are increasingly popular. Having walking meetings can work for some managers and employees. You might also consider a rewards program or a prize drawing for employees who take part in charity walks or weight-loss clinics.

Health Plan Wellness Options

Supporting healthier employees can reduce workplace illness and absences, boost morale, and increase productivity. Many health plans offer wellness activities, education, and resources to help employees get and stay healthy. Talk to your employee benefits agent to find out what’s available to you. If you are not currently working with an agent, you can search for one here.

Unless you’re an insurance industry veteran or a health insurance agent, you might be wondering, What exactly is a defined contribution employee benefit plan?! More than just a mouthful to say, a defined contribution employee benefit plan allows companies to offer employees a full spectrum of insurance coverage that includes health , dental, vision, life, chiropractic and in some cases even more benefit options.

The defined contribution aspect of the plan gives business owners and managers the ability to choose how much they contribute toward the costs of their employees’ coverage. Groups typically like defined contribution because they can choose a fixed dollar amount or a fixed percentage (like 50%) of the cost for the lowest-priced plan. Plus, the amount they contribute is tax deductible for their business.

In order to help groups select the right defined contribution plan we created a guide ( available for download below) that includes some helpful tips to consider when searching for an employee benefit plan. The guide highlights some key factors to consider when plan shopping, including:

Download your copy today!

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect in March 2010. Still, many employers – particularly small businesses – remain unclear of its requirements. We’re untangling critical details about ACA coverage and the associated penalties.

ACA-Compliant Coverage

If you employ 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, you are an Applicable Large Employer (ALE) under the ACA and, therefore, subject to the ACA employer mandate. Under the mandate and the ACA employer share-responsibility provision, ALEs must offer minimum essential coverage that is “affordable” and provides “minimum value” to full-time employees and dependents.

All ACA-compliant plans for individuals and small groups must include these Essential Health Benefits:

The ACA divides health plans into four metal tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each tier offers a different level of support for covered services, with Bronze plans covering about 60% of health care costs. Silver plans cover 70%, Gold plans cover 80%, and Platinum plans cover 90% of costs for covered services.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

If you’re an ALE and do not offer health coverage, when an employee receives a federal subsidy to help pay for coverage through the Covered California exchange, that triggers a non-compliance penalty. The penalty is assessed monthly and is equal to the number of FTE employees (minus the first 30), multiplied by one-twelfth of $2,500 (the 2019 penalty amount). There is no penalty for not offering health insurance to part-time employees.

A greater penalty of $3,750 applies if you offer employee coverage that is not affordable or does not provide minimum value. Affordable means the cost does not exceed 9.86% of an employee’s household income for the lowest-cost, self-only coverage option. A health plan meets the ACA minimum value test if it includes substantial coverage of physician and inpatient hospital services and pays at least 60% of the total cost of medical services covered by a plan.

If you have seasonal or part-time workers and you are unsure if your business is an ALE, visit the IRS website to help determine your status.

Employer Cost Control

Cost is a huge consideration for employers when it comes to providing health benefits for employees, whether you’re required to provide coverage or not. However, the ACA does not require ALEs or non-ALEs to pay 100% of the costs of employee coverage. Businesses can share the costs with workers.

If you are not an ALE, what you contribute to employee coverage is entirely up to you. However, most employers who offer coverage, regardless of their workforce size, do pay at least half the cost. The Kaiser Family Foundation says in its 2018 Health Benefits Survey report that on average, covered workers make an 18-30% contribution to the cost of health insurance, depending on their plan type.

If you choose employee benefits through CaliforniaChoice, with Defined Contribution, you contribute a Fixed Percentage (50% to 100%) of a specific plan type, OR you can choose to contribute a Fixed Dollar Amount. If employees select a plan that costs more than your contribution, they simply pay the difference. At renewal, you can adjust your company’s Defined Contribution – up or down – to help you manage your costs for another year.

Non-Compliant Plans

There are several non-Major Medical plans that are not regulated by the ACA, and therefore, non-compliant. Among them are short-term health insurance plans (already limited in California), accident-only plans, limited-benefit policies (such as Long Term Care plans and indemnity coverage), and plans offering medical discounts that are not actually insurance programs. None of these meet the ACA employer shared responsibility requirements.

How to Learn More

The best way to learn more about required ACA benefits and the potential costs for your business is to talk with a licensed health insurance agent. If you are not working with an agent, click here to find one in your area.

CaliforniaChoice has always placed the highest priority on giving its members more choices when it comes to something as important as health care.

Now, as part of our continuing commitment to deliver more, we’re excited to introduce the Member Value Suite. It gives your employees and their loved ones access to outstanding savings on a range of products, services, and activities. Plus, it’s available to your employees at no added cost to you or your business.

Here’s a snapshot of all of the available discounts through the Member Value Suite:



Your employees’ free Cal Perks® program membership offers savings on movies, theme parks, water parks, sporting events, travel, tax prep, retailers, and more.


Wellness Products

The ChooseHealthyTM program offers discounts of up to 57% on Garmin®, Vitamix®, and Fitbit® products, fitness memberships for $25/month, and 25% savings on specialty health care practitioners in acupuncture, chiropractic, and therapeutic massage.


Dental Care

Employees enjoy reduced fees on hundreds of procedures at participating Dentegra® dentists across California and nationwide. Dentegra offers instant savings to your employees with no Dental claim forms or waiting periods.


Vision Care

The EyeMed® Vision One Eyecare program offers discounts on frames, lenses, and exams at participating JCPenney, LensCrafters, Pearl Vision, Sears, and Target locations in California and nationwide.


Hearing Services

Your employees can save up to 50% on brand-name hearing aids, and take advantage of additional discounts on testing, batteries, and other devices through the EPIC® Hearing Service Plan.


Prescription Drugs

The California Rx Card saves your employees up to 75% on brand name and generic prescription drugs – often reducing their cost to less than their Rx co-pay with insurance.


Talk with an Agent to Learn More

If you are interested in finding out more about the CaliforniaChoice Member Value Suite – and all of the benefits offered to your business and your employees through CaliforniaChoice – talk with your employee benefits agent.


Winter is finally on its way out and the sun is shining. It’s time celebrate and CaliforniaChoice can help. Check out the special offers and discounts you can take advantage of through Cal Perks, thanks to your CaliforniaChoice membership.

Save on Family Fun

Cal Perks offers savings of up to 40% on admission to some of California’s most-popular destinations for family fun. You can purchase discounted tickets to these attractions:

Movie Ticket Discounts

With Blockbuster season in full swing, you can save up to 35% on movie tickets for the whole family. Take advantage of discounts at six prominent theatre chains across the state, including:

A Relaxing Getaway for Less

Cal Perks can help you and your employees save on trips with discounts of up to 60% on hotel rates. Whether you want to escape to San Diego, Anaheim, San Francisco, or Las Vegas, you can find rates starting at well under $100 per night. Visit the Cal Perks website and check out the “Hotel Discounts” category.

Cruise the San Diego Harbor

Flagship Cruises & Events offers harbor tours, ferry and water taxi transportation, whale watching excursions, gourmet-prepared dinner and brunch cruises, yacht and boat charters, and fairy tale weddings.

Enjoy 25% off Dinner & Dance Cruises or Sunday Champagne Brunch Cruises on Flagship. You can also get one adult ticket free, when you buy one ticket, on seasonal Whale Watching Cruises or Harbor Tours on San Diego Bay.

Jump Start Your Beach Body

You can join LA Fitness online through until 3/28/2020, and take advantage of a low $25 initiation fee and pay just $34.99 per month per person for membership.

LA Fitness membership includes:

Visit www.calperks.com and choose the “Fitness/Wellness” category for details.

Note: Amenities and classes may vary from club to club; an extra charge applies for some amenities.

Enjoy More Activities

Cal Perks partner vendors include theme parks, amusement parks, home services and products, hotels, recreation venues, sporting events, entertainment venues, fitness centers, and much more. There is something for everyone at Cal Perks.

If you are already a CaliforniaChoice customer, login at calchoice.com to access your Entertainment Discounts in the Member Value Suite.


Get Free HR Support Services from CaliforniaChoice

CaliforniaChoice offers small businesses access to an online HR Support Center at absolutely no cost! We’ve partnered with Mammoth HR, a national human resources services leader, to help you stay on top of changing regulations affecting your business and your employees.

When you offer CaliforniaChoice health insurance benefits to your workers, you can take advantage of everything the HR Support Center has to offer, including:

  • Employee Handbooks, company policies, job descriptions, and HR forms
  • Alerts for regulatory changes affecting your business and employees
  • A database of thousands of questions and answers on subjects ranging from benefits and compensation to labor relations and recruitment
  • Tips, information, and best practices to help you better manage your business and employees
  • Tools and information on leave of absence, hiring, performance management, and termination
  • Great pricing on HR posters, books, and training videos
  • A subscription to the monthly HR Advisor e-newsletter designed to keep you aware of the most current HR best practices and legal changes
  • CaliforniaChoice is more than great health benefits. The HR Support Center is one of many valued-added benefits that are part of the Business Solution Suite. Other benefits include discount Dental, Vision, and Hearing services, a Premium Only Plan (POP), prescription drug discounts, HSA Resource Center, and Cal Perks discounts on travel, entertainment, and sporting events.

    Talk with an Agent to Learn More

    If you are interested in finding out more about the CaliforniaChoice HR Support Center, or any of the other advantages offered in the Business Solutions Suite, contact your employee benefits agent. If you do not already have an agent, we can help you find one.

    If you’ve been researching health insurance options for your small business, you’ve likely encountered the term “Exclusive Provider Organization” or EPO. This lesser known plan has its advantages, and it’s important to know all of your options before you make a decision. So, we’re breaking it down for you, including how an EPO differs from other health plan types, like a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or Preferred Provider Organization (PPO).

    Here are answers to five frequently asked questions about EPOs.


    1. What is an EPO?

    An EPO is a health plan that combines the traditional features of an HMO with the flexibility of a PPO. Like an HMO, an EPO offers members access to a network of doctors and hospitals from which to choose. Also, like an HMO, it offers a budget-friendly premium. However, an EPO may limit or not pay for services outside of your EPO plan network (except in case of an emergency).


    2. Where can I buy EPO coverage?

    Roughly half of California is served by one or more EPO plans. CaliforniaChoice offers multiple EPO options among its carriers. Oscar Health offers 11 EPO plan options in Los Angeles County and Orange County, including two Bronze tier plans, three Silver plans, four Gold plans, and two Platinum plans. Anthem Blue Cross offers two Silver tier EPO plans and one Bronze tier EPO plan through CaliforniaChoice.


    3. Does an EPO require me to have a Primary Care Physician, who will refer me to other specialists when I need care?

    With an EPO, you typically do have a Primary Care Physician (PCP) who will help you manage your health care. However, not all EPOs require your PCP to make referrals. Some plans, like the Anthem Blue Cross EPO and Oscar Health EPO, allow you to self-refer as long as your specialist is part of your plan’s EPO network.


    4. What if I need emergency care and have to go to the hospital?

    If you have an unexpected emergency need for medical care, an EPO will generally cover your treatment at least for some part of your stay in the hospital. However, you must get a pre-certification for non-emergency hospital care. Special rules typically apply for maternity stays of less than 48 hours. Ask your broker or review your health plan enrollment materials for details.


    5. How do I know if my preferred doctor is part of an EPO’s network?

    Insurers in the state that offer EPO health plans have provider lists available on their websites. If you offer CaliforniaChoice to your employees, it’s easy to look up doctors and specialists using the Provider Search tool at calchoice.com. You can search for a doctor by name, gender, city or ZIP Code, distance from home or work, affiliated health plan(s), hospital, or medical group, and language(s) spoken.


    Get Your Own Custom Quote

    If you want to learn more about EPOs, your employee benefits agent can help.