SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— California’s health insurance exchange not only will allow individuals to shop for health insurance plans, but small businesses as well.

Traditionally, businesses with 50 employees or fewer often pick one plan from one insurance company for their workers, but that’s changing with Covered California, the state’s new health insurance exchange.

“Small business owners come to us. You pick the benefit level you want and let your employees pick any plan that we’re offering,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee.

Consumers can pick from a variety of options including; Kaiser, Blue Shield, Health Net, and the Chinese Community Health Plan.

Covered California said this gives the employees more choices.

“It’s a consumer-based choice program that the employee is steering, but the employer is not telling each employee what’s right for them,” Lee said.

He added that Covered California also can serve as an avenue for small businesses to get tax credits to lower their costs of providing health insurance and that they’re working with licensed insurance agents who can help small businesses find insurance through the health care exchange.

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