Blue Shield of California
COVID-19 Resource Center for Employers, Plan Sponsors, Brokers and Consultants

Small Businesses

November 18, 2020 - 4 min read

Supporting Small Business in 2020

At Blue Shield of California, we recognize there’s nothing small about running a small business.


For small business owners, 2020 has been filled with unprecedented challenges.

Mandatory closures and quarantine measures helped reduce the number of COVID-19 infections in the first part of the year. But the shock to the economy that followed has created the most difficult environment for small businesses in over a decade.

Blue Shield of California has launched a series of initiatives to assist and support business owners and their employees during this difficult time.

Premium relief and health coverage for furloughed employees

The economic fallout from COVID-19 has thrown small businesses and household budgets into crisis.

A recent study found that California companies with 50 employees or less (which employ one-third of California’s workers) have borne the brunt of the economic downturn. As of July 10, there were 14,100 businesses in California that did not plan to reopen again and another 15,300 that were temporarily closed, dealing a devastating blow to the state’s economy.

To help ease the financial burdens, Blue Shield of California provided more than $50 million in premium relief to customers confronting financial hardship brought on by the pandemic.

In addition, for members in group plans with employees that are working reduced schedules or were recently furloughed, Blue Shield of California has committed to extend employee health insurance protections from now until December 31, 2020.

COVID-19 cost-share waivers and virtual appointments

As the state rapidly approaches one million confirmed COVID-19 cases, Blue Shield of California will provide cost-share waivers to its members for the treatment of COVID-19 through December 31, 2020.

These cost-share waivers will cover all diagnostic testing and screening services for employees who are exhibiting coronavirus symptoms or have been exposed to individuals they believe may have coronavirus.

For those employees who are deeply concerned about spending time in an enclosed environment such as a hospital waiting room, there are options such as Blue Shield's Teladoc Virtual Health Care System.

In keeping with our commitment to supporting our clients and their employees, copays and co-insurance fees for the Teladoc Virtual Health Care System will be waived through December 31, 2020.

Digital resources for overcoming anxiety and depression   

Shelter in place orders, in combination with social distancing measures and the rise of remote work has left many individuals feeling isolated.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine found that nearly 30% of U.S. adults experienced extended periods of depression from January to April of this year. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 40% of U.S. Adults stated in a recent survey that they were struggling with their mental health and substance abuse during that same period.

To help support our employer group customers and their employees, Blue Shield of California offers no-cost emotional support programs. This includes Teladoc mental health services, provided at no cost to members through December 31, 2020. Teladoc offers safe and confidential consultations with mental health experts who embody our commitment to improving the lives of our members and delivering better health outcomes.

Safety strategies for business operations and $0 flu shots for employees

For small business owners in counties that permit employees to work onsite and comply with state guidelines, Blue Shield of California has developed a series of safety tips and strategies for businesses to use as they manage business operations.

Along with clear guidance on ways to make your workplace safe and healthy for employees and customers, you'll find information on how to establish policies for wearing masks and supporting employees with their mental health concerns.

Even if your staff remains offsite for the remainder of the year, we encourage you to inform all of your employees that Blue Shield of California now provides $0 cost flu shots throughout California.*

The resilience of California's small business owners and the dedication of their employees inspires us. Not just for one Saturday, but for every day, our members make us proud to support them.

*For most plans, members’ cost is $0, as a covered preventive care benefit under the Affordable Care Act. Some exceptions apply for select ASO groups. Contact your Blue Shield representative for more details.

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