By Kathy Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health’s HMO poised to grow by joining small-biz insurance exchange

Sutter Health has signed a contract to offer its HMO in the private insurance exchange CaliforniaChoice as early as December.

The deal with the exchange for private-sector small employers still needs final approval by state regulators.

If approved, the move offers Sutter Health Plus a new forum to expand enrollment among small-business owners. It gives CalChoice traction to gain membership in Northern California — and it adds another plan to a private-sector competitor with Covered California.

“We want to get it done,” health plan CEO Steve Nolte said. “We think it’s a good fit for us.”A Southern California-based private exchange, CalChoice has about 12,700 employers in its program and 220,000 members.

“We believe in the Sutter model in terms of brand and we’ll help them maintain that,” said Ron Goldstein, president and CEO at Choice Administrators, which runs CalChoice. “It’s a very good fit for us. We were like them 19 years ago and know what its like to start from scratch.”

Launched in January 2014, Sutter Health Plus is available in nine counties in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. The plan has applied to the state Department of Managed Health Care to expand coverage to the Bay Area in time for enrollment in 2016.

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