Employee health benefits aren’t just a nice perk anymore. They’re the key to finding and keeping high-quality employees — especially in a competitive market like San Francisco.
According to MetLife’s 2022 Employee Benefit Trends Study, 51% of employees would stay longer at their current employer if they had access to a comprehensive benefits package.
But striking a balance between your small business’s budget and your employees’ wants can be tricky, particularly with the rising cost of health insurance.
So to make your job a little easier, we’ve put together our list of the best health insurance companies in San Francisco for small businesses, plus a few tips to help you choose the one that’s right for you.
Let’s get started:
Are Employers Required To Offer Health Insurance in San Francisco?
How To Choose a Health Insurance Company in San Francisco
Health Plan Budget
Network of Providers and Facilities
Employees’ Needs and Preferences
The Top Health Insurance Companies in San Francisco
2. Kaiser Permanente
3. Blue Shield
5. Anthem Blue Cross
6. Health Net
A Modern Solution To Finding Health Insurance in San Francisco
Final Words: Best Health Insurance Companies Serving San Francisco Residents
As a small business operating in the San Francisco Bay Area, are you required by law to provide health benefits to your employees?
It all comes down to the size of your team. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), if your company has 50 or more full-time employees, you’re required to provide health insurance or risk getting hit with financial penalties.
On the flip side, if you have less than 50 employees, offering health insurance is up to you.
That said, offering a competitive health insurance plan (and other fringe benefits) is a great way to attract and retain top talent.
Before we dive into the best health insurance companies in San Francisco, here are some considerations to help you find the perfect fit for your business and employees.
As you begin your search for employer health insurance, it’s essential that you evaluate how much your company can realistically afford.
All too often, small businesses overextend themselves in the beginning and then have to scale back on health benefits, upsetting their employees and their bottom line.
So what’s considered average for a company to pay?
According to a 2022 survey by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), employer-sponsored health insurance has an average annual premium cost of $7,911 for single coverage and $22,463 for families.
While these numbers may seem high, keep in mind that there are a number of more affordable options out there, such as low-premium, high-deductible HMO plans.
Discussing your options with an insurance agent is an excellent way to find insurance coverage that makes sense for your business’s current situation.
The healthcare benefits you offer your employees are one thing. Whether your employees can access those benefits is another.
As you set up a healthcare plan for them, make sure the medical providers, insurance carriers, and facilities covered by the plan are located close to everyone on your team, especially if they work remotely.
Your employees’ health is too important to leave in the hands of an insurance company with subpar customer support.
If one of your employees faces a health issue and struggles to find information on approved medical providers due to unresponsive customer service, it can lead to increased stress, especially when combined with a slow and frustrating claims process.
Poor customer service can diminish employees’ trust in both the healthcare provider and the employer that chose the company and the plan.
Before deciding on a healthcare provider, make sure to read online reviews and testimonials. You can also ask for recommendations from other business owners or HR professionals.
It’s important to consider what services your employees will value most when deciding on a health insurance plan.
What’s the point of spending so much on it, after all, if your employees don’t end up taking advantage of the benefits?
Depending on the makeup of your workforce, you’ll want to consider a variety of different health insurance plan perks and features, such as preventive care, mental health services, medical services, wellness programs, and long-term care.
Now that you know what to keep in mind when searching for a provider, it’s time to go over the top six health insurance companies in San Francisco.
Oscar Health, a tech-based health insurance company founded in 2012, has impressively become the third-largest for-profit national insurer in the U.S. individual market.
Thanks to Oscar’s partnership with Cigna, the healthcare company is able to provide you with a wider choice of medical providers and a solid lineup of insurance plans, all wrapped up with user-friendly tech and a hassle-free experience.
Add to the mix Oscar’s 24/7 virtual care and free copays, and your team can receive the care they need anytime and anywhere.
Beyond physical health, Oscar Health also offers mental health support and behavioral coaching — making it a smart choice for employers looking to invest in their workforce's overall well-being.
Kaiser Permanente operates in eight states (including California) and is the largest managed-care organization in the United States.
The company does many things to make the lives of employers easier. For starters, it offers online tools so employers can easily compare plans and rates and manage members and payments. This means less time devoted to paperwork and more time building your business.
The healthcare provider also offers a variety of plan options, including copayment HMO plans, deductible HMO plans, and HRA and HSA-qualified plans.
Kaiser’s holistic approach to preventive care helps maintain employee wellness and reduces long-term healthcare costs, as well as fosters a healthier, more productive workforce.
If you're looking for comprehensive and affordable healthcare options for your employees, you can’t go wrong with Blue Shield of California.
This insurance company offers a good mix of plans, such as HMO, PPO, and the unique Trio HMO.
The Trio HMO plan features a select network of local providers that work together to provide a personalized healthcare experience for employees. It also doesn’t hurt that concierge support is available for extra assistance.
Blue Shield also offers the no-extra-cost Wellvolution suite of total health programs, focusing on lifestyle-based approaches to wellness like the Walk-a-Dew step goals, Diabetes Prevention Program, and QuitNet for quitting smoking.
If that wasn’t good enough, Blue Shield also has plans that offer some fantastic discounts on wellness services like gym memberships, weight loss assistance, and acupuncture.
CCHP offers a diverse selection of health benefits packages suitable for small and large companies alike.
With preventive services, corporate wellness programs, and a network of over 7,000 healthcare providers throughout California, CCHP ensures that your employees have access to top-notch care and resources to maintain their well-being while keeping costs under control.
Many of CCHP’s partners offer telehealth, making it easier for busy employees to receive medical advice, diagnoses, or even treatment plans without the need for in-person visits.
The healthcare company is also under contract with multiple urgent care clinics, which can help avoid unnecessary ER visits and further reduce expenses.
Anthem offers a wide range of plan options, like PPO, HMO, POS, and high-deductible health plans, meaning there's something for every business size and budget.
Depending on your plan type, your team could have access to most of Anthem’s sizable network, which includes 95% of doctors and 96% of hospitals in the U.S. This large network is especially beneficial for teams that are spread across the country.
The company offers Sydney Health, a mobile app that enables employees to access their health plan 24/7, no matter their location. Employers also get to manage plans and benefits themselves, thanks to the EmployerAccess tool.
Interested in offering more than just medical insurance? Anthem has additional coverage types like dental, vision, life, and disability plans.
Not to mention Anthem’s focus on whole-person care, with health and wellness programs, behavioral health support, and an Employee Assistance Program to help your team thrive.
With over 40 years in the insurance industry and providing coverage to more than three million Californians, Health Net knows a thing or two about health insurance.
It has plans with networks and insurance products that cater to different budgets, so you can find an affordable plan without missing out on quality healthcare.
Health Net is also dedicated to preventive care, offering wellness exams, telehealth, mental health services, immunizations, and more to give your team peace of mind.
As you can see, finding a health insurance company that addresses the unique needs of your business and employees can be overwhelming.
From deciding between an HMO and PPO plan to determining which additional wellness benefits make the most financial sense, it can be daunting trying to design a health insurance package on your own.
This is where Pebble comes in — a modern alternative to traditional health insurance brokers.
Pebble offers custom benefits packages tailored to your business, helping you save around 20% while keeping the needs of your employees front and center.
Its dedicated team helps take the burden of health insurance off of your HR department by seamlessly onboarding employees, managing payroll deductions, and handling paperwork like ACA and COBRA.
That translates to less admin work for you and more savings for your employees.
Ultimately, Pebble helps small companies and startups gain access to the types of insurance coverage previously reserved for larger corporations.
Providing your employees with the health insurance they deserve is not only ethical, but it’s also an effective way to woo and retain top workers.
Plus, investing in your employees’ well-being and peace of mind is a great way to get them to be just as invested in your company’s vision.
There are a number of stellar health insurance companies in the San Francisco Bay area for your small business to choose from.
But knowing which insurer and plan makes the most sense for your situation can be difficult, and it’s easy to overextend yourself financially.
The best way to find affordable health coverage in San Francisco is to partner with an industry expert like Pebble.
Pebble’s optimized packages and nationwide coverage can help you find quality healthcare for your employees without stretching your budget.
Contact Pebble today to get started on providing your employees with thoughtfully designed, hassle-free healthcare.