California adopted a rule in 2014 that waiting periods for new employees to be eligible for health benefits could not exceed 60 days. The rule was recently rescinded, meaning California will now be in line with the federal rule established under Obamacare, which is a 90 day maximum waiting period.
There’s a catch, however. The rescission doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2015. Consequently, the 60 day waiting period will have to stay in effect for at least the current plan year, until the plan renews in 2015. It remains to be seen how the health care insurers in California will adapt to this change in 2015.
Employers should seek guidance from their health insurance broker during the renewal process, particularly if their plan has yet to renew in this calendar year. If the company decides to return to a 90 day waiting period in 2015, it is important to modify the employee handbook and summary plan descriptions to reflect the change.