California governor Jerry Brown just signed Senate Bill 1034 into law today, effectively increasing the maximum waiting period for group health insurance coverage from 60 to 90 days. The new law prohibits insurers and HMOs from imposing any waiting periods on group health plans. Plan sponsors in California will now be free to adopt the 90 day ACA compliant waiting period in their plan designs, which could provide administrative relief for multi-state employers.
The new legislation affects both small and large group health plans, regardless of grandfather status, for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2015.
This change adds another small piece to the puzzle for sponsors of employee health plans in California as they begin planning their next benefit renewal, and for large employers in particular, who will need to comply with the employer shared responsibility mandate next year to avoid being assessed "pay-or-play" penalties.
It should be noted that neither the ACA or the new California law requires a waiting period of any length and only prescribe the maximum allowable waiting period. The full text of the legislation and the senate analysis may be read here.