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State opens insurance exchange for small business

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- California has opened an online insurance exchange for small business, with questions looming about how many employers will sign up and whether rates could climb.

The program that's part of the national health overhaul was launched formally Monday, two months behind the state-run exchange for individuals and families, known as Covered California.

It's voluntary _ companies with up to 50 full-time workers are not required to provide insurance for workers.

Officials say the site will offer affordable choices to small businesses that want to offer attractive compensation packages, including health care.

It's not clear how many will sign up, because employers can tell workers to find insurance through the Covered California site for individuals.

Some owners could qualify for tax credits.

Coverage would begin in January.

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