Tags: Healthcare Reform | Obamacare | restaurants | surcharge | healthcare | high-end | fancy

Not-Too-Happy Meal: Diners Miffed Over Obamacare Surcharges

By    |   Tuesday, 07 October 2014 10:49 AM

Next time you eat out at a fancy restaurant, don't be surprised if, at the end of your meal, you spot an unfamiliar item on your tab — a surcharge to pay for Obamacare.

Diners at high-end restaurants such as Melisse, AOC, and a dozen others in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas have noticed a 3 percent surcharge for employee healthcare tacked on to their bills, and the Los Angeles Times reports that some of the customers are none too happy about it.

One diner complained in an online blog, "It's basically management saying 'Obamacare made me do it.' If you want to offset costs, try turning up the thermostat. There's your 3%! Now please pay your workers' health insurance and hush."

Better get used to it. "Once it starts you are going to see other segments in the industry, whether coffee shops or ice cream shops, dip their toe in if they see it's manageable and customers do not revolt," Jot Condie of the California Restaurant Association told the Times.

Josh Loeb, co-owner of Milo & Olive and Rustic Canyon, told the Times, "We want our staff to have healthcare. It's not because we support Obama or don't support Obama, or are Democrats or are not Democrats."

Restaurants have considered increasing the price of menu items to pay the cost of providing healthcare, but this would not take into account rent and liability insurance, which would require increasing menu costs by more than 3 percent to make the same amount of money as a simple surcharge.

Even some restaurants with fewer than 50 full-time employees, the cutoff for mandatory health insurance under Obamacare, are levying the surcharge to give their employees healthcare.

The cost of providing healthcare under Obamacare is skyrocketing for employers, recent studies have discovered, and many employers are responding by cutting salaries, cutting staff or replacing full-time employees with part-time employees.

A study by the American Health Policy Institute found that while health insurance generally is on the rise, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) "imposes additional costs of $4,800 to $5,900 per employee over the course of a decade. The total cost of the Affordable Care Act to all large U.S. employers over the next 10 years is estimated to be from $157 billion to $186 billion.

"As a result, employers are coping with the high costs of providing healthcare in a number of ways, including changing their employment practices and work-related financial arrangements."

The American Action Forum noted, "ACA has fundamentally changed the healthcare landscape, affecting premiums, small business wages, and employment," estimating the costs so far at $22.6 billion in lost income and 350,000 small business jobs. "We expect this trend to strengthen as the administration fully implements the employer mandate."

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Next time you eat out at a fancy restaurant, don't be surprised if, at the end of your meal, you spot an unfamiliar item on your tab — a surcharge to pay for Obamacare.
Obamacare, restaurants, surcharge, healthcare, high-end, fancy
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 10:49 AM
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