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Apr 15, 2008 06:17 AM

Tip, Tax,...and Health Insurance Surcharge?

From NY Daily News on a new plan in San Francisco that requires employers with 20 or more employees to provide insurance for each of their workers:

"Those costs are especially hard for small businesses to absorb. A growing handful of San Francisco restaurants are responding to the city's new health plan by adding a health care surcharge of about $3 to $4 to every bill.

"Food, drinks, tax, tip and ... health care. Restaurant owners taking part in this creative approach say they have little choice; it's the only feasible way they can afford to follow the law and keep their doors open. For the most part, they claim, customers don't mind."

What do you think about this? How would you react if you saw this added to your tab?

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  1. i would love it. As long as there is a mechanism to make sure the surcharge actually went to the employees' healthcare plans.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hala

      Yeah... it should just become an official Luxury Tax collected by the City... which would offer a choice of 10 competing plans etc.,

      1. From NY daily News, as quoted by gloriousfood:
        "Restaurant owners taking part in this creative approach say they have little choice; it's the only feasible way they can afford to follow the law and keep their doors open."

        I think that the above is not the only feasible way they can follow the law and keep their doors open. The restaurants should be able to charge more per plate. They should cost the health care surcharge into the price of the meal. As for the "the high prices would drive customers away" argument, if all the restaurants were doing it, they would all go up a similar amount.

        Out of curiousity, does anyone know what fast food-type places are doing? Because if there was a $3 surcharge "for health benefits for employees" on my $6 order, I'd be livid. How about the movie theatre concession? Are they doing it there? Does the plan in SF stipulate that the workers must be full-time?

        Being from a slightly more socialist environment than the US (I'm Canadian), I have a different view on health care in general. I have never been afraid to go to a doctor's or a hospital because I thought I couldn't pay the bill. While I think that everyone should have access to health care, I just don't think that charging customers directly is the way to do it. I would simply rather not know.

        1 Reply
        1. re: miss_bennet

          I just don't think it should be a matter of "personal choice" by any given taxpayer The inherent paternalism in that, where something like healthcare is concerrned, is just too much for me. Whether any particular person/group should or should not have healthcare shouldn't depend on the day-to-day actions of individuals, imnsho, which is how a voluntary surcharge at random businesses plays out.

          But the whole "cost of doing business" thing is a red herring, as I see it. It irks me too, but the bottom line is the total price - what do you get for what you pay? They can calculate it any way they like but "the price" is the bottom line, not the portion of the total they choose to call by that name, legally mandatory regulated charges/collections being a separate category of course largely because they are more uniformly applied. And there, I would much rather know why I'm being charged what I'm being charged.

        2. It's terrific. Next, they can add their FICA contribution, unemployment tax, electricity surcharge and so on.

          Why should a business have to pay a cost of doing business?

          1. I live in the San Francisco area. This charge shows up added to the bill and noted, or they just raise their prices. I prefer the last one. The restaurants have to pay it, how they get the money is not dictated.