Needless to say, reading this story in the L.A. Times pissed me off enormously:
I had breakfast at Republique on La Brea Avenue on Tuesday, and here’s how the tab broke down:
Cafe Americano — $3.25
Quiche — $5
Tax — 0.77
Surcharge Healthy LA — 0.25
The last item is the one creating a little controversy at the new high-end restaurant in the old Campanile space. The owners are adding a 3% fee to every bill, which they say will pay for healthcare insurance for all their employees, from hostesses and bartenders to dishwashers and potato peelers.
As an employer of 80 people, Republique is going to have to either chip in for their employees Health Insurance, or kick in a $2000 fee per employee. This is known as the “Free Rider charge”, it’s to prevent folks like the Owners at Republique taking advantage of the rest of us who followed the rules, got covered, thereby putting the cost burdens of their uninsured employees on those with coverage.
Now, in order to cover the costs of giving their employees Coverage, they stick the 3% surcharge on all their bills.
There’s another term for this: gaming the system.
Guess what Republique? I’m already paying to get your Employees insured. That’s the beauty of the Affordable Care Act. It provides Federal Taxpayer money (the “I’m already paying” part of the equation) to help your Cooks, Dishwashers and Waitstaff buy and more importantly afford Health Insurance on the Covered California Exchange.
But wait there’s more:
Republique servers can make as much as $70,000 to $80,000 a year, which is terrific, Manzke said. But it’s roughly three times as much as other full-time staff, including cooks and food preppers.
Just to give you the math of how a subsidy works with the Affordable Care Act, if these Servers are actually making $80,000, and supporting a family on it, they’ll get subsidies.
If they’re single and pulling in $80,000 waiting tables, then they don’t need subsidies. They can afford Coverage on their own, they don’t need my help.
Odds are the rest of Republique’s full time staff, the Cooks and the Food Preppers, etc. all need Subsidies to afford Insurance.
The trick is to get them the money that we the taxpayers have already provided. To do that, the Republique employees need to go on our local California Health Insurance Exchange, aka Covered California.
So, are these Employees going to Covered California?
Apparently not, according to the Times.
“We will absolutely pay for healthcare,” said Chait, who is offering employees three Kaiser options, two that require employee contributions and one that doesn’t. And he said he’s already looking into offering similar plans to employees of other local restaurants he owns.
So, while the Federal Government is our Tax Dollars to help get Health Insurance for the Uninsured, keeping the costs for them individually between 2.5% and 9.5% of their total income, idiot Bill Chait thinks he got a better deal on his own, and then sticks us with a 3% charge on top of the meal.
Oh, and there’s this…this is my favorite moment of blithe ignorance:
I spoke to three Republique employees who were thrilled to have a medical plan in an industry that generally doesn’t provide one. Think about that for a moment — do you really want the people handling and serving your food to not have health insurance?
How do I put this gently?
There is an mandate for Health Insurance Coverage. Everyone now has to buy it. If everyone has Insurance, then the risk is spread out, and costs are kept down. This is what is known as “Skin in the game”.
The notion that there will be Food Servers out there without Health Insurance? They’re about to go the way of the Dinosaur.
Granted, Servers can skip out on Coverage, or their Employers can try to “Free Ride” (as noted above)…but whoever does that is gonna get hit with a Financial penalty ($2000 per Employee for Employers, $695 per person or %2.5 of total income for individuals).
Again, everyone must have some kind of skin the Insurance Game in order to keep costs from skyrocketing. If everyone is covered, then there is no one coming into the Emergency Room for primary care, which is also the most expensive care. Now, we may never get to a point where 100% of people are covered, but if we can get the Uninsured number as low as possible, we can really cut costs.
Of course, this only works if people aren’t “gaming” the system.
Guess what? Bill Chait of Republique is gaming the system.
I’m sorry, but 50 employees and under is a small business. You got to draw the line somewhere. Businesses with 25 Employees and under are actually going to get Federal Tax dollars to help pay for their employees coverage. Bill Chait’s got 80 Employees. Republique’s no longer a small business, who needs the help. Republique can afford to insure his people.
If he can’t…well, it does make you wonder why the hell he isn’t sending his people to Covered California, where the State uses the collective bargaining power of all California’s populace to negotiate better rates.
Oh, and since Chait negotiated this deal himself, his employees get exactly one choice for Coverage. With Covered California, they could look at ACA compliant plans (those are plans that cover everything, especially preventative care) from every company in California. They may still choose Kaiser (like I have), but they’d have their own choice in the matter, not Bill Chait’s.
Odds are, he got a letter from Kaiser offering a quote-unquote “Better deal” if he didn’t go on the Exchange, but as a result cut himself and his employees off from the cost savings and subsidies built into the law.
Then, he has the nerve to charge me 3% extra on top of it.
I will never darken Republiques door, and I encourage you to do the same.