During dinner time in Tampa, you order the entree, buy the wine and leave the tip. What if you had an extra five percent to pay? Healthcare reform will bring medical benefits to the waitstaff at most restaurants. However, it comes with an expense to the owner.
They're going to have to recover that cost somewhere. It could be by cutting employees or it could be with a new charge to anyone who goes out to eat.
It could be the new normal.
A Florida restaurateur with 40 Denny's across the region plans to add five percent to every bill to cover company costs for providing employee health benefits from Obamacare.
Tampa restaurateur Jason Fernandez says every establishment will have to do something to make ends meet.
"Is it best to reduce the number of employees or is it better to reduce the hours of each employee. We don't know," Fernandez said.
This type of decision affects three types of people: business owners, employees and customers. Fernandez finds the new cost debilitating.
"Five dollars to a check isn't going to touch the tip of the barrel of what the cost their talking about. As much as I would love everyone to have health insurance, I believe it's an unrealistic accomplishment," he said.
Angel Bailey is a mom and a waitress who is thrilled at the prospect of company-covered health care. She's worried her employer may find a way around providing benefits.
"You have to work over 30 hours or better to get the health care," Bailey said.
Some restaurants may cut shifts to avoid paying.
"I still have bills so now I have to get a second job just to maintain and do what I have to do so hopefully it will work out for me," she said.
But how will it all work out for customers, like Barbara Rumberger?
"I certainly am a believer in health care. I am a health care provider and I do feel the need for people to be insured," she said.
To her, a health care fee on her bill could be acceptable.
"If I saw a reasonable addition to my tab I would be in favor of it," she said.
Under the current law, employers with more than 50 full-time workers will be charged a penalty if they have more than 30 full-time staffers who are not covered. The owner of those Denny's franchises says for him, that totals $70,000 per restaurant, if he doesn't make changes.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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