Consumer Trends

Consumers OK with paying fees to insure workers, poll says

A handful of restaurants that took an early stand to defray health care costs by charging guests a surcharge may not be alone for long. New research by Bankrate finds that consumers are indeed willing to foot some of the bill for employees’ health care coverage at restaurants and other businesses.

According to the survey, about half (52 percent) of consumers would approve of paying a 25 cent health-insurance surcharge at their favorite spots; 38 percent disapprove. Still 16 percent of those who disapprove of such a fee would continue to patronize the establishment. The data also shows that younger people are more willing to pitch in, with 64 percent of people ages 18–29 approving of the surcharge.

Earlier this year, news reports shined a light on several restaurant operators explicitly charging customers for existing or future health care costs. République in Los Angeles added a message to the bottom of its menu when it opened in November 2013: “A voluntary 3 percent charge will be added to each guest check to ensure benefits for our entire staff, including the kitchen. Please adjust your gratuity as necessary and thank you!” Earlier this year, Gator’s Dockside, a Florida-based chain, began charging a 1 percent ACA surcharge “instead of raising prices” on the checks at eight of its locations, to offset the additional costs it’ll incur under the Affordable Care Act.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


At Papa Johns, delivery shifts from its own apps to aggregators

The Bottom Line: The pizza delivery chain’s business with companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash is thriving while its own delivery is slowing. But this isn’t the beginning of the end of self-delivery, CEO Rob Lynch says.


How the shift to counter service has changed Steak n Shake's profitability

The Bottom Line: Sardar Biglari, chairman of the chain’s owner Biglari Holdings, details how the addition of kiosks and counter service has transformed restaurants.


Grand Geneva Resort & Spa's 'Ouisconsin' croissants reflect the state's French legacy

Behind the Menu: Hyper-local Wisconsin ingredients and a three-day baking process turn out pastries that are in high demand by hotel guests.


More from our partners