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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.

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