A Florida group that that manages several restaurants is already banking money for when the Obamacare employer mandate takes effect in 2015, and is charging customers a 1 percent surcharge on food and drinks.
Currently only management employees of the eight Gator’s Dockside restaurants receive health insurance, but starting in December, in order to comply with the employer mandate, about 250 full-time employees will also receive health insurance, according to CNN Money.
Sandra Clark, director of operations for the Gator Group that manages the restaurants, “is not sure how much the company is spending on compliance, but estimates that it will cost $500,000 a year to extend insurance to its full-time hourly restaurant workers,” CNN Money reported. “The surcharge may bring in about $160,000 a year, she hopes.”
Gator’s Dockside isn’t the first restaurant to start charging an Obamacare fee. A Los Angeles restaurant has also implemented a surcharge.
Gator’s Dockside could choose to not give full-time employees coverage even once the mandate kicks in, and pay a fine. Or the chain could reduce its current full-time employees’ hours, so that they only work part-time – and thus don’t qualify for health coverage under the employee mandate.
But as the surcharge shows, Obamacare is no free lunch. Most businesses probably won’t opt to add a specific surcharge in order to cover their new health care costs, but some will certainly raise prices – or reduce quality of their products. Obamacare hasn’t driven down the costs of health insurance, or found a magical new source to cover those costs.