Health care on the side

Restaurants in L.A. are adding surcharge to bills to cover health insurance

Some restaurants in Southern California have begun adding a 3 percent surcharge to bills to cover the cost of employees’ health insurance, a trend that has emerged elsewhere in the state (in San Francisco, for one).

A restaurant in Los Angeles first introduced the surcharge in late 2013 and more than a dozen eateries in the area have since followed suit, according to California Healthline. Owners of those restaurants maintain the surcharge is the only way they can offer health insurance to their workers and remain profitable. Meanwhile, other restaurants are considering implementing an all-inclusive service charge that would replace tips and help cover the cost of insurance.

Jot Condie, CEO of the California Restaurant Association, said the latter option is more likely to catch on statewide. “Once it starts, you’re going to see other segments in the industry … dip their toe in, if they see it’s manageable and customers do not revolt,” he said.