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Health Insurance Plans for Restaurant Workers

Health Insurance Plans for Restaurant Workers

The restaurant industry employs millions of Americans

. These workers are more likely than most to be uninsured. There are several reasons for this.

First, many waiters, waitresses, hostesses, etc. earn minimum wage or less. It is difficult enough for employees earning $7 or $8 an hour to afford health insurance. A lot of states have a separate minimum server's wage that is slightly over $2 an hour. The remainder is expected to be covered through tips. While some working in upscale establishments receive high gratuities that sum up to far more than the minimum, the average server at a casual chain restaurant often suffers from a series of slow nights.

Most restaurants--like many small businesses--do not offer health coverage to their employees, due to the high cost and low margins.As a result, up to six million employees are uninsured at any given time. Some employees may be eligible for Medicaid due to their low pay (and healthcare reform will loosen those requirements), but the significant population of undocumented immigrants are not.

Fortunately, a high percentage of employees in this industry are young and relatively healthy. They are therefore an attractive population for health insurers; they become part of a larger risk pool that helps cover the older and sicker population. Their premiums can also be relatively low.

Restaurants in Pennsylvania are taking this advice to heart, establishing the Restaurant Health Care Alliance. The National Restaurant Association has partnered with United HealthCare to offer affordable health insurance plans to nearly half a million workers.

The state's governor, Ed Rendell, is fully supportive of this initiative. It will provide restaurant owners and employees alike with more coverage options, allowing for continued growth and job creation in the industry. For its part, United HealthCare's Northeast Region CEO vows to offer tailored Pennsylvania health insurance programs for restaurants.

Health Insurance Plans for Restaurant Workers

By: Yamileth Medina
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