Surprise: Restaurants in Fla., Calif. Charge Customers for Obamacare

February 27, 2014 - 5:38 PM

Some restaurants have made the decision to charge customers for Obamacare: Gator's Dockside restaurants in Florida have added a 1% Affordable Care Act surcharge on their diners' tabs, while at least one popular restaurant in Los Angeles has added a 3% charge to bills.

Restaurant Obamacare Surcharge

Gator's Restaurant Receipt Lists Obamacare Surcharge

In Florida, The Gator Group told CNNMoney that the company had to implement "the surcharge now because of the compliance costs it's facing ahead of the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate kicking in in 2015." So even though their employees won't get health insurance coverage until December, customers are feeling the pinch now.

The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors," the sign [in the restaurant] reads. "Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator's Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.

The Gator Group employs 500 people, half of whom work part-time. Right now, they only offer health benefits to management. Instead of cutting their full-time employees to part-time to avoid the mandate as so many restaurants have chosen, the Gator Group decided to simply charge customers the added costs.

"I'm just trying to keep the employees I have that I've worked hard to train," Sandra Clark, the group's director of operations told CNN Money:

In addition to the costs of providing health care, the company hired one additional staffer and a consulting firm to make sure it is complying with the law and to assist in the additional tracking of workers' hours and wages required by Obamacare.

In Los Angeles at the upscale restaurant Republique, customers have not always reacted positively to the ACA surcharge appearing on their bills.

One customer wrote: "1 star for the 3% healthcare surcharge. An employer who really cares about their employees' health pays for this themselves. But because you and I both know that I'm finically [sic] well off your [sic] going to mandate me to pay for what YOU think if a great idea? You might fool other customers into believing that you truly care about your employees health but your [sic] not fooling this customer."

So, companies are passing the costs of Obamacare on to the consumer. Economists totally did not see this coming.

The business and economic reporting of CNSNews.com is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.