Obamacare adds another tip to the dinner bill

Figuring out the tip next time you dine out may include, along with the usual percentage decision, whether or not to contribute to your wait person’s health insurance cost. But restaurants that are asking customers to pay extra to cover employee insurance may find themselves cross-ways with consumer protection cops.

The restaurant industry has been among the loudest opponents to sections of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that require employers to provide coverage for certain employees under certain conditions. The industry has traditionally sought extra help from customers to pay those who bring them their food and drinks. Now, some restaurants are boldly soliciting extra fees from diners that, they claim, will be earmarked for employee health insurance.

That can be a dangerous practice, advised attorney Carolyn D. Richmond in a Law360 article. Richmond said she expects state consumer protection agencies to scrutinize such surcharges

Richmond, who specializes in retail law, said she’s been receiving inquiries from clients about how to handle the costs they will incur as a result of Obamacare. While she’s discouraging the use of the surcharge directly related to health reform, she believes other ways exist to help restaurants adopt.

“I think as the months go by we’ll see a lot of entrepreneurial approaches to solving the crisis,” Richmond said.

Perhaps she’ll be hearing from Gator’s Dockside franchisees in Florida or the owners of Republique in Los Angeles.

Both were cited in a February CNN Money article on health insurance-driven restaurant surcharges. The two restaurants have openly solicited specific percentages from customers so workers can have health coverage.

In Florida, CNN found that certain Gator’s Dockside Restaurants were adding a percent to customers’ bills so that Gator’s could comply with the tenets of health care reform

“The Gator Group’s full-time hourly employees won’t actually receive health insurance until December,” CNN reported. “But the company said it implemented the surcharge now because of the compliance costs it’s facing ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate kicking in in 2015.

One Gators restaurant, according to the report, posted a sign on its door reading: “The costs associated with PPACA compliance could ultimately close our doors. 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 percent surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.”

Republique, a new L.A. bistro opened in November, unveiled “an optional 3 percent surcharge that allows it to employ all of its 80 workers full-time and provide them with health insurance. The fee is explained in a sign and on the menu, and servers explain it to diners without prompting,” CNN said.

However, Republique specifically noted that “the surcharge is not related to Obamacare.”

“The eatery is not subject to the employer mandate until 2016 because it has fewer than 100 workers, but it already offers coverage to its staff,” CNN said.

So far, the restaurant told CNN, most customers have paid the fee.

What Kind Of Help Is Available To Reduce The Cost Of Health Insurance? 

Starting in 2014, individuals seeking health coverage will be helped to afford coverage in three ways:

1. PREMIUM ASSISTANCE – Available to individuals and families who meet certain income requirements and do not have health insurance from an employer or government program. For more information, give us a call at 888-524-5502.

2. COST-SHARING SUBSIDIES – These reduce the amount of out-of-pocket health care expenses. To find out more, contact us at 888-524-5502. 

3. MEDI-CAL ASSISTANCE – Medicaid program (Medi-Cal in California) will be expanded to cover people under age 65, including people with disabilities, or those with incomes of less than $15,856 for a single individual and $32,499 for a family of four. The coverage is free for those who qualify and is part of the provisions of the #Affordable Care Act. 

For information on any of these programs or for signing up for health insurance, contact us at 888-524-5502 or visit http://health.insuresphere.com/

REMEMBER, you have until FEBRUARY 15, 2014 to sign up for health insurance without being penalized for each month of being uninsured.Image

Good morning and happy Monday from InsureSphere! Did you know, starting your morning right will ensure a fantastic and productive day ahead?

Did you know, starting your morning right will ensure a fantastic and productive day ahead? 



The alarm sounds and you’re off: Onto checking emails, finding car keys and, if you’re lucky, brushing your hair.

The madness, the rush of it all — it’s got to stop. Adding intention into your morning routine is in your best interest: It sets the tone for the rest of your day, and may ultimately reflect how productive, happy and calm you’ll be for your following waking hours.

You have the power to wake up on the right side of the bed every single morning for the rest of your life.

“If the first thing you do in the morning isn’t 100 percent for you, selfishly, then the rest of your day will be spent not doing anything for you,” writes Micah Baldwin, founder and CEO of Graphicly. “Find something that is yours, and yours alone,” Baldwin advises. He personally sets two alarms separated by 30 minutes and gets out of bed at the sound of the second. The ritual has him appreciating sleep.

Take a cue from Baldwin. There are several things you can do, without leaving your bed, that’ll ensure a fantastic day ahead. So before you roll out of the comfort of your warm, cozy nest, consider these eight rituals below.

Don’t reach for that phone.
These days, we’re programmed to check our phones for emails and messages the minute that very device goes off to wake us. In fact, 63 percent of smartphone users age 18-29 admit to taking a cell phone, smartphone or tablet to bed with them at night (meaning, it’s just as easy to find in the morning).

Innocently checking your inbox first thing may put a damper on the rest of your day: This plays into the idea of starting your first minutes with something selfish and just for you. If you’re checking your email, you’re working to respond to someone else’s needs, without first acknowledging your own.

To remedy, buy yourself a good, old-fashioned alarm clock and keep your phone in the other room while you sleep — you won’t be tempted to reach for it.

Visualize your wonderful day ahead.
Thoughts be come things. There is power to visualization: . Simply picture yourself accomplishing your goals for the day in stride, and you’ll be closer to doing so. For years, athletes have used this trick to see themselves through to the finish line, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same.

Just stretch.
There is nothing — nothing — like an enormous arm stretch first thing in the morning, accompanied by a bear-esque yawn. It just feels so good. Even better, greeting the day with a great, big stretch can actually help to wake you up: The act works to increase your flexibility, improves circulation and relieves tension.

Take it a little further with some bed-friendly yoga.
Yep — you can sneak in some om without rolling out your yoga mat. The bed is just the perfect place to do a few particular moves — like a reclining goddess pose or a forward bend. “Yoga is a great way to unwind from stress or greet the day,” Vyda Bielkus told The Huffington PostFind 9 poses you can do straight from the sac here.

Mentally list three things for which you’re grateful.
One of the greatest things about gratitude — besides the fact that it can boost your mood, increase your energy levels and amplify your resilience — is that you can practice it anywhere. Even groggily, your day will benefit from some positive thinking first thing.

Practice a bit of meditation.
You needn’t sit for hours surrounded by candles to reap the great benefits of mindfulness meditation. A daily practice of just 15-minutes of meditation has been shown to increase productivity, relieve stress and boost happiness. Gives your usual rushed cup of coffee a run for its money, no? While you wake, practice being present just where you are. New to meditation? Find Andy Puddicombe’s simple, 10-step guide for beginners here.

Journal, why don’t you?
Whether you decide to jot down your dreams from the night before, your goals for the day to come or scattered thoughts is up to you: The physical act of writing with a pen may get your creative juices flowing. Virginia Berninger, professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, explains that the act stimulates a much larger portion of the brain’s thinking and “working memory” regions than does typing. And a little hand-scribbling also might offer a little relief if you’re in the routine of typing on keys all day long.

Wake up to your favorite song.
That special tune that makes you feel on top of the world? Let it be the soundtrack of day. Listening to the right, happy beat can enhance your emotional state.