Deals Brighten Restaurant Workers’ Prospects For Health InsuranceTribune Newspapers/Chicago Tribune reports that a new partnership between UnitedHealth Group Inc. and the National Restaurant Association aims "to make coverage more accessible to millions of restaurant workers without health benefits, three years ahead of when the health care overhaul would require everyone to have insurance."
"The initiative, though limited at the outset, marks one of the largest private-sector efforts to expand health insurance coverage. And its architects said it ultimately could help cover the 4 million to 6 million restaurant employees without health benefits, or about 10 percent of the nation's current population of uninsured. The company, however, still could retain the right to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, at least until 2014." The restaurant industry has one of the lowest rates of insurance for employees (Levey and Hamburger, 5/20).
Last year, the Nevada Restaurant Association "set up a benefits program for its members," according to the Las Vegas Sun. It includes a "qualified plan" insurance option for workers that could "save members $1 an hour on each minimum-wage employee working at least 20 hours a week. In Nevada, the minimum wage is $7.55 an hour, but employers can pay $7.25 an hour if they offer health insurance. That's because the federal minimum wage stands at $7.25, and states are required to pay the higher amount. So that's only a savings of 30 cents per hour, per employee when insurance is offered." But on July 1, Nevada's "minimum wage will increase 70 cents to $8.25 an hour. Employers that provide insurance could pay $7.25 an hour - a realized savings of $1" (Langrell, 5/21). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.