Last week’s post about Darden and restaurant server health insurance led to many interesting conversations this week. In perusing different sites the article was shared on, I noticed a strong undertone of hostility towards the idea that employers should provide health insurance. In other cases people were upset at the notion of the government subsidizing health insurance. Without exception, every person I talked to this week how was insured (and was not a server) has their health insurance subsidized by their employer, the government, or both. I am certainly not asking for special treatment for restaurant servers. I am simply contending that servers are deprived of the advantages enjoyed by every other occupation.
Most full time employees in the professional world have at least a portion of their health care subsidized by their employer. All have their health insurance subsidized by the government by being allowed to pay for their insurance in pre tax income. Restaurant servers do not recieve this subsidy because in most states their hourly wages are so low that they have no pre-tax income. In this way servers are more comparable to the self-employed or independent contractors. Those groups are allowed to take an “above the line” tax deduction for their health insurance costs. The federal minimum wage for servers is $2.13 and hour. A wage that vitually insures they will not have enough pre-tax income to pay their premiums, but also enough to deny them the health insurance benefits of the self-employed.
The disadvantages servers face do not end there. The incredibly poor health insurance plans offered (with no employer contribution) at major restaurant chains are also wrought with pitfalls. To give a full explanation of how difficult it is for servers to obtain health insurance, I have detailed each of these challenges in today’s post. Starting with the lack of pre-tax income and concluding with the serious public health consequences. This is new information for most of the people I have explained it to since the post came out. It should serve as a great resource in explaining the reason most restaurant servers are uninsured.