By: Steve Chucri
President of the Arizona Restaurant Association
The Arizona Restaurant Association recently took steps to offer our member businesses assistance when it comes to their health care needs. The Restaurant & Hospitality Association Benefit Trust is for restaurants with 2-99 eligible employees and offers over 120 different health plan designs. Additionally, we offer up to a 5 percent discount on fully insured manual medical rates for employers with 51 or more full-time employees, savings on administrative fees associated with medical products, and up to a 5 percent discount on fully insured dental, vision, life, disability, accident and critical illness benefit plans for all-size employers. The partnership also includes Wellness programs and services designed to help improve employee health, productivity and retention. These benefits are a small way we can help provide some ease among Arizona restaurants, their owners, and employees when it comes to health care. Furthermore, it allows us to take a proactive approach on an issue that is front and center today.
Restaurants have spent many years searching for affordable ways to provide health insurance coverage to their employees. Turnover in the restaurant industry is always high and providing health insurance plays a pivotal role in the ability to keep employees. Having an association health plan gives us the opportunity to band businesses together in order to achieve scale, and thus access large group insurance that other industries currently enjoy. Associated health plans are a relatively new opportunity, and one that would not be possible if drastic reforms like Medicare-for-all are enacted.
The Medicare-for-all and government-run healthcare movement remains a popular talking point for politicians in Washington, particularly among those running for President. These plans would be devastating to associated health plans, virtually eliminating them and every other private insurance health plan. Those employed in the restaurant industry are varied in age and have unique needs when it comes their health care. Implementing a one-size-fits-all policy and ripping away their personalized health care insurance would be harmful and irresponsible.
The Arizona restaurant and food service industry provide over 310,000 jobs in the state. That is 11% of the state’s employment. It is important that we be responsible when it comes the health and well-being of our restaurant owners and their employees. Supporting a government-run health care system that will not take their health needs into consideration, will raise their income tax, and create obstacle to seeing their doctors is not something that will benefit such a large sector of our state’s economy.