|Courtesy of Sarah Wong
The International Examiner
wrote an interesting article about the struggles of getting insurance. Many of us freelance earners – or low wage earners – know that it’s challenging to obtain affordable insurance. I’m fortunate that Josh’s insurance can cover me while I’m in school and freelance writing (thus not really making money). Restaurant employees are hit particularly hard, because restaurant owners often only pay minimal wages as it is, and they have high overhead costs with perishable food, facilities, and labor.
In the International District, Seattle’s neighborhood that boasts immigrants from all sorts of regions, including many Asian countries, you can find some of the most ethnically diverse and cheapest food. Unfortunately, that can also mean you can find some of the lowest wages, too.
Most restaurants, according to Dean Wong, the author of “Uninsured Restaurant Workers,” never provide insurance because the businesses are so small. This presents a problem, because workers can become injured. The International Community Health Services office provides assistance for uninsured or underinsured patience to obtain health care. Although records aren’t kept, it’s possible that many of the patients are food service workers who do not have insurnace plans through their employers.
As a student in culinary arts and a potential future business owner, it makes me wonder about how a business can survive when the business must incur multiple costs. Labor costs are high in any business, and it is important that we entrepreneurs pay our staff fair wages (an element of building a sustainable business that contributes to its community). It’s also necessary for the business to be profitable in order to be in business.
How do businesses do it? Are corners cut somewhere else? Or are their prices set so that they can cover those costs, too? How much of an insurance premium should the business cover, and how much should be the employee’s responsibility? I suppose if we really knew the answer, employees wouldn’t strike as much, and businesses would be happier. Business owners, I’d love to know what solutions you’ve developed for your employees.