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Agreement extends health insurance to millions of restaurant workersPosted On Fri, May 21, 2010
An agreement between the National Restaurant Association and UnitedHealth Group will make health insurance more accessible for millions of restaurant workers without benefits.
The aim is to get the 4-6 million uninsured restaurant workers in America under coverage as soon as possible, three years ahead of the federally mandated date when everyone in the country will be required to have insurance. Those employees account for about 10 percent of uninsured Americans.
"Because of the narrow profit margins of the restaurant business, it has been an ongoing real challenge for our industry to find affordable [insurance] products they could offer to employees," Dawn Sweeney, CEO of the National Restaurant Association, told the Los Angeles Times.
Workers will be able to get coverage either through their employers or, if their employer does not offer coverage, as individuals. UnitedHealth says that the health insurance plans offered by employers could cost up to 20 percent less than other plans offered to other small businesses. However, the deal will still allow these companies to deny coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions until the federal mandate is enacted in 2014.
Meanwhile, the government announced a tax credit for small businesses that offer health insurance to lower-income employees.
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