Meal, drink, tip … insurance?

Some Los Angeles restaurants are adding a 3 percent surcharge to diners’ tabs in order to cover employees’ health insurance.

The owners of the restaurants deny that the additional charge is a “political statement” about the Affordable Care Act, saying it’s merely a way to provide for their employees.

“We want our staff to have health care,” Josh Loeb, a co-owner of the restaurant Milo & Olive told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s not because we support Obama or don’t support Obama, or are Democrats or are not Democrats.”

Several customers have complained that while they don’t mind paying a little more in order for the restaurant’s staff to have health coverage, they would prefer that the coverage be factored into the price of the food, not itemized on the bill.

Bruce Morman, a customer at the restaurant, said that he’s happy to pay more for their coverage, but didn’t want to have to talk to his waiter about health insurance.

“It should be seamless,” Mormon told the Times. “I don’t want to think about it.”

A customer also wrote on Yelp: “It’s basically management saying ‘Obamacare made me do it.’ If you want to offset costs try turning up the thermostat. There’s your 3%! Now please pay your workers’ health insurance, and hush.”

Jot Condie, chief executive of the California Restaurant Association, doubts that the additional charge will gain widespread popularity, but suggested that restaurants might opt for an “all-inclusive service fee” instead. The fee would replace the surcharge and the tip.

“Once it starts you are going to see other segments in the industry, whether coffee shops or ice cream shops, dip their toe in,” Condie said to the Times. But he added one caveat: “If they see it’s manageable and customers do not revolt.”