Update: Oakland Airport Vendors Levy Health Benefits Surcharge

Barbara Boland | March 10, 2014 | 5:23pm EDT
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Travelers passing through the Oakland Airport may be in for a surprise when they get their meal or drink receipts - a surcharge for employees' health benefits. The Oakland Airport authority decided to allow an additional surcharge to be added to patrons' bills - not unlike the Obamacare surcharge restaurants in Florida and L.A. are charging.

Oakland Airport Sign

"A 2% Airport Health Benefits Surcharge will apply to all pre-tax food and beverage purchases," a sign says on one eatery. The receipt in the photo shows a charge for "2% Health SC."

Acting on a tip that vendors were levying the charge, reached out to the airport for comment on when the surcharge was instituted, and why.

Scott Wintner, Senior Marketing and Communications representative for the airport, acknowledged that the surcharges are added by concessionaire, but said he could not comment on when the charge started.

Surcharge Listed on Receipt

Oakland airport "requires that its vendors charge no more than 15% above street pricing, and this 'surcharge' is not an exception to that rule," Wintner said. Concessionaires could just raise their prices by 2%, but "the idea of a health benefits surcharge comes from Healthy San Francisco," which he goes on to say "has nothing to do with Oakland."

The Healthy San Francisco initiative is a program operated by the San Francisco Department of Public Health in conjunction with the city's health care ordinance mandating minimum employer expenditures on employee health care.

Wintner also recommended that speak to the concessionaires (and the company that manages them) directly, but they did not respond by the time of this post.

Anyone who dines regularly in San Francisco will be familiar with the added charge there which covers subsidized medical care for the uninsured in the city of San Francisco. It appears at the bottom of receipts as "Healthy SF Mandate."

Ironically, "Healthy San Francisco," which rolled out in 2006, is in doubt as to what its future will be, now that Obamacare supersedes the program on a federal level.

For most people, estimating that tip was already complicated enough, but with all these new surcharges, figuring out what you owe at the end of a night of dinner and drinks with friends is going to be a real headache. No one needs their dinner receipt to be as lengthy and surcharge-ridden as car rental agreement!

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

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