Jack in the Box Announces Plan To Offer Health Coverage to Employees
San Diego-based restaurant chain Jack in the Box last week announced that it would offer health coverage to hourly workers, the Los Angeles Times reports. Jack in the Box had opposed SB 2 -- a state law repealed Nov. 2 that would have required some employers to provide health insurance to employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage -- but company officials said their decision to offer health benefits to employees was unrelated to their opposition.
Jack in the Box will pay part of the premium for part- and full-time employees who have worked at company-owned restaurants for at least one year. Health coverage will be offered to employees who have worked at company-owned restaurants for less than a year, but the company will not contribute to their premiums. The plan, which will be available for individuals and families, takes effect Dec. 1.
According to the Times, about 32,000 Jack in the Box employees will be eligible for health coverage under the plan. The company currently offers health benefits to employees in shift-leader positions and higher.
Company spokesperson Brian Luscomb said that as many as 10% of restaurant employees who currently are uninsured could enroll in the plan.
Jack in the Box will offer employees a basic plan with no copayments or deductibles that includes annual maximum limits of $300 for preventive care, specialist visits and emergency medical services for each individual covered. After the caps are met, members could receive treatment at discounted prices.
In addition, the company will offer two health plans with expanded benefits, including limited coverage for prescription drugs, outpatient surgery and inpatient hospital visits. The plans will have higher premiums.
For an additional fee, employees could receive dental and vision benefits under all three plans.
Company officials did not indicate premium amounts or what the plan would cost the company.
However, CEO Robert Nugent said the plan would pay for itself if it reduced employee turnover rates by 0.1%, adding, "We feel very, very comfortable that we'll get that result."
Hal Sieling, a restaurant consultant, said, "Doing nothing is the norm," adding, "It's a good idea for [Jack in the Box] to be leading the pack."
Peter Warren, a spokesperson for the California Medical Association, said, "Anytime an employer wants to take on some of the burden of working with employees to cover health care, that's a good thing. It broadens the risk pool, and it reduces the risk for the rest of us."
However, Lynda Ford -- president of the Ford Group, a New York-based management consulting firm -- said, "Without knowing how much employees are contributing, it's hard to assess whether or not it's a good deal" (Tamaki, Los Angeles Times, 11/22).