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COVID-19 Surcharge is Not the Right Decision

Punishing people who are trying to support local restaurants and use a medical service they already pay for with an extra fee is unethical and should not be allowed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people and businesses took a major financial hit. The Congressional Research Service, which started in 1948 to measure unemployment in the U.S., mentioned that the unemployment numbers were the highest ever in April 2020 at 14.8%.

Throughout the pandemic, Americans tried to support local businesses by ordering food from local restaurants and shopping at local stores. If unemployment rates are at a high and money is scarce, how are people supposed to pay an added fee?

New York City’s city council voted in favor last summer of allowing restaurants to impose a fee that is up to 10% of the bill before tax. Restaurants are required to “clearly note” the fee on the menu.

A New York restaurant owner, Nick Criscitelli, said that he didn’t raise prices and won’t be adding the surcharge because people are still struggling to afford dining in.

In Michigan, senior care residents are unhappy with surcharges added to their bills. According to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office, cease-and-desist orders were sent out after over 40 different complaints were filed regarding a $900 COVID-19 fee. The fee was added unknowing to patients in the facilities or their families.

“This pandemic has caused financial strain for many people and businesses in Michigan, but that does not provide companies with the right to impose unauthorized costs on their customers and clients,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Another article discussed the added fees implemented by healthcare professionals. One example was from Jennifer Koeckhoven, whose mother was billed a $60 personal protection equipment charge on top of her $1,759 ambulance bill. Her mother’s insurance did not cover or reimburse her for the fee.

Healthcare professionals have always been required to follow the proper sanitary procedures and wear PPE when needed. Just because they are required to wear it more and disinfect tools more often, doesn’t mean patients would be punished with an added fee.

According to a study done by “eHealth,” the 2020 national average for a single person with a Bronze plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACT) was about $450 per month. The monthly cost jumps to over $1,000 for a family under the same plan.

The Bronze plan even has the lowest monthly premium. If Americans pay thousands of dollars a year for healthcare coverage, we should expect insurance companies to cover any added PPE bills, especially during a pandemic.

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