Category Archives: Healthcare

Sometimes the fight to stay healthy is the most difficult task for those swamped with a 9-5 and other obligations.


Los Angeles Restaurants Pass Employee Healthcare Costs to Customers

20-with-diner-receipt-189321-m***I’m very interested in innovative ways benefits are offered to the average worker.  This is a repost of a recent article review I wrote for a class I am currently taking. (Prof. Moyer – I’m not plagiarizing, promise!)

ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE: “The 3% Surcharge Catches On: The Lucques Group Introduces Healthcare For Employees”

As costs rise across industries, many employers struggle to find ways to increase employee satisfaction by providing health care benefits, while remaining competitive in their industry. The Los Angeles based The Lucques Group (TLG) has introduced a self-funded health maintenance organization (HMO) option for its full time employees. Earlier this year, one restaurant unrelated to TLG, Republique, set a precedent in the area by adding a 3% surcharge to fund their staff’s health care program. Recently, The Lucques Group has followed suit, and benefits will be available for employees working 30 or more hours at their various sites. Qualified employees will be eligible for benefits as early as October 1, 2014.

According to the article, Republique’s bold move to provide health coverage for its staff has paved the way for a number of Los Angeles establishments to follow. For food service staff in the area, this health care surcharge may soon become a standard. Management at The Lucques Group, with three restaurants, considers the surcharge an ethical way to recover from past financial losses due to the rising costs of food. The public has questioned why management opted for the surcharged rather than rolling the amounts into menu price increases. TLG’s reply was that menu prices are tied to ingredient prices, and to heavily increase menu item pricing was a less desired option. Many have accused TLG for inserting a political statement into their fine dining experience, but TLG denies this move is tied to anything involving the Affordable Care Act, as critics claim. TLG insists the provision will allow their staff stable, long-term security options in an otherwise transient industry that rarely provides health care benefits. While there are accusations that the surcharge funds will be misappropriated, TLG vowed to publicly report to maintain transparency.

There are a number of critics who genuinely disapprove of what this surcharge represents, however, the most glaring question at hand is who is responsible for the payment of this provision. While it was not made entirely clear in the article whether the HMO is contributory or noncontributory, TLG has been very honest about being unable to afford the coverage. It wants to provide its staff affordable group insurance, because “it’s the right thing to do.” I completely agree. While the article muddles it, ultimately, TLG is paying for the group benefit, but passing along the cost increase to the consumer in a very transparent way: as a surcharge, not hidden in the menu pricing.

In food service, many workers are exploited due to certain clauses around minimum wage and tips. Federal law states that tips and wages are to be equivalent to minimum wage, and when this does not happen, owners are responsible for paying the employee the difference. Many times, this does not happen, and servers are left dealing with the deficit. With such low paying positions, which for many are only part-time, accessing health care services would be tremendously challenging and costly.

The local restaurant industry might be very threatened by this move to make health care benefits available to its staff, as TLG and other restaurants are setting the new standard in the Los Angeles food service economy. In this particular industry, the low wages and lack of benefits are precisely why some sites are thriving and earning high profits. It can be expected that if this practice were to become a citywide or statewide mandate, many owners would lobby to oppose it.

Patrons of the restaurant are put off by the responsibility of paying for the staff’s medical coverage. In the article, there is a certain sentiment where customers are angered to have to cover the restaurant’s overhead costs. Even being put in a position where they have to think about providing health care for others is highly offensive these customers. On the Yelp! reviews of Republique, patrons found the surcharge to be tacky and very upsetting, despite the excellent customer service they received throughout their meal. It is illogical to assume that restaurants have other streams of earning other than the the meals served and the beverages purchased. Folded into the price of any meal is the cost of a restaurant’s overhead expenses.

This flawed logic points to a broader societal sentiment where the consumer does not see himself / herself engaged in a larger process within the service economy. There has to be a better understanding of basic workers rights, especially as quality of life dwindles as the cost of living rises. To offer its staff medical care is an important step for TLG to normalize within the restaurant industry. More forward-thinking Los Angeles restaurateurs should be encouraged to do the same, in the hopes that it can affect change on a federal level. This would be a victory for food service workers, and would help raise their total income rather than maintain the low wages they usually are paid.

Beam, Burton T., and John J. MacFadden. Employee Benefits. Chicago, IL: Dearborn Financial Publ., 2012. Print.
Rodell, Besha. “The 3% Surcharge Catches On: The Lucques Group Introduces Healthcare For Employees.” L.A. Weekly 2 Sept. 2014: n. pag. Print.
“République.” Yelp! N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2014. Retrived from

Mental health

Why Mental Wellness Is a Thing – with Service Provider Links (NYC)

If you feel you need the additional support of therapy and want to spend time working on your mental health and emotional wellness, do not feel that you are completely without options. (To limit confusion: for the purpose of this entry, I am using mental health, emotional wellness,  support, and therapy somewhat interchangeably. )

After paying bills and covering basic needs, it’s really hard to set aside any sum of money to seek therapy, even when you want that sort of help. But did you know that there are so many resources available nationally/locally that you can use as affordable mental health resources? Many times, these providers alter their regular pricing to accommodate your situation, and charge via sliding scale (based on your income, or ability to pay), low-cost set fees, or NO-COST (free!) copays for their clients. 

Having a dedicated outlet for your emotions and experiences is very important, but we don’t always have the chance to do this. Basically, when you are always preoccupied with reacting to such stressful conditions, are consistently traumatized, are fatigued from working all your jobs,  and/or are exposed to abusive behaviors daily …. you spend more time worrying and less time doing the things you want to do.  Ignoring your mental health decreases your quality of life, and it becomes extremely challenging to complete basic, objective tasks (like saving money or paying your bills). When you’re always panicking, emotions entangle themselves in the daily tasks that can easily be done, resulting in a lot of devastation.

Having  also struggled with depression for years, I knew I barely functioned during those times. When you’re neither grounded nor reflecting on the difficulties you face or traumatic experiences you come across, things can spiral downward very quickly.

It’s no surprise that there are tremendous gaps in who is usually able to afford and access mental health services, and who isn’t. For the most part, communities of color are left on the outskirts of affordability. There is also a slew of cultural stigmas and systemic oppressions in acquiring treatment that further distance certain communities and ethnic enclaves from receiving these services.

There are also a set of issues that make mental health support services particularly challenging for women to acquire.  As a survivor of domestic violence and childhood abuse, I can say economic abuse and lack of wealth for women play key roles in why  so many stay in abusive relationships.  I went to therapy during the time I was getting out of a bad relationship, and continued treatment while I was gradually rebuilding my life (which actually might still be occurring…ha!)  So, I can attest to how important it is to have as much support as you can when you are transitioning to a better situation.

Therapy will not save you from every problem you are facing in your life. I treat it as a space where I am made to reflect on things happening to me. You won’t necessarily get homework from your therapist, or see a linear/straightforward process, but at minimum, you may be able to gain a better understanding of yourself and the current situation troubling you. Therapy is not a solution in itself, but a process to help you arrive to a solution.

The process: Many services and insurers cover treatment from psychiatrists (these doctors can prescribe medication), psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers (L.C.S.W.s). There are also specialists who focus on certain issues, like alcoholism or domestic violence (or partner violence/abuse), so you may seek them to fit your situation.

Once you find a specialist, do the intake at the office (usually just some basic contact info and your medical history), and then you have a session and get to talk with your specialist. It is wise to make appointments with various therapists, because this process is similar to “dating”, in that you’re making the decision whether this specialist and you are a fit. Sometimes, you may not like their approach/method, their offices are too far, or that you just plain are not feeling them. It is within your right to request a new specialist. Keep doing this until you feel like you are getting your needs met.

Also, consider finding a local support group for whatever issue you are facing, which are usually free. One place to start is the listing at Mental Health America, and then doing an online search for issue-specific groups, as well.  This can also supplement your therapy sessions so you have a community of people with similar issues who can help support you.

Below this entry is a list** of organizations in the New York City area with opportunities for low-cost/sliding scale therapy. If you are not local, it might still be beneficial to call one of the providers and ask for any recommendations they may have in your area.  They might be able to refer you to national or regional affiliates or contacts that may be better able to help you.

I know it can be overwhelming, so do the best that you can with what you have. Good luck on your search! I’m rooting for you!   -h!




**This is an old list I compiled for a women’s organization I worked with closely in the NYC area.

Please also check these sites for the most current NYC area listings:




Phone (212) 228-6036

9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday-Friday

16 West 10th Street
(between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)



Crime Victims Treatment Center (this is a mental health resource)
St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center
411 West 114th Street
Suite 2C
New York, NY 10025
(212) 523-4728


Center for Educational and Psychological Services
Teachers College – Columbia University
525 West 120th Street, Box 91
New York, NY  10027
North side between Broadway & Amsterdam Avenue – 6th floor of Thorndike Hall at Teachers College
Procedure: Apply directly by calling its telephone number. Once the appointment is set up, the patient fills out an application and is assigned an advanced graduate student closely supervised by Teacher College faculty members.
Pricing: Sliding scale – $5 to $40 per session
Note: The Center’s services are not reimbursable under Medicaid, Medicare or other medical insurance plans.
Schedule: Every month except August. Monday through Thursday, 9am to 9pm. Friday, 9am to 5pm. Summer hours vary.
Phone: 1-212-678 -3262

If your life seems out of control and nothing you do seems to help, you may want to call us (516-741-0994 or 1-800-317-1173). Our professional, caring licensed counselors provide individual, couple, children and family counseling

The Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy
1841 Broadway @ 60th Street, 4th Floor NewYork, NY 10023
Tel: (212) 333-3444 Fax: (212) 333-5444
Albert Ellis Institute
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
45 East 65th Street
New York, NY  10021
Institute offers short-term therapy that offers long-term results.  To arrange an appointment or discuss fees or insurance coverage, call Monday – Friday from 9:15 am-8:45 pm or Saturdays from 9:15 am-5:00 pm.
Individual counseling and therapy sessions range from $50-$150.  Group sessions are $30.  Lectures are $10 and workshops are $50.
Phone: 1-800-323-4758 or 1-212-535-0822
“The core mission of the Albert Ellis Institute is to provide global access to the benefits of Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies through the training and education of mental health and allied professionals worldwide.
The Institute is committed to the evolution, refinement, and application of these techniques and methodologies according to the principles of our founder in clinical, academic, and private sector settings.”


Redeemer Presbyterian Counseling Service
1359 Broadway, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Patient first goes through an “initial intake” where he or she is assigned a counselor based on his or her specific needs and each therapist’s expertise and availability.
Sliding scale: $40 – $120
Phone: 212-370-0475   x1365
“Redeemer Counseling Services is a ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and exists to provide biblical perspective to the challenges of life. RCS provides professional counseling for individuals, couples, and families for the urban population of New York City. The goal of counseling is to provide a context of growth by equipping individuals and the urban community with emotional and spiritual wholeness. The counselors of RCS are trained individuals committed to Christian perspectives in dealing with mental health.”



A Psychotherapy Group in the Village
160 Bleecker Street 9C East
New York, NY 10012
Call for a free consultation.
“Generous fees based on ability to pay.”
Phone: (212) 673-4618 or (646) 239 9112
“Psychotherapy Group in the Village New York City was founded in 1993 by André Anthony Moore and a group of psychotherapists, counselors, social workers, family therapists, psychoanalysts, psychologists and psychiatrists – trusted colleagues whom André has come to know over the years and whose work he admires and respects.”

NYU Behavioral Health Care Programs
401 East 34th Street – 4th Floor
New York, New York 10016
Phone: 212-263-7419
Office Hours: Call for Appointment
200, 75 each


Bellevue Hospital Ambulatory Community Psychiatry Programs
462 First Avenue
New York, New York 10016
Phone: 212-562-1000
Office Hours: Call for Appointment
sliding scale therapy:
NYU’s referral service
888 769 8633


Mental health