More than 100 business and health care leaders had healthy discussion with politicians, health insurance company executives, physicians and hospital administrators that came together to discuss the future of health insurance at Oct. 29 DC Health Summit

Gaithersburg MD, November 2008 — The much-anticipated DC Health Summit held on Oct. 29 at the Mandarin Hotel in Washington, DC drew more than 100 business leaders interested in the future of health insurance reform to a packed the ballroom at the Mandarin Hotel to hear what health insurance company executives, physicians, hospital administrators, and politicians had to say about how workplace wellness programs can lower insurance rates.

“This was a groundbreaking event,” moderator Andy Hines told the crowd. “For the first time, decision makers and players from every industry that impact the cost of health insurance gathered in one room. Fortunately, no chairs were thrown, and we had a very interesting discussion.”

That was the goal for Stephanie Cohen, CEO of the health benefits firm Golden & Cohen, who hosted the event.

“I have been in the trenches of the health care insurance industry for more than a decade, and what I see happening to my clients when they try to collect on their benefits not only disturbs me as a business owner — it infuriates me as a U.S. citizen and a mother,” Cohen says. “That is why my partners and I at Golden & Cohen decided to host the DC Health Summit. Our goal is to bring the decision makers together—politicians, health insurance company executives, physicians, academics and hospital administrators—so we can start to come up with workable solutions.”

Highlights from the Keynote

Keynote speaker Steven Aldana, PhD, CEO of the workplace wellness company Wellsteps, started off the discussion with ideas on the importance of employers effectively integrating wellness programs into their corporate culture.

“Companies are always looking for ways to reduce employee-related expenses and many corporations and organizations are using health promotion programs as a reactionary effort to curtail ever-increasing, employee-related expenses of health care and lost productivity,” says Aldana, who shared charts and research to prove his point.

Following his presentation, audience member Priscilla O’Donnell, vp of human resources at the Virginia-based organization, shared that her firm started a wellness program in April that has had a dramatic impact on employees’ waistlines and moral.

“In the last six months since we implemented a wellness program at my company employees have lost a total of 700 pounds,” she said. “We joke that we’ve actually cut our staff by the equivalent of what would have been three full-time employees. The unintended benefit is that employees not only feel and look better — they have come to believe that the company truly cares about them.

“That was the most beautiful development, because we really do want our employees to feel like they are family,” O’Donnell adds. “With that comes loyalty, on behalf of the employee and the employer. Everyone works harder because they truly care about each other — and they care about the future of the organization.”

Insights from an All-Star Panel

The benefits of wellness programs was further debated when moderator Andy Hines, a futurist at the research and consulting firm Social Technologies, initiated a question and answer period with the Summit’s panel of six high-profile panelists.

They included Virginia Senator George Barker, Kaiser Permanente’s Director of Population Care Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, Neurosurgeon Dr. James Melisi, the National Rehabilitation Hospital’s VP Dr. Paul Rao, Maryland’s former Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, and UnitedHealthcare’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sanford Cohen.

To hear some of their remarks, view a video of the event by videographer Zack Starr on YouTube and

For More Information

Questions and media inquiries can be directed to Hope Gibbs of Inkandescent Public Relations, who is coordinating the event: 703-346-6975.

Learn more about the event

See a portion of the DC Health Summit on YouTube.

Read the transcript of Dr. Steve Aldana’s keynote speech.

Read the transcript of from our discussion with the panelists