Wash­ing­ton, D.C.—I recent­ly attend­ed the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Health Under­writ­ers (NAHU) annu­al “fly in” event, where employ­ee ben­e­fits spe­cial­ists meet for two days and then see the offices of their respec­tive Sen­a­tors and mem­bers of Con­gress. In real­i­ty, it is rather rare to actu­al­ly meet the mem­ber, but instead, the meet­ing is usu­al­ly with one of the admin­is­tra­tive aides. That can actu­al­ly be a good thing, since the aides often have more exper­tise on the sub­ject at hand.

The pre­lim­i­nary NAHU meet­ings often have high-lev­el mem­bers of Con­gress and the Admin­is­tra­tion in atten­dance, and it is thus pos­si­ble to get a clos­er look at the employ­ee ben­e­fits laws as they are con­sid­ered and debat­ed in Washington.

Keynote speak­er, Sen­a­tor Tim Scott (R‑SC), a for­mer insur­ance bro­ker, gave an excel­lent talk on the role of the agent in health­care reform. There were a num­ber of excel­lent break­out talks includ­ing one by Dr. Tim Church, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer of ACAP Health Con­sult­ing. His exper­tise on the impor­tance of struc­tured weight loss in any well­ness plan was well pre­sent­ed. The poten­tial med­ical costs due to the obe­si­ty epi­dem­ic are fright­en­ing, and his com­pa­ny spe­cial­izes in that phase of over­all employ­ee wellness.

“How We Can Offer More Trans­paren­cy in Med­ical Costs” was a key con­fer­ence top­ic. Suzanne Del­ban­co of Cat­a­lyst for Pay­ment Reform spoke about what is being done nation­al­ly and how far we have to go. We are still at the begin­ning stages of this nation­al debate, but progress is being made. As more and more Amer­i­cans pur­chase high deductible health plans with Health Sav­ings Accounts (HSAs), the need for accu­rate, com­par­a­tive health cost data is more impor­tant than ever.

After the meet­ings, we head­ed off to Capi­tol Hill. I met with one of the leg­isla­tive aides for Con­gress­man Jared Huff­man. It is a small world, because the leg­isla­tive aide is the nephew of an Arrow client. Beyond dis­cussing leg­isla­tive issues of the day, we offered our ser­vices to their con­stituents who may need help nav­i­gat­ing the maze of health­care reform today. In the past, I have also met with the leg­isla­tive aides of Con­gress­man Mike Thomp­son. But, the tim­ing did not work to see them this trip, so I left the infor­ma­tion for them.

Walk­ing the halls of Con­gress is real­ly an eye-open­ing expe­ri­ence; the offices are actu­al­ly fair­ly small, sit­u­at­ed in build­ings with names such as Long­worth, Can­non, Rus­sell, and Ray­burn. Once past secu­ri­ty, it is pos­si­ble to trav­el under­ground to oth­er build­ings through tun­nels. Near­by is the Supreme Court, the Library of Con­gress, and of course, the Unit­ed States Capi­tol building.

Back home we deal with health­care issues every day but it is help­ful, I believe, to annu­al­ly vis­it Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to try to be part of the solu­tion at the polit­i­cal lev­el as well.