Better cost management for business while improving health for employees was the umbrella topic for a Doral Business Council forum in partnership with Hialeah Hospital, July 23 at the DaVinci Center in Doral. South Florida business owners who attended the panel discussion, moderated by Ralph Aleman, Hialeah Hospital CEO, heard from medical experts Dr. Doug Bartel, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida; Dr. Alejandro Badia, Dr. Nestor De La Cruz-Muñoz and Dr. Romualdo J. Segurola Jr., three physician specialists associated with the hospital. “Healthcare coverage is one of the biggest expenses that a business owner can incur, and with costs rising yearly, it is important for business owners to know how to be proactive in saving money and also how to keep employees healthy,” said Pete De La Torre, Council Executive Director and panel moderator. Topics discussed at the forum ranged from the leading causes of the upward spiral of American healthcare costs to the importance of health education and prevention in regard to employee healthcare costs and benefits. Dr. Badia explained that the U.S. “has gotten to this point because medicine has become too much of a business,” and discussed the barriers that physicians face in making treatment decisions and being able to treat the patient. Dr. De La Cruz- Munoz went on to explain that obesity is a direct cost of the use of healthcare and that obese patients’ pharmaceutical costs are 77% higher than people of a normal weight. Dr. Sugurola discussed the need for better prevention and education, explaining, “this is something that we are not currently practicing enough of in this country.” Dr. Bartel of Blue Cross and Blue Shield agreed, stating, “consumers do more research when looking for a new washer or dryer than they do when it comes to their healthcare.” Closing the panel, Dr. Aleman explained that the hospital business is not high profit – that the average margin for a nonprofit hospital is two percent, noting that in terms of healthcare reform, the hospital industry has planned to cover millions in costs. Hialeah Hospital, part of Tenet’s Florida region, is a 378-bed acute care hospital located at 651 East 25th Street, serving central to north Miami-Dade County since 1951.