Obama met CEOs, corporate benefits officers, union leaders and state and local health officials to talk about ways to improve worker fitness and reduce absenteeism, a day after winning a pledge from the health care industry to slow the long-term rise in costs.
Obama said there are "no quick fixes" to the problem but that he wants to "lift up" the best practices for health care to save money for families, businesses and the government.
The businesses highlighted by the White House include supermarket company Safeway, which provides insurance discounts for workers who quit smoking, lower their weight and control their blood pressure and cholesterol.
The company has reduced its health care spending by 13 percent and workers have cut their insurance premiums by 20 percent.
Other companies mentioned by the White House have a more aggressive approach. Microsoft has a staff of doctors that makes house calls to avoid emergency room visits. And the company also provides free meals consistent with diet recommendations to eat on site or take home. Microsoft is listed on Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Places to Work.
Another company on the Fortune list is REI, which encourages employees to go outdoors and participate in aerobic activity by providing equipment support to their workers, and gives discounts and time off to workers who engage in "good behaviors."
Health officials say wellness programs improve worker productivity and reduce chronic diseases and in turn reduce health care costs. Higher insurance costs are pushing employers to either raise the amount their workers pay or cancel the insurance altogether. In 2001, 59 percent of U.S. employers offered company paid insurance. By last year that figure had fallen to 55 percent.
Wendell Goler serves as a senior White House and foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC), joining the network in 1996.