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Preckwinkle offering free downloads, other rewards for wellness to county workers

Monday, April 02, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will announce a “worksite wellness” program Monday in hopes of steering county government employees away from the emergency room and toward the salad bar and gym.

The program will provide rewards — from free music downloads to pedometers — for any of the 22,000 county employees who volunteer to participate in health assessments that look at eating and exercising practices to a walking program.

Preckwinkle said the program — developed with the aid of Blue Cross Blue Shield and the blessing of labor leaders representing the largely unionized workforce — will be free to employees and won’t cost taxpayers anything.

Last year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a similar program. It called for city employees to pay $50 more a month in health insurance premiums if they chose not to participate in his wellness plan. Emanuel is hoping to save $20 million this year — and $240 million over four years — by cutting obesity and smoking that contribute to costly but controllable problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma.



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