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Emanuel: Join Wellness Program Or Pay Up

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Scott Olson/ Getty Images)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Scott Olson/ Getty Images)

CBS Chicago (con't)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel has launched a new push to save money for the City of Chicago.

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, the mayor hopes healthier city workers will lower health care costs. Thus, he is expected to propose Friday that all enroll in his wellness program, or literally pay up.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports each year, taxpayers spend up to $500 million to pay for health insurance for city workers. Under the plan to be unveiled Friday, those workers will pay more for their insurance if they do not participate in the wellness program.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Workers who do not participate by exercising more, watching their nutrition, and quitting smoking, could see their premiums rise.

Refusing to take part could force a worker to pay $50 per month more for his or her insurance premium. If the worker’s spouse does not take part, it could cost the worker an additional $50.

The plan is based on programs that have been used in the private sector.

Mayor Emanuel expects it could save as much as $60 million per year.

The goal is to cut down on the chronic problems of a relatively small number of employees who account for nearly two thirds of the city’s annual health care bill.

Those conditions include obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

So far, all the unions representing city workers have signed on to participate in the program, with the exception of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, the Sun-Times reported.

Spokesman Mike Shields told the newspaper working different watches and having to eat fast food have contributed to higher rates of health problems for police officers, who need to be protected from having to pay a higher premium.