Companies Paying Employees to Stay Fit

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Some companies fed up with rising health-care costs are offering workers cash incentives to go to the gym, quit smoking, or do a better job of managing chronic health problems, such as diabetes. And at Ottawa Dental Laboratory in Chicago, workers have won DVD players, iPods, and flat-screen TVs by piling up exercise "bucks."

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And our last word comes from companies who are fed up with rising health care costs. They're telling workers we'll pay you to stay fit. More and more companies are offering cash incentives to encourage workers to go to the gym, quit smoking or better manage health problems like diabetes.

IBM pays up to $300 a year. Johnson and Johnson will take $500 off worker's health insurance if they take part in the company's disease prevention program. Then there's Ottawa Dental Laboratory, a crown and denture maker in the Chicago area. Workers there have won DVD players, iPods and flat-screen TVs. They earn bucks on the company's health insurers' Web site when they go to the gym or quit smoking. They use those bucks to buy goodies. One worker who exercises four times a week told the Los Angeles Times she feels really good and, quote, "the shopping is great."

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

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