Press Releases
September 16, 2011

Mayor Emanuel and Labor Leaders Announce New Comprehensive Wellness Program for City of Chicago Employees and Families

Program crafted in partnership with labor unions will save taxpayers $100 million and improve health of thousands of employees and family members.

Mayor Emanuel was joined Friday by leaders of labor unions to announce that for the first time, the City of Chicago will offer a comprehensive wellness program to employees and their families. The program, developed jointly by labor unions and city officials, will offer free wellness services, check-ups, and counseling for city workers, and will save taxpayers $100 million.

“With this partnership, we are able to save more than $100 million for taxpayers and improve the lives of City workers,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This innovative program is only possible with the partnership of our partners in labor unions, and will help our workers and their families live healthier lives while greatly reducing the amount spent on health insurance for city workers.”

Wellness is an issue that was highlighted by the Mayor Emanuel and labor union leaders on the campaign, and is one of the first issues that was discussed between the Administration and the labor unions. The program was developed in a series of meetings over the last few months, and is designed to keep healthy people healthy, discover and address critical health needs in others, and help people who are sick manage their chronic conditions.

“I am pleased to have worked with the Mayor to craft a program that works for Chicago employees and the people of the city,” said Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “The health and wellbeing of our members and their families is essential to the city’s success in the future, and we are committed to working with the Mayor to implement this program swiftly and effectively.”

"As a whole, the unions and the members they represent see the value in this investment in their wellbeing," added Ramirez.  "I want to commend and recognize those labor leaders for their leadership and hard work."

Employees and eligible spouses will be able to opt into the program for no cost. They will receive an annual health exam, follow-up phone calls from a medical provider, and free instruction on key areas of concern or focus. Employees who choose not to participate in the program will pay an extra $50 per month in health care premiums; these fees will fund the program. At all times, the privacy of the employees and their families will be respected.

The health screenings will look for areas of immediate concern – hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes – and will help develop a course of action that is appropriate for the patient. Previous experiences have shown that, in the first year of such a program, about three percent of those screened will avoid a life threatening incident or death.

The program will also include optional programs for children, including instruction on common afflictions such as asthma.

The program is expected to begin as soon as possible.