ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — State employees will now be required to participate in a wellness program as part of their health insurance or pay a $50 annual penalty.

The Daily Record of Baltimore reports that the wellness-program requirement begins Jan. 1 for Maryland state employees, retirees, and covered spouses, affecting more than 250,000 people.

The wellness-program requirements will be relatively easy to fulfill in 2015, but the requirements become more stringent in future years, as will the penalties.

By 2017, the penalties could increase to as much as $450 for participants who fail to undergo required screenings and fail to adhere to treatment plans for chronic conditions.

Anne Timmons, director of state employee benefits, said the wellness program is projected to slash the state’s costs by $4 billion over the next decade.
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(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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