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Despite push, US employers wary of health incentives

Bruce Wolfeld (top), a product manager at EMC Corp., worked out at the company’s fitness center in Hopkinton.
Bruce Wolfeld (top), a product manager at EMC Corp., worked out at the company’s fitness center in Hopkinton.Credit: LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF

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Would $1,700 a year motivate you to drop a few pounds? How about $3,000 to quit smoking?

That is how much, on average, the government is allowing employers to reward their workers beginning January 2014 for doing things like losing weight, lowering their cholesterol and keeping their blood pressure in check. A new, little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act boosts the maximum incentives for workplace programs that encourage employees to get healthier in hopes of lowering insurance costs. But despite the generous incentives available next year, most companies are treading carefully, wary of lawsuits and negative publicity.

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