LEWISTON – Health efforts aimed at trimming city employees’ waistlines are paying off on the bottom line.

Lewiston’s health insurance rates for employees are going down 4.87 percent in 2008, according to City Administrator Jim Bennett. That means a savings of $175,000 in the coming budget year.

Bennett credited a new health insurance program that gives employees discounts for making healthy choices. The city began the program in 2005, but expanded it this summer.

Employees must meet four health criteria to qualify for a 15 percent credit on their health insurance premiums, according to the new contracts. They’d have to agree to attend a medical screening, exercise, lose weight and quit smoking to get the credit.

“The net result, as a city we’ve lost 2,000 pounds,” Bennett said. That effort has been recognized by getting cheaper insurance.

Bennett said he expected the program would pay off for the city, but expected to see reduced rates in five years.

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