The big three automakers, faced for years with looming health care expenses for their workers and retirees, are trying to figure out new ways to lower costs. 

Ford, which spends $7 an hour on health care for its current hourly workers, is expanding an experimental wellness program that it launched two years ago for chronically ill employees. The 1,200-1,500 workers selected at first were chronically ill workers and retirees who are not eligible for Medicare. 

The Detroit Free Press reports that the program has gone beyond its initial 24-month experimental phase and has been extended through the end of 2015 in an effort to gather more data on its impact. Company officials are still not discussing the results of the study with media, however. 

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