Medicare spending on weight loss drugs through the roof

Medicare total spending hit $5.7 billion in 2022 for GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro, up from $57 million in 2018, according to a March 22 KFF analysis.

GLP-1 drugs were originally developed to treat Type 2 diabetes but have since gained popularity as medications used to tackle obesity. 

While Medicare is not allowed under existing law to cover the drugs for weight loss, Medicare Part D plans can cover them for other medically accepted indications, such as reducing cardiovascular risk, according to a recent CMS memo

Medicare spending on Ozempic also saw an increase from $2.6 billion in 2021 to $4.6 billion in 2022, according to the analysis. 

Medicare Part D authorized use coverage of GLP-1 drugs could point to higher spending, especially as policymakers look at legislation that would allow Medicare to cover obesity drugs.

While the drugs offer possible health benefits, strong demand, new usage and high treatment prices could put pressure on Medicare spending, Part D plan costs and Part D coverage premiums, according to KFF. 

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