More employers opt to cover weight loss drugs

Around 1 in 3 employers covered GLP-1 drugs for weight loss in 2023, a survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found. 

In 2023, 34% of employers surveyed covered GLP-1 drugs for weight loss, and 57% covered the drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes. The number of employers covering the cost of the drugs for weight loss increased from 28% in 2022.  

The nonprofit educational platform's survey, published June 13, polled 279 large employers. 

The average cost of GLP-1 drugs as a share of employers' total healthcare costs rose to 8.9% in 2023, up from 6.9% in 2022. The majority of employers surveyed, 85%, reported relying on utilization management to control costs. Most employers covering the drugs reported requiring prior authorization and body mass index and/or comorbidity requirements for coverage, while fewer reported using step therapy and eligibility requirements to control costs. 

GLP-1 medications can cost upward of $15,000 a year. Ozempic and several other GLP-1 drugs are approved to treat Type 2 diabetes, though they are prescribed off-label for weight loss. Wegovy, Saxenda and Zepbound are approved by the FDA for weight loss. 

Some employers have opted not to cover the drugs for weight loss, citing concerns over cost and effectiveness. On June 12, Bloomberg reported BCBS Michigan would stop covering GLP-1 drugs for obesity treatment across its large group commercial plan in 2025. 

Of employers that cover GLP-1 drugs only for diabetes treatment, 19% are considering offering to cover the drugs for weight loss, according to the survey. 

Read more here. 

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