2024 Forecast: Employer Coverage for GLP-1 Drugs Set to Soar



The use of GLP-1 medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy for weight loss is becoming increasingly popular, and many businesses plan on covering these drugs for their employees in the future. According to a survey by Accolade, a healthcare firm, 43% of employers plan to cover these drugs by 2024, nearly doubling the current coverage rate of 25%. While cost is a concern, as these drugs average over $1,000 per month, HR leaders find value in these medications for their potential to improve the health of their employees and therefore increase productivity and reduce overall healthcare costs.

HR Leaders Increase Coverage of Weight Loss Drugs Ozempic and Wegovy

As GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy gain popularity for weight loss, more HR leaders are indicating plans to cover these medications for their employees. By 2024, 43% of employers plan to provide coverage for these drugs, a significant increase from the current 25%, according to a survey by healthcare firm Accolade.

Survey Findings: Employers Open to GLP-1 Medications

The survey, involving 500 employers, revealed that a majority of HR decision-makers are considering including GLP-1 medications in their benefits package. An estimated 81% believe their employees would be interested in these drugs. The anticipated increase in coverage could be attributed to employees’ interest and potential benefits to employers, such as healthier workers and improved recruitment and retention rates.

GLP-1 Drugs Boost Employee Satisfaction

James Wantuck, M.D., associate chief medical officer at Accolade, suggests that the rising demand for these medications could enhance health insurance packages for employees, simultaneously boosting their mental and physical health long-term. Companies that have added GLP-1 drugs to their health care offerings witnessed increased enrollment and higher employee satisfaction.

GLP-1 Drugs Approval and Usage for Weight Loss

While Ozempic is primarily covered for Type 2 diabetes treatment, Wegovy, another diabetes medication, received U.S. FDA approval for chronic weight management in 2021. Meanwhile, Eli Lilly is awaiting FDA approval for Mounjaro, an anti-diabetes medication, as a treatment option for adults with obesity or weight-related health issues.

Employers Recognize Health Benefits

Many employers are open to covering these drugs to promote employee health. Accolade’s survey shows that 75% of HR decision-makers believe GLP-1 medications are beneficial for blood sugar control, weight loss, blood pressure improvement, and heart disease risk reduction. Obesity, a significant contributor to company healthcare costs, could potentially be managed through these drugs.

Cost Concerns with GLP-1 Drugs

Despite potential benefits, 38% of HR leaders highlight the costs associated with GLP-1 drugs as a barrier to coverage. Drugs like Ozempic cost over $1,000 per month on average. Furthermore, consistent use of these drugs is necessary to maintain weight loss, indicating long-term commitment from employers and a higher cost. However, the rising employee interest may lead to increased coverage for these impactful medications.

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