A recent survey by market research company OnePoll found that 26% of employers plan to offer weight loss drug benefits next year. The survey included data from 500 respondents who oversaw employee health benefits at organizations with at least 5,000 employees. These results resonate with the findings of a survey by the Business Group on Health (BGH). This survey, which included responses from over 150 U.S. employers responsible for employing more than 19 million people, found that 46% of surveyed employers covered glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drugs for weight loss in 2023. An additional 3% of employers surveyed by BGH plan to add coverage in 2023, and 13% are considering adding coverage for 2025 or 2026. This reflects the increasing popularity of GLP-1 drugs for weight loss and the skyrocketing demand for employer coverage.
Employers continue to offer various weight loss options for employees, such as fitness and exercise benefits, digital weight loss solutions and preventive solutions (e.g., health screenings and nutrition classes), in addition to weight loss drug coverage. According to OnePoll, in the next year, employers plan to offer the following weight loss management solutions:
- Preventive solutions (30%)
- Digital weight loss solutions that include medications (29%)
- Weight loss drug coverage (26%)
- Fitness and exercise benefits (23%)
More than half (56%) of employers surveyed by OnePoll said weight management was very important for the preventive and physical health of employees, and 40% said it was somewhat important. Despite the rising popularity of GLP-1 drugs for weight loss, employers remain divided on coverage, especially because of their off-label use. According to OnePoll, employers’ biggest concerns with covering weight loss drugs are clinical efficiency (35%), cost (29%), stigma and bias (17%), and supply (14%). Also, many employers are concerned that these high-cost weight loss drugs will further contribute to rising prescription drug costs. Nearly all employers surveyed by BGH (92%) are concerned about high drug costs in the pipeline, and 62% of employers surveyed by OnePoll reported seeing an increase in weight loss drugs pending last year
More employers are exploring weight loss drugs as this option for weight loss becomes more popular among workers. However, covering these drugs may increase the cost of health insurance for all employees at a time when prescription drug prices are already soaring, leaving employers with much to consider.