A new survey report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reveals U.S. employer coverage and considerations surrounding glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drugs, which have historically been used to treat diabetes. These drugs were also found to cause weight loss and have been subsequently used to treat obesity.

Among survey respondents, 76% provide GLP-1 drug coverage for diabetes, 27% provide coverage for weight loss, and 13% are considering covering for weight loss.

In 2023, the average representation of GLP-1 drugs used for weight loss in employers’ total annual claims was 6.9%, according to survey respondents. Those who are covering GLP-1 drugs are relying heavily on utilization management (79%) to control costs. A less common approach (32%) is step therapy. Fourteen percent of employers have no cost control mechanism in place.

“Though GLP-1 drugs have a high price tag, they currently represent only 6.9% of annual claims, according to survey respondents,” said Julie Stich, CEBS, Vice President of Content at the International Foundation. “Employers can take this information into account when designing long-and short-term benefit strategies.”

The most prevalent factor employers take into consideration for GLP-1 drug coverage for obesity care include:

  • Obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions and associated costs—63%
  • Long-term costs—55%
  • Impact/effectiveness of cost-control mechanisms—54%
  • Broker/consultant/PBM recommendations—50%
  • Lack of long-term use clinical studies of GLP-1 drugs—46%

For more information and to view the full survey report, visit www.ifebp.org/GLP1drugs.

Anne Patterson

Associate Director, PR and Communications Favorite Foundation Product: Foundation Community. It’s like LinkedIn but only for Foundation members. They can post questions, share best practices, etc—all with fellow members who also live and breathe employee benefits. Benefits-related Topics That Interest Her Most: Mental health, diversity, equity and inclusion, behavioral decision making, family-forming benefits, payroll audits. Personal Insight: When she’s not busy keeping up with her two little ones, Anne finds joy in home renovation and décor, haiku writing, watching Jeopardy, crafting charcuterie boards, and bicycling.

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