A new survey report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reveals results from a group of Canadian employers regarding considerations and coverage for glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drugs, which have historically been used to treat diabetes and are increasingly being used to treat obesity.

When I spoke with Julie Stich, CEBS, VP of Content at the Foundation, she said coverage of GLP-1 drugs for weight loss continues to be a hot topic of discussion. Additionally, while Health Canada has not approved indication for weight loss, employers are getting requests from employees. In January 2024, the International Foundation conducted a pulse survey to find out how Canadian employers are handling this issue.

Among survey respondents, 66% provide GLP-1 drug coverage for diabetes, 17% for both diabetes and weight loss, and 1% for weight loss only. Of the respondents who only cover GLP-1 drug coverage for diabetes, 9% are considering covering GLP-1 drugs for weight loss too. This survey received responses from 82 organizations.

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

  • Obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions and associated costs—67%
  • Drug shortages—47%
  • Impact/effectiveness of cost-control mechanisms—47%
  • Existing coverage through government programs—40%
  • Long-term costs—33%
  • Patient and prescriber demand—33%.

Organizations that are covering GLP-1 drugs are using cost-control mechanisms such as utilization management (47%), annual maximums (40%), eligibility requirements (27%) and lifetime maximums (27%).

Other diabetes or weight-loss services that are covered via the respondents’ extended health plans include:

  • Other prescription/non-GLP-1 drugs—56%
  • Nutritional counseling—51%
  • Telehealth/virtual care for lifestyle interventions—30%
  • Disease management programs/case management—29%
  • Telehealth/virtual care for GLP-1 drug treatment—17%
  • Lifestyle modification programs—12%
  • Bariatric surgery—5%.

For more information and to view the full survey report, visit www.ifebp.org/GLP1drugsCanada.

Cara McMullin

Communications Specialist

Favorite Foundation Product: Word on Benefits Blog

Benefits-related Topics That Interest Her Most: Equity and Inclusion, Workplace Wellness

Personal Insight: Cara loves live theatre, concerts, and festivals – lots of fantastic options in Wisconsin. In her spare time, you can also find her reading, streaming TV/movies and spending time with family and friends at local restaurants, outdoor concerts, and farmers markets.

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