Employer coverage of weight-loss drugs set to double in 2024

Erica Carbajal –

Forty-three percent of employers plan to cover weight loss drugs in 2024, nearly double the proportion of employers that cover them now, according to newly released survey findings from Accolade.

The company partnered with research firm Savanta on a survey of 500 HR leaders at medium and large U.S. businesses from a variety of industries between August and September. Overall, 81% of HR leaders believe their employees would be interested in having coverage of glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist medications, such as Wegovy and Ozemic, as part of their health benefits.

A few more key findings:

Among the 25% of employers already covering GLP-1 medication, most said they plan to continue covering the drugs, citing increased employee engagement, improvement in health conditions and higher overall satisfaction and well-being.

Trust and cost were identified as key barriers to incorporating GLP-1 medications into coverage plans: 48% of respondents pointed to a lack of information about uses of the drug as holding them back on coverage, and 38% cited costs associated with the drug.

“This survey provides a helpful pulse on the HR community’s need for a game plan around GLP-1 medications,” James Wantuck, MD, associate chief medical officer at Accolade, said in a news release on the findings. “For the forty-three percent planning to offer coverage next year, we recommend a physician-led approach that guides who should be prescribed GLP-1 medications and how to make them part of a holistic health management plan.”

The findings come amid new research linking GLP-1 agonists to stomach paralysis and other serious GI side effects. Sales of the drugs have skyrocketed in the last year, with prescription volumes increasing 300 percent between 2020 and the end of 2022.