​Employers Grapple with Claims Costs versus Outcomes of GLP-1 Drugs

Published November 14, 2023

Press Release

New Survey Data Reveals Total Annual Claim Representation for GLP-1 Drugs for Weight Loss

Brookfield, Wisconsin, November 14, 2023—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.

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About the International Foundation: The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is the premier educational organization dedicated to providing the diverse employee benefits community with objective, solution-oriented education, research and information to ensure the health and financial security of plan beneficiaries worldwide. The International Foundation has more than 31,000 multiemployer, corporate and public sector members representing over 25 million lives. For additional information, visit www.ifebp.org.