Employers increasingly open to GLP-1 coverage, analysis reveals

A recent survey found that up to 4 in 10 employers intend to cover GLP-1 drugs in 2024, up from the 25% of employers that currently cover the medications.

Employer sentiment toward GLP-1 drugs showed that 81% of human resource decision-makers would be interested expanding coverage. Three-fourths of HR decision-makers are aware of the impacts these medications can have on employees.

GLP-1 medications, originally designed for diabetes management, have skyrocketed in popularity over the past year as effective drugs for weight loss and obesity. The drugs help employees control blood sugar, boost weight loss and improve blood pressure, which can lower the risk of heart disease.

"These findings mirror the conversations we're having with customers," said James Wantuck, M.D., Accolade's associate chief medical officer. "This survey provides a helpful pulse on the HR community's need for a game plan around GLP-1 medications. For the 43% 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."

Lack of knowledge about all the uses of GLP-1 drugs and their high costs were the two biggest factors in employers’ uneasiness to cover the medications.

Still, 79% of employers think coverage would improve their employees’ long-term health, and 77% agree that GLP-1 coverage would make employees feel better about their health insurance.

Of the 25% of employers already offering GLP-1 drugs in its coverage, 99% say they plan to continue that practice in 2024. About one-third reported a strong financial impact from adding GLP-1s, but over two-thirds reported an increase in enrollment after the medications were added, according to a press release. Employers also said they saw an improvement in other comorbid health conditions people enrolled in plans offering GLP-1s.

Accolade, a personalized healthcare company combining virtual primary and mental health care, announced the findings of a survey conducted by market research consultancy firm Savanta of 500 HR decision-makers across U.S.-based medium and large businesses in August and September.