Treating obesity and decreasing its prevalence rates in the United States have become very significant and challenging public health issues in modern medicine. That’s why the recent development and widespread public awareness of a class of medications known as GLP-1 (Glucagon-Like Peptide-1) is such a significant development for the 42% of Americans currently struggling with obesity.
Originally developed to treat diabetes, GLP-1s (also referred to as GLP-1 agonists) were recently shown to be effective in helping patients lose weight with fewer side effects and risk factors than any drugs previously available.
Over the course of 2023, public awareness of these medications grew rapidly as their efficacy in promoting healthy weight loss became increasingly apparent. This trend continued steadily throughout last year until the number of patients being prescribed GLP-1s for weight loss far exceeded those who were taking them to treat diabetes.
It should be noted that GLP-1s are still very expensive, resulting in a fair bit of skepticism that they are ultimately worth the cost. In fact, a recent survey by the research firm Virta confirmed that the high-costs of GLP-1s, triggered by rapidly increasing demand, are a serious concern for 72% of health plan leaders.
Clinicians and researchers argue that the upfront costs are far lower than the long run expenses. For example, clinical obesity and its related health conditions (hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, certain forms of cancer, and so on) cost the U.S. an estimated $1.7 trillion every year, or 9.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Despite some misgivings about the price tag, coverage of GLP-1s is still considered by many employees as an attractive benefit. In fact, according to researchers at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the coverage of GLP-1s will continue to rise steadily throughout 2024.
More employers are recognizing the importance of employee health and well-being. This means that they are taking steps to enhance healthcare coverage while offering comprehensive healthcare solutions that address not only chronic conditions like diabetes but also contribute to overall health improvement through weight management.
These employers understand that they remain more competitive in the current labor market if they offer the types of benefits packages that employees want. This includes coverage for medications and treatments that are more preventative and holistic.
Contact your Amwins Connect Sales Representative for assistance with developing unique benefit strategies that can meet the specific needs and expectations of your clients.