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The Hottest New Employee Benefit Might be Good for Recruitment and Retention, but is it Worth the Cost?

March 14, 2024

Drugs such as Ozempic®, Wegovy®, Mounjaro™ and Zepbound have become household names in a short period of time – and for good reason. They’re the latest way to lose weight, which is also making them the hottest new benefit an employer can provide.

In fact, a recent survey showed that Americans valued coverage for weight loss drugs more than unlimited time off, child care assistance and remote or hybrid work models.

The popularity of these drugs as a benefit can’t be ignored, as a healthy economy has organizations looking for any edge to recruit and retain top talent.

But at a cost of nearly $1,000 a month to provide the drug to one person, is the spending worth the reward for employers? New research on these drugs is making a compelling case because it is showing benefits beyond the waistline.

Drugs like Ozempic® and Wegovy® are not only helping control diabetes and assisting consumers with weight loss, they might also reduce inflammation to promote a healthier heart and kidneys, according to a recent study published in the Kidney International medical journal.

In clinical trials, nearly 70% of people who took semaglutide drugs such as those listed lost at least 10% of their baseline weight, according to the National Institutes of Health. These drugs have also shown to regulate appetite, control blood sugar and avoid weight loss procedures such as bariatric surgery, according to the NIH.

Further, a recent study found a 20% reduction in heart attacks, strokes and death from cardiovascular disease for those taking semaglutide for more than three years, according to the American Heart Association.

Healthier employees lead to a lower need for expensive care, thus reducing spending by employers. Wellness programs can help employers trim spending by 25% annually as absenteeism, health care costs, worker’s compensation and disability management decline.

However, these drugs do have side effects that could lower employee productivity, such as diarrhea, nausea, constipation and abdominal pain, according to GoodRx.

Semaglutide drugs have pros and cons for employees and employers, and controlling health care costs over the long term isn’t as simple as just offering a pill. Long-term weight loss often includes lifestyle changes.

Oswald works with insurers, health care providers and pharmacy benefit managers to find the solution that is right for each individual business and its employees.

Contact me to take a deep dive into your benefits plan and find ways to improve how it is used by employees.

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