Survey Reveals High Usage of GLP-1 Drugs for Chronic Conditions, But Affordability Remains a Concern

A recent survey conducted by KFF suggests that a significant proportion of U.S. adults have utilized medications like Ozempic and Mounjaro, primarily for managing chronic health issues.

According to the poll, one in eight adults in the United States (12 percent) have had experience with GLP-1 receptor agonists, with half of them currently using these medications.

Among those who reported using these drugs, the majority (62 percent) cited managing chronic conditions as their primary reason, while the remainder stated weight loss as their main motivation.

GLP-1 receptor agonists, such as semaglutide-based drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, are known for their ability to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce appetite.

While the survey indicates significant usage rates among individuals with conditions for which these drugs are prescribed—such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity—it also highlights potential challenges related to access and affordability.

Despite the efficacy of GLP-1 drugs, their high costs pose barriers for many patients, especially those without adequate insurance coverage.

The survey findings reveal that a considerable portion of insured adults who have used GLP-1 drugs have encountered difficulties affording them, with one in five reporting paying the full price themselves. Although most respondents indicated some insurance coverage for these medications, concerns about affordability persist.

Of particular concern is the potential underuse of GLP-1 drugs among older adults, especially for weight management purposes. Medicare’s lack of coverage for weight loss medications may contribute to this discrepancy, as evidenced by the low percentage of adults aged 65 and older who reported using GLP-1 drugs specifically for weight loss.

Furthermore, the survey highlights the issue of patients seeking GLP-1 drugs from unconventional sources, such as online platforms or non-medical facilities, indicating possible gaps in access to traditional healthcare channels.

Dr. Jody Dushay, an endocrinologist from Harvard Medical School, underscores the risks associated with obtaining medications from unauthorized sources, emphasizing the importance of accessing legitimate healthcare providers for prescriptions.

Overall, while GLP-1 drugs offer promising therapeutic benefits for managing chronic conditions, addressing affordability concerns and ensuring equitable access remain essential challenges in maximizing their potential impact on public health.