November 28, 2023

Many adults are generally interested in prescription weight-loss drugs — but not if the drugs aren’t covered by insurance, a new KFF survey found.

About half of adults, or 45%, said they are at least somewhat interested in taking a “safe, effective weight-loss drug.” However, just 16% of adults are still interested in taking weight-loss drugs if they’re not covered by insurance. In addition, KFF found that only 14% of adults are still interested in taking the drugs if they heard they could gain weight back after going off the drug, 16% would be interested if it wasn’t approved by the FDA for weight loss but was approved for another use, 23% would be interested if it was self-administered as a weekly injection and 44% would be interested if it could be taken as a pill.

“While about half of adults express interest in taking safe, effective prescription drugs for weight loss, some people are no longer interested after hearing additional information about these drugs,” KFF said.

The survey was conducted online and via telephone in July and included responses from 1,327 adults in the U.S.

KFF also discovered that 80% of adults believe that insurers should cover weight loss drugs for people who are overweight or obese. Another 53% of adults think that payers should cover the drugs for anyone who is interested in losing weight. If covering weight loss drugs means higher monthly insurance premiums, 50% of adults are still interested.

In addition to asking about weight loss drugs, the survey asked Americans about prescription drugs more generally. About 75% of adults said they trust pharmaceutical companies to create new drugs. However, only 22% of adults said they trust pharmaceutical companies to offer fair prices for drugs. About 83% of respondents said pharmaceutical profits are a big reason for why prescription drugs cost so much.

Due to the high cost of prescription drugs, 28% of adults said they’ve experienced some level of difficulty affording prescription drugs. Another 31% said they aren’t taking their medications as prescribed because of the cost. Lower income adults especially struggle with the cost of prescription drugs, KFF added.

Most adults, or 73%, think there should be more government regulation over the price of prescription drugs, while 13% believe there is the “right amount of regulation” and 14% think there is too much regulation.

However, while many adults think there should be more regulation of prescription drug prices, many don’t know about the recent Inflation Reduction Act, which includes efforts to reduce prescription drug costs in Medicare. Only 25% know that the Inflation Reduction Act caps monthly insulin costs at $35, 25% know that the federal government has to negotiate prices for some prescription drugs, 24% know that the law includes an annual limit on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, and 10% know that drug companies are penalized for raising prices faster than the rate of inflation.

Photo: puhimec, Getty Images


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