Medicare Coverage of Weight-Loss Drugs Could Bloat National Debt, CBO Says

March 25, 2024

Medicare coverage of anti-obesity medications (AOM) — now CMS approved for cardiac patients — could drive up the federal deficit over the next decade, according to a new report issued by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

While widespread use of the drugs could actually decrease spending on other obesity-related healthcare, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, those savings wouldn’t be enough to cover the cost of some AOMs at their current prices of $1,100-$1,300 per month, given the enormous number of prescriptions being written, the report said.

Other than the monthly cost of GLP-1 agonists, the report was short on firm numbers. But according to another CBO report issued last September, net sales of all GLP-1 agonists, which include drugs to treat obesity, totaled $5.9 billion during the second quarter of 2022. Semaglutide sales alone were $3.4 billion that quarter, and sales of drugs specifically indicated only for weight loss topped $1 billion.

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