While interest in weight loss medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro is high, potential drawbacks, including cost and insurance coverage, may prevent people from taking them.
In a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Tracking Poll conducted from July 11 to 19, researchers surveyed 1,327 adults in the United States to determine how people felt about weight loss medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro. Respondents were also asked about their views on prescription drug prices and pharmaceutical companies.
Among the respondents, about six out of ten report they are currently attempting to lose weight, with 28% trying to lose more than 20 pounds. Moreover, 39% of adults surveyed say a healthcare provider has told them they have a high BMI or obesity in the past five years.
While the poll found that most people have heard about Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, only 4% are currently taking a prescription drug to lose weight. Still, among respondents presently trying to shed pounds, 59% report they would be interested in weight loss medications — if they were safe and effective.
Yet, if insurance did not cover the weight loss drug's cost or it was not FDA-approved for weight loss specifically, only 16% would still be interested in taking it. Moreover, only 14% of respondents would still take the medication even if they heard they could regain weight after stopping the drug.
The public's interest in taking weight loss medication is also impacted by how it's administered. For example, 44% of respondents said they would be interested in the drug if it were in pill form, while 23% still showed interest if it was administered by weekly injection.
Drug costs and insurance coverage
The poll also found that 80% of people surveyed think insurance should cover the cost of weight loss medications for those with a higher BMI or obesity. Moreover, 53% say insurance should cover the cost for anyone who wants to shed pounds.
In addition, adults in the U.S. are feeling the pressure of drug prices overall. According to the poll, 28% of adults surveyed say they find it challenging to afford prescription medications, and 31% say drug costs prevented them from taking their medications as prescribed by their healthcare provider.
However, only about 25% of respondents are aware of recent drug regulations, including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), that caps insulin costs and annual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for people with Medicare.
Still, a large percentage of respondents (83%) believe pharmaceutical companies' profits are driving the price of prescriptions. Moreover, 73% say more drug price regulations are needed.
The poll also revealed that while 66% of U.S. adults believe "a lot" or "somewhat" that drug manufacturers offer reliable information about the side effects and safety of their medications, only 48% feel the same about how quickly pharmaceutical companies inform the public when a safety concern arises.
KFF is an independent nonpartisan source for health policy research and polling. The foundation's public opinion researchers designed and analyzed the survey and collected the data online and through phone conversations in English and Spanish. The researchers note that the margin of sampling error is around three percentage points of the total sample.