Background: In January 2024, the North Carolina State Health Plan Board of Trustees voted to end coverage of obesity medications for state employees enrolled in the NC state employee health plan, effective April 1, 2024. The Board cited short-term financial concerns as its rationale for this decision rather than considering the long-term investment, savings and health improvements that obesity medications can offer to people seeking treatment for obesity. Treating obesity early can prevent various life-threatening conditions associated with obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and several cancers – all leading causes of preventable death in the United States and significant financial strains for health plans. More than 34% of North Carolina residents are affected by obesity and another 35% by overweight. Expanding access to safe, effective, and comprehensive obesity treatment options will allow patients and their healthcare providers additional tools in their journey to improved health. Now is the time for change – prioritizing obesity care is good for businesses, residents and the state economy. We must start treating obesity the same as other chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. This decision is a step backward in the fight to improve the lives of people with obesity, and it is a clear example of weight-based discrimination, which continues to drive outdated and unscientific obesity care policies. Since the vote to discontinue coverage for obesity medications, the Board, pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) and obesity medication manufacturers all have a role to play in finding a solution to restore coverage for obesity medications. OAC recommends the following solutions:
  • Drug manufacturers MUST make obesity medications more affordable, through consumer discount programs and patient assistant programs.
  • Pharmacy benefit managers MUST negotiate fair deals and maximize rebates and discounts that reach patients when they pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy.
  • The Board MUST prioritize obesity care and treat this disease like we treat other chronic diseases by covering proven treatment options.
Take Action Now: Use OAC’s advocacy tool below to sign our letter of support urging key decision-makers in the State Employee Health Plan, PBM, and obesity medication manufacturers to make obesity medications accessible to state workers who can greatly benefit from these treatment options in their journey to improved health. It’s Easy to Advocate: Sign our letter of support today by filling your information in below!