Optum Rx to offer weight management program

Optum Rx is launching a new weight management and wellness support program for health plan sponsors, including employers, beginning Jan. 1.

Optum Rx Weight Engage will support health plans with designing benefits that drive better health outcomes and overall affordability, including for weight loss drugs, according to a Dec. 12 news release.

The program will start with a review of a client's coverage goals to tailor solutions around patient monitoring, motivation and support tools. A provider-guided program will then connect patients with an obesity management specialist to offer recommended treatments. A live coaching program will also be offered.

In October, UnitedHealth Group executives said the organization wants to lower the price of GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy, but it needs drug manufacturers to get on board.

"We're very positive about the potential for another tool in the toolbox to help folks manage their weight," CEO Andrew Witty said. "We recognize that has potential benefits, but we're struggling, and frankly our clients are struggling, with the list prices which have been demanded of these products in the U.S., which are running at about 10 times the level of prices paid in Western Europe." 

"We need the manufacturers to move. It's as simple as that. And we remain extremely open minded to any model that works," Mr. Witty said. 

UnitedHealthcare CEO Brian Thompson told investors that employers' attitudes toward the drugs are a "mixed bag," with some seeking to add coverage for weight-loss drugs and others backing off due to the price. Mr. Thompson said UnitedHealthcare is working with manufacturers to get value-based contracts for the drugs, basing pricing on outcomes and adherence levels, or full-risk contracts based on utilization rates. 

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