Costco Unveils Medical Weight Loss Subscription Program

3 min read

April 2, 2024 – Costco is entering the growing marketplace for medical weight loss, joining the likes of WeightWatchers and Noom amid booming interest in the new class of drugs known as GLP-1s.

The discount wholesale retailer today began offering a medical weight loss program featuring popular drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy. The membership-based wholesale retailer’s website describes the program as offering “expert clinical care” and “Costco pricing.”

For $179, subscribers receive 3 months of medical weight loss services from Costco’s partner, Sesame, building on a relationship with other fee-based services like primary care visits. The fee covers clinical meetings with a provider who is qualified to write prescriptions for weight loss medications, but the cost of any prescriptions would not be covered under the fee.

While marketing materials prominently feature the names of popular medicines like Ozempic, Wegovy, Zepbound, and Mounjaro, those drugs will only be prescribed “for clinically-eligible patients” and are “subject to the availability of the medication at the pharmacy of their choice,” a Sesame spokesperson told WebMD in an email.

The Costco offering sets up potential price competition for medical weight loss management visits with providers who can oversee care that may include the popular prescription medicines.

The pharmacy section of Costco’s website now says members can “Lose weight today. The affordable way” and describes the plan as a 3-month subscription through which “your clinician will design a program that’s right for you including prescriptions as appropriate (such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and others).” Clicking on the link within the Costco website takes members to Sesame's landing page.

Sesame describes itself as a health care system for uninsured people and those with high-deductible plans.

“We are witnessing important innovations in medically-supervised weight loss,” David Goldhill, MA, Sesame‘s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement provided by email to WebMD News. “Sesame’s unique model allows us not only to make high-quality specialty care like weight loss much more accessible and affordable, but also to empower clinicians to create care plans that are specific to – and appropriate for – each individual patient.”

Costco members who pay the $179 fee will select a health care provider for their first video meeting and can message the provider in between scheduled appointments, according to a news release. The provider will guide people in diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes, along with considering whether medications are needed.

More than 70% of people age 20 or older in the U.S. meet the criteria for overweight or obesity. There’s growing interest in taking medications to help with weight loss, particularly since the rise of the injectable drug Ozempic, which was approved by the FDA in 2021 for people with type 2 diabetes. Medicines from the same class of drugs as Ozempic (called GLP-1s) have since been approved for weight loss, and in clinical trials, typical weight loss was around 15% of a person’s body weight. 

Not everyone has such dramatic results, and the medicines pose the risk of side effects, like issues with the stomach or intestines. Some people who stop taking the medications regain weight, and studies are ongoing to better examine long-term outcomes for people who take the medications and compare results to other approaches such as weight loss surgery. 

Demand has often outpaced supply for some GLP-1s, prompting shortages. But they appear to be on a path to becoming a mainstay in health care. One GLP-1 drug, Wegovy, was recently recognized by the FDA, which acknowledged the drug reduces the risk of dying from heart problems like a heart attack or stroke among people with overweight or obesity.