Medical marijuana is legal in nearly 70% of US. The amount of clinical research done on the health benefits and healing power of cannabis has contributed to a growing list of studies and evidence which support the use of medical marijuana in medication. Even though medical marijuana is known to ease effects of many illnesses, there is still some debate about it.
However, many people suffering from debilitating conditions and illnesses like cancer, migraines, and chronic pain have to cover the cost of their medical marijuana treatment themselves because unfortunately, it is not covered under healthcare insurance. However, legalizing cannabis for medical usage would be of huge help to such patients who really need it. It would also impact the research being done in medical marijuana field and insurance sector.
In one word – No. Your health insurance is not likely to cover any treatment under medical marijuana or any consultation that you may take for medical marijuana treatment in Tampa. The major reason behind this could be that insurers fear that their license would be revoked and they might be prosecuted since marijuana is illegal under federal law, even though they would agree on the benefits of marijuana in treating many symptoms. This is ironic, since the medical fraternity is very well aware about the positive economic effects of marijuana for the healthcare sector. This is because marijuana is cheaper to produce and costs much less than many synthetic drugs.
Still, there are quite a few reasons why insurance companies won’t cover any treatment with marijuana.
Firstly, cannabis is called a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act which the Federal government described “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Schedule I category comprises of the most dangerous drugs that have the potential for extreme psychological and physical dependence. Since marijuana falls under this category, health insurance industry doesn’t consider it eligible for insurance despite contrary evidence.
Secondly, private health insurance providers along with governmental insurance providers generally cover only FDA approved drugs. Since marijuana is not FDA approved, insurance companies don’t cover it in their insurance plans, despite some of the synthetic marijuana products being approved by the FDA like Marinol and Syndros. Both the drugs fall under Schedule III drugs and fall under acceptable medical usage.
Moreover, health insurance providers rely on the Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code to refute medical coverage for cannabis which is not lawfully recognized as a medicine which is eligible for federal tax deduction.
Despite the governmental barriers, there have been instances where a medical marijuana patient has been able to procure insurance coverage in certain jurisdictions. Last year, the New York State ordered insurers to cover any medical visit that involves a medical marijuana certificate on the condition that the purpose of visiting the doctor is not just obtaining the certification. However, the insurers were not required to cover the cost of purchasing cannabis by the patient.
In another incident, a New Jersey administrative law judge ordered a workers compensation insurance carrier to reimburse all cannabis purchases made by a man who got injured on the job and the doctor recommended medical cannabis to manage pain. This influenced similar decisions in Maine and New Mexico as well.
In the Netherlands, insurers cover cannabis on case basis (with patients suffering from specific conditions) and in Germany (where medical cannabis was legalized all across in 2017) insurers are supposed to cover cannabis treatment costs under law. In Canada as well, health insurers have begun to cover medical marijuana purchases.
The above two instances were just an example of how the wholesale prohibition of marijuana on federal level is slowly fading away. While the US is still figuring out what decision to make, in several other nations, insurers are slowly warming up to cannabis coverage.
Till the time, anything is done on a concrete level to legalize marijuana treatment; it is best that you familiarize yourself with your state jurisdiction on this or contact us to get a personal marijuana card and recommendations regarding the best marijuana doctors available in your area.