Will Health Insurance Pay for Medical Marijuana?

The benefits of marijuana have been debated for decades. In recent years, it has been determined that marijuana is a valuable treatment for a wide range of health conditions and that it can offer several benefits for patients. It is been proven to be an effective treatment for glaucoma, it eases cancer pain, controls the symptoms that are associated with inflammatory bowel disease, controls seizures in epileptic patients, eases severe anxiety, and even helps patients who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And these are just some of the benefits that marijuana can offer.

health insurance medical marijuanaGiven the high medicinal value that marijuana offers, medical professionals and patients alike, as well as researchers, many locations in the United States now approve marijuana for medicinal use. But, while the debate over the medical benefits that marijuana may be more in favor of those who support the use of this natural drug, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of health insurance provider covering the cost of medical marijuana.

If you suffer from a medical condition and you have recently learned that medical marijuana could be beneficial, you are probably wondering if your health insurance plan will assist with the cost. After all, your healthcare company covers the cost of other medicinal medications, so why shouldn’t it include medical marijuana?

Your Health Insurance and Coverage in General

A lot of what your health insurance plan will cover comes down to the type of plan that you have. In regard to medications, you are required to find out which ones are covered by your health insurance plan. Usually, once you are enrolled, your health insurance provider will provide you with information about what medications they will cover, including brand-name and generic medications.

So, Is Medical Marijuana Covered by Health Insurance?

Since medical marijuana is used to treat medical conditions, many patients automatically assume that their health insurance provider will cover the cost.

While it might make sense for health insurance companies to cover the cost of medical marijuana, that is not the case. To date, this medication is not covered by any health insurance companies. The reason? – Even though there is a growing body of evidence that supports the medical benefits of cannabis, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance under the federal government. According the federal government, drugs of this class do not offer any medical value and are considered highly addictive, which means that Schedule 1 drugs cannot be legally prescribed. Therefore, if you have a government funded health insurance plan, such as Medicaid or Medicare, and you are prescribed medical marijuana, you will have to pay for the cost out of your own pocket.

What About Private Insurance Plans?

Even if you have a private insurance plan that you pay for yourself, your health insurance provider will not pay for the cost of medical marijuana. Though the evidence supporting the medical benefits of marijuana is growing, it is not approved for medical use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As such, private insurance companies will not cover medical marijuana, the same as they will not cover any other medication that has not been approved by the FDA.

What About The Future?

Given the increasing awareness of the myriad of medicinal benefits that marijuana can provide, attempts to seek approval for health insurance coverage are being made. For instance, in the State of New York, the State Department of Financial Services, Health Bureau, now requires insurance providers to pay for office visits that are related to medical marijuana for those that they cover. But, while the office visits may be covered, the medical marijuana itself does not have to be covered.

There has been a lot of legislation in recent years that looks to support the benefits of medical marijuana. As legislation changes, it is hopeful that insurance companies will start covering the cost cannabis for medical use.

What Can You Do?

Since medical marijuana is not covered by health insurance, there are two options available to you:

  • Pay for medicinal cannabis out of your own pocket
  • Use other medications that your insurance company will cover

The cost of medicinal marijuana varies greatly. There are several factors that will affect the cost, including where you live, the condition you are suffering from, and the strain and amount of cannabis you need. The average cost of 1 gram of medical marijuana sold by government programs is roughly $15.

If you do not wish to pay for medicinal marijuana out of your own pocket, then you could consider taking an FDA approved synthetic cannabinoid that your health insurance company will cover, such as Cesamet and Marinol. However, if you do decide to take these medications, speak to your insurance company to make sure that they are covered.

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