More than half the United States has legalized medical marijuana, now totaling to twenty-nine states and three territories and eight states have also legalized recreational marijuana. Unfortunately, since marijuana remains illegal on the federal level health insurance will not cover one’s medial marijuana treatments.
Federal law still deems marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act and since medical treatment must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, health insurance companies will not cover the costs of medical marijuana until it’s no longer classified in the same group as heroin.
There are some insurance companies that provide coverage for legal alternatives to medical marijuana. For example, for chemotherapy or AIDS patients substitutes like the synthetic THC Marinol for nausea and appetite loss may be offered. However, these alternative synthetic drugs have more side effects than traditional medical marijuana.
For now, U.S. health insurers will not be covering the costs of medical marijuana treatments. However, some states are offering opportunities to their residents to help lessen the financial burden their treatment may impose. New York has ordered the state’s insurance companies to cover the costs for any medical visit involving medical marijuana certification, yet the main visit cannot be for certification itself.
Recently, states’ Worker’s Compensation boards have ruled in favor of medical marijuana patients looking for coverage. A New Jersey man injured on the job went after reimbursement for medical marijuana that was prescribed to him while enrolled in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. Not only did the judge reward him his reimbursement for past treatments but ruled for reimbursement for future treatments due to his chronic pain from his work-related injury.
In New Mexico, an injured worker must first receive a marijuana prescription for “reasonable and necessary care” and pay out of pocket for their treatments. Afterwards, health insurance companies must reimburse them for the costs of treatments. Similarly, Maine has issued similar rules. But, not all medical marijuana patients can find benefits in Worker’s Compensation claims. For most, health insurance companies still won’t pay up for a marijuana prescription.
Fortunately, several dispensaries offer discounts or sales on their products. Certain medical products may go on sale, depending on the day and also the location of the store. This may not be as good as being covered by your health insurance, but it can certainly help patients from digging deep into their pockets just for some medicine.