How Medical Marijuana And Health Insurance Works
Ask any doctor, researcher, or even an ordinary citizen for their opinion of medical marijuana, and you’ll get mixed responses. However, no one can deny its efficacy in the help of easing the symptoms of multiple diseases and even helping cancer patients.
That’s why several researchers have run studies and clinical trials to prove that cannabis isn’t as harmful as many think it is. It’s partly due to their findings that policymakers are now starting to review the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
Schedule I drugs are ones not yet proven to have medical benefits and/or ones at risk for abuse. We know enough nowadays to question if marijuana is actually one of these schedule I drugs.
For the people who suffer from debilitating diseases, making cannabis legal for medical use would be a huge help. With certain states becoming illegal, they have found it is helping patients who need it. It would also have important effects on medical marijuana and health insurance providers’ policies.
Questions You May Have about Medical Marijuana and Health Insurance
If you’re one of the people who suffer from diseases like AIDS, MS, cancer, and more you’ve probably already heard about the wonders of medical marijuana when it comes to treating your symptoms.
So now you might be wondering: can my health insurance cover the cost of buying medical marijuana for my condition? This and several other important questions on medical marijuana and health insurance will be answered here.
Is Medical Marijuana Covered by ANY Health Insurance Plan?
Straight answer: No, your health insurance will most likely not cover your medical marijuana purchase. This is due to insurers’ fears of having their license revoked since cannabis is illegal according to federal laws.
And it’s not just the purchase of the drug itself. Doctor consultations with the intent of asking for a medical marijuana consent form won’t be covered by your health insurance either.
This is even though both Medicare and Medicaid acknowledge the efficacy of cannabis in treating myriad symptoms.
To add to the irony, we also already know the drug’s potential economic benefits for healthcare. According to research conducted in 2017 by the Health Affairs journal, once they finally cover medical marijuana in their policy, Medicaid could save as much as $1.01 billion in fee-for-service prescriptions.
That’s because marijuana is cheaper to produce than many synthetic drugs. This makes it a better economic alternative for most people and for medical companies.
Still, most insurers won’t cover it, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for help with your purchase. What about a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) instead? After all, you probably bought them to cover the costs of medical emergencies that aren’t included in your health insurance.
Usually, you can use HSAs and FSAs to pay for your doctor’s visits to get a medical marijuana recommendation. However, you may still have to check on the company to be sure.
You also still can’t use HSAs and FSAs for your actual cannabis purchase. It’s still illegal for them to cover that particular expense.
It’s not advisable to go behind your policy’s back here, by the way. If you do, you might end up paying the income taxes of the misused funds and more due to penalties. In short, it might end up costing you more in the long run.
Is Medical Marijuana Approved by Doctors?
A fair number of healthcare professionals are still skeptical about the legitimacy of the numerous studies that show the benefits of medical marijuana. That’s why legislators and policy-makers can’t be confident yet about legalizing or when they do legalize it certain rules apply.
But there are others who’ve had a change of heart. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and one of the original opponents to the legalization of marijuana, changed his stance while creating the documentary entitled “WEED”.
Upon conducting his research for the film, he found that medical marijuana does have legitimate medicinal properties. He apologized for his antagonism about the subject through a CNN article.
Aside from Gupta, at least 70 other medical professionals have formally acknowledged the benefits of medical marijuana. They, along with the members of Americans for Safe Access, have made an appeal to remove cannabis off the Schedule I drug list.
It’s something they’ve been advocating for a long time.
Can We See Health Insurance Covering Medical Marijuana in the Future?
Americans for Safe Access filed an appeal for the reclassification of marijuana in October 2012. Despite losing the battle, the organization’s bold move sparked a discussion about the taboo topic.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the opposing party in the appeal, eventually opened an inquiry about reclassifying marijuana. It was four years after the dismissal of the petition.
Thanks to this and other developments, advocates of medical marijuana are hoping a change is in the wind. Recently, even the judicial system has been creating precedents in providing medical cannabis programs for injuries sustained in the workplace.
For example, in 2017, a New Jersey judge ruled in favor of a lumber worker who appealed that his company should cover the costs of the medical marijuana he used to relieve the neuropathic pain in his hands.
Are There Alternatives for Medical Marijuana That Are Covered by Health Insurance?
Yes, there are. There are FDA-approved drugs that contain synthetic Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary substance responsible for most of marijuana’s benefits. Dronabinol and nabilone, both generic names for cannabinoids, are drugs you can buy using your doctor’s prescription.
Dronabinol and nabilone can alleviate chemotherapy symptoms such as nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. They can also stimulate the appetite, which is helpful for people who suffer from weight loss brought by AIDS.
Because these are synthetic, side effects can occur. In the first few days of treatment, you may occasionally experience dizziness, abdominal pain, or the feeling of being “high”. To help counteract these effects, try to stand up slowly from sitting or lie down for a while.
Take note, by the way, that cannabinoids are Schedule III drugs. Thus, there’s a good chance that your health insurance covers them.
Can I Still Get Medical Marijuana Elsewhere?
There are 33 states that have already legalized the use of medical marijuana, and as of now more to become legal. However, because it’s not yet FDA-approved, strict guidelines are set in place for sellers and buyers.
When looking for a dispensary to get your medical marijuana, you must look for the following documents to know it is a medical cannabis facility:
- A seller’s permit – This signifies that they’re allowed to sell any product or service.
- A cannabis dispensary license – This is obviously a given.
- City or county license – This is authorization from the local authorities for the business.
- State bureau license – This should be displayed by the dispensary if the state you’re in has in fact legalized marijuana.
A dispensary business has to go through a rigorous screening process to get these documents. Otherwise, their business will be considered illegal and unauthorized.
Getting a Medical Marijuana Card: What Makes You Qualified?
Patients who need to buy cannabis should also meet specific criteria. This may vary depending on the state.
Some states even require buyers to have a medical marijuana card. How can you get your hands on one of these cards? There are certain qualifications.
The Eligible Ailments
Each state has a list of medical conditions that a patient must have to qualify for a medical marijuana card. Below are the common diseases that you can find on the list in every state:
- Cancer (particularly those that are in chemotherapy)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Tourette’s syndrome
Some states have longer lists and may or may not include ailments like hepatitis C, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and muscular dystrophy in them, to name a few.
The Legal Documents
Some states require you to be 18 years old and above to obtain a medical marijuana card. Your document should have your birthdate plus proof of address to show that you’re a resident of that state.
For minors, a parent or legal guardian can apply for a medical marijuana card for the patient. They must also provide a document that certifies their guardianship of the child.
Tangible requirements may vary from state to state. Before applying, ensure that you have all the documents on hand first by checking your state’s requirements online.
The Doctor’s Approval
A licensed medical doctor should sign your medical marijuana form signifying that the substance is the only option you have at the moment.
This may be the most challenging step since not a lot of doctors allow this action. It could be due to fear of criticism from their colleagues, personal beliefs, or other reasons.
It depends on your situation, but a medical marijuana form from a licensed doctor can cost. Remember that health insurance doesn’t cover it, after all.
So how much should you prepare to spend? Again, it depends where you are and what your doctor requires, but you may have to shell out as much as $300 for a legal medical marijuana card.
Final Thoughts on Medical Marijuana and Health Insurance
We’ve already noted that medical marijuana isn’t currently covered by health insurance. However, this doesn’t mean that it will stay that way forever.
Things may change in the future for medical marijuana and health insurance. One day, your coverage may actually extend to the cannabis you use to palliate your ailment’s symptoms.
Until then, you can either go for legal alternatives like dronabinol or simply pay for cannabis out of pocket. To do the latter, you usually need a medical marijuana card. This allows you to buy cannabis from an authorized dispensary in states where marijuana is legal.
Before anything else, familiarize yourself with the specific laws about medical marijuana in your state—the list of acceptable conditions, the requirements, the location of dispensaries, and the fees involved, among others.
AccuDoc Urgent Care clinic can also be of help. Aside from providing various healthcare services, we also give medical advice, recommendations, products, and other information related to medical marijuana. You can book a doctors appointment with us, which we will recommend you help and if needed a medical marijuana prescription. Which you then can take to get your medical marijuana card in Ohio, and purchase medical marijuana through a dispensary.Back to Home