- Hammond Lewis
Does Insurance Cover Medical Marijuana?
With West Virginia in the process of legalizing medical marijuana, many new patients shopping at the dispensary will wonder if their insurance can help cover the cost of their medication.
While insurance companies or programs typically cover a handful of prescribed medications, medical marijuana sits in a different category for insurers, and as a result, patients will not be receiving help with the cost of cannabis from their health insurance.
The reason why insurance companies do not cover cannabis is simple, but with federal legalization of cannabis potentially looming, will insurance companies take a different look at cannabis in the future?
In this article, we’ll talk about insurance and medical marijuana, what may change in the future, and what’s likely to stay the same.
Why Doesn’t Insurance Cover Medical Marijuana?
Cannabis Is Still Considered Illegal at the Federal Level
The biggest obstacle for insurance companies looking to cover medical marijuana is the fact that cannabis is still considered a schedule I drug by our federal government.
The feds consider anything in schedule I as having “no currently accepted medical use”, so insurance companies will not cover it.
However, several substances in schedule I have shown high potential for medicinal use, most obviously cannabis, for which research has consistently shown extraordinary medical benefits.
Having cannabis on schedule I effectively prohibits any insurance company from looking at cannabis as a potential drug to cover and keeps cannabis off-the-table for all insurance companies.
Bigger Problems for Insurance Companies Looking to Cover Cannabis
Although the absurd federal scheduling for cannabis is certainly the biggest wall to climb for insurance companies, it’s not the only roadblock.
FDA approval is a huge component in drug manufacturing and insurance coverage, and drugs need to be assigned to an insurance company’s formulary before they’ll be eligible for coverage.
Each health insurance plan has their own drug formulary, or a list of medications approved for coverage. In order for cannabis to be covered by insurance, a company would need to add marijuana to their formulary, which usually requires FDA approval.
Getting a drug approved through the FDA is a long and arduous process that hinges more on proprietary and exclusive rights rather than medical efficacy.
Once a drug receives FDA approval, the company seeking the approval is typically granted a window of time where they have the exclusive right to manufacture the drug and bring it to market.
Since cannabis can’t technically undergo this process, companies would need to forego their window and receive FDA approval for a particular kind of cannabis product, such as the case with Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet, which are synthetic or chemical copies of cannabinoids.
Will Insurance Cover Medical Marijuana When it’s Legalized?
Legalization Likely Won’t Change Insurance Coverage For a While
Considering the challenges insurance companies face for FDA approval and creating a proprietary cannabis product, legalization won’t make it too much easier for insurance companies to cover cannabis.
In fact, legalization could do just the opposite.
Legalizing recreational cannabis would effectively remove it from consideration as a prescription drug, further separating it from insurance coverage.
On the positive side, recreational cannabis would mean considerably lower prices, so insurance coverage may no longer be a concern, especially if you’re able to grow your own cannabis.
As it stands right now, many states don’t consider medical marijuana a prescription, rather, a physician can write a recommendation for the use of medical marijuana.
This benefits patients in many ways because instead of going to a doctor to receive a prescription for only one specific cannabis product, patients can receive a recommendation to use any approved cannabis products to treat their symptoms.
However, this may further complicate how a drug company could consider cannabis as a “prescription drug”, which isn’t likely under a medical marijuana program or recreational legalization.
Private Cannabis Insurance Companies Could Become Reality in the Future
The best case for saving on the cost of cannabis isn’t insurance coverage, it’s legalization and home growing.
Legalizing the recreational use of cannabis with the option of home cultivation effectively removes all the middle-man costs associated with the high price of cannabis.
Although current insurance companies cannot cover marijuana, private insurance companies who exclusively cover medical marijuana at dispensaries could become a reality after federal legalization.
Especially considering the many states that choose compromise or limited medical marijuana programs, a private cannabis insurance company could benefit many patients who would otherwise be unable to access affordable cannabis.
With federal legalization, new opportunities could arise that would allow for businesses to cover some of the cost of cannabis for patients with certain conditions or on a private membership basis, and there will likely be companies who seize this opportunity once it becomes available.
Get Your Medical Marijuana Certification in
You can get your medical marijuana certification online in West Virginia by consulting with one of our compassionate physicians. Our doctors can help you navigate the way to your medical marijuana card and help you get your recommendation online!
As a qualifying patient with a medical marijuana card, you can legally possess up to a 30-day supply of cannabis without fear of legal repercussions.
You can even get your medical marijuana card online from the comfort of your own home with West Virginia Marijuana Card!
To get your medical marijuana card online in West Virginia, simply schedule your medical marijuana evaluation appointment today and get access to legal marijuana products available at dispensaries!
Being a West Virginia medical marijuana patient allows you the freedom to take your medication the right way for you. We’re dedicated to helping patients every step of the way! Feel free to give us a call at 877-303-8424 and we can answer your questions about getting a medical marijuana card in West Virginia.
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
West Virginia Marijuana Card’s mission is to help everyone achieve
wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana.
Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for
our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at 877-303-8424, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out West Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in West Virginia.