Although medical cannabis has been legal in Canada for almost 20 years now, it’s still considered something of an outlier when it comes to health. Until recently, there have been few health insurance policies that cover medical cannabis. Things are finally starting to turn around, however, as more people discover just how effective medical marijuana may be for treating a wide array of different conditions.
If you’ve been wondering about cannabis and health insurance, here’s what you should know.
The Traditional Stance
If you’re looking at health insurance provided by employer or privately, you’ll need to note the “traditional” stance on cannabis. Although things are beginning to change, many insurance policies treat cannabis as an illegal drug, not a medication.
This stems, in part, from the status of cannabis in Canada. It is currently illegal, the ACMPR not withstanding. Many private health insurance providers have been less accommodating when it comes to providing coverage for medical marijuana. As noted, things are finally beginning to change.
Do You Have Coverage?
It can sometimes be difficult to determine if you have coverage for cannabis in your health insurance policy. It may count under prescription medication, but it just as easily may not. Some insurance policies may have a special clause designed specifically for medical marijuana. Others may roll it in under “other” medical expenses.
Read through the fine print to see if you can determine whether you’d be eligible to have your cannabis treatment covered by your insurance. If you can’t determine it, you may want to inquire with your employer or your insurance provider.
What If You’re Not Covered?
You may hesitate to talk to your insurer in case they don’t cover medical marijuana. What if they don’t cover it, and using it also makes you ineligible for coverage? Some insurance policies have been punitive in the past, and many medical marijuana patients have decided not to disclose their authorizations in case it voids their insurance.
If you need to inquire, it’s best to ask before you get your authorization. This way, you know whether your policy will not only cover your authorization but if using medical cannabis would also void your health insurance. Why pay for insurance you can’t use?
If your insurance is provided by your employer, talk to them about coverage. They may be willing or able to ask the insurer if employees using medical cannabis can claim those expenses or if its use would invalidate their insurance. You may not be the only one who’s asked.
Find a New Policy
If the policy you currently have doesn’t cover medical marijuana or will stop covering you if you have a medical marijuana authorization, it’s time to look for a new policy. Some health insurers are now restructuring their plans to incorporate medical marijuana and to get rid of old restrictions against use.
If your employer provides your insurance, ask them about adding medical marijuana coverage to the plan. Again, you may not be the only one who’s inquired. You might be surprised to learn your employer has been considering this move anyway. Your inquiry might finally push them to make the change.
If your employer is unwilling or unable to add a clause about medical cannabis to the health insurance policy and use invalidates your coverage, ask the employer if you can opt out of the plan.
Finally, if you’re concerned about disclosing your medical cannabis authorization to your employer or your insurer, shop around and find your own coverage to fall back on.
Using medical cannabis is legal, but many employers and health insurers continue not to treat it that way.