Does Insurance Pay for Medical Marijuana Prescriptions?

Medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. You can’t blame people for thinking that perhaps that means they can file medical marijuana prescriptions with their insurance company to cover the cost.

But you can’t. You can thank the federal government for that.

Medical Marijuana Prescriptions Coverage

While cannabis might be legal in more than half the states for medical purposes, it remains illegal at the federal level. And that means insurance companies won’t cover the cost of cannabis, even if a doctor recommends it. That includes CBD products that don’t even contain the THC that causes the “high” feeling from cannabis.

Schedule I Drug

For those who don’t know, marijuana has been listed as a Schedule I drug at the federal level since the 1970s. As a Schedule I drug, it’s listed among the “worst” of all drugs in the eyes of the federal government.

That means it is seen as harmful and with no medicinal value whatsoever. That’s despite the fact that more than half the states have found it does have value, and endless studies have indicated there are many potential medical uses for cannabis. That includes everything from controlling seizures to helping patients deal with depression.

Until the federal law changes, insurance is going to be an issue.

What Can You Do?

The obvious answer is pay for medical marijuana with cash from your own pocket, which is what thousands do every day in the states where medical marijuana is legal. Fortunately, there are some alternatives and programs that help reduce costs, but it depends on where you live.

Sliding Scales

Some states have created a sliding scale for the fee associated with getting a medical marijuana card, These at least reduce the cost of becoming a marijuana medical card recipient.

Secondary Purpose

In New York, a creative law is requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of doctor’s visit even if it involved getting a marijuana prescription – as long as the primary reason for the visit wasn’t to get a medical marijuana prescription.

Workers Compensation Claims

A man in New Jersey recently won a court case in which a judge ordered insurance to pay for the medical marijuana he was prescribed after injured while working at a lumber mill, according to High Times.

Both New Mexico and Maine have also passed regulations that side with workers who receive medical marijuana prescriptions for on-the-job injuries. While this obviously doesn’t help everyone, it does offer an option for those injured on the job (depending on where you live).

The bottom line is that medical marijuana prescriptions, for now, will have to be paid out of the pocket of the patient. Much like the issues surrounding banking services for those who operate businesses in the marijuana industry, nothing is likely to change unless the U.S. Congress takes steps to make medical marijuana legal at the national level.

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