Marijuana’s Impact on the Health Care Industry

by | Dec 21, 2018

Millions of people across the country use weed to combat several health issues like nausea, muscle stiffness, and more. Those same people also wonder if their health insurance can offer some coverage. The short answer? No, health insurance companies won’t cover medical marijuana.

Even if you don’t smoke your weed and opt for alternatives like CBD oil or synthetic marijuana for medical purposes, your insurance company still won’t cover it.

Leafly states that CBD oil is often used to treat these issues:

  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Opioid withdrawal
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Pain and inflammation
  • PTSD and anxiety
  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders

Many people elect to use medical marijuana in place of prescription drugs that focus on mental health, especially in states where weed is legal. For example, drugs like Wellbutrin, Prozac, and Xanax are being cast aside to avoid nasty side effects and addiction. Instead, people are self-medicating with marijuana.

This move toward holistic medication and away from pharmaceuticals is helping to dissipate the stigma surrounding marijuana use. In fact, the FDA approved the first cannabis-derived prescription medication in the US. The medication is derived from CBD oil and treats rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

In states where marijuana is legal, people rely less on prescription drugs, and therefore, pay less for healthcare. A study by QuoteWizard found that people in states without legal weed are two times as likely to shop for health insurance than those in legal medical marijuana states. A reliance on prescription drugs means more expensive health insurance plans, which causes people to shop for health insurance more often.

Even if you live in one of the 31 states and territories where pot is legal, you won’t be able to find a company to insure your bud. That’s because marijuana is federally illegal. Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a “Schedule 1” drug. This classification means that marijuana, under the eyes of federal law, is “not currently accepted medical use.”

No type of insurance will cover medical marijuana.

So, you’re out of luck with employer insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and government-run health insurance.

Federal law isn’t the only thing that keeps marijuana off the coverage list. The FDA hasn’t approved weed as a safe and effective medical treatment. Health insurance companies will rarely cover treatments that the FDA hasn’t approved. The lack of FDA approval also limits doctors and physicians from prescribing marijuana. Although, thanks to the First Amendment, they can still recommend and authorize it. Even if weed does become federally legal and the FDA eventually approves it, that doesn’t mean health insurance companies will cover it.

The main reason the FDA has yet to approve marijuana for medical use is because there is a lack of clinical research surrounding the topic. And that clinical research won’t happen until growing, distributing, and using weed is federally legal.

Navigating the health care system is difficult. Finding medication that works for your body can be even harder. If you think you could benefit from using medical marijuana, speak with your doctor or physician before using it. Also, keep in mind that your health insurance company won’t cover any medical marijuana expenses

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