You are injured on the job and you go to a doctor who prescribes opioids for your pain. Your insurance company will cover all or part of the cost for those medicines. So why then, in states where medicinal marijuana is legal, won’t your insurance company cover this particular medicine?
Up until now insurance companies have denied coverage of claims for medical marijuana because cannabis continues to be a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it has “no perceived medicinal value” and is therefore federally illegal.
Recent decisions in Canada and New Jersey may have opened the door for insurance coverage for medical marijuana.
The Human Rights Board in Canada recently required a medical marijuana patient’s employee insurance plan to cover the costs of his cannabis treatments. Gordon Skinner had an on the job injury and a prescription from a doctor for medical cannabis. the board stated that denying his claim amounted to a prima facie case of discrimination. Basically, it means that the mere denial of coverage when there is a valid medical prescription is enough to enable a verdict or decision in and of itself, unless of course there is overwhelming rebuttal evidence to the contrary.
Here in the United States, a New Jersey court also required a workmen’s compensation insurer to pay for the cost of cannabis treatments, stating that “whether or not it should be prescribed for a patient in a state where it is legal to prescribe it, is a medical decision that is within the boundaries of the laws in the State of New Jersey”.
Over an eight week period time the cost of chemotherapy can be between $30,000-$40,000 while the cost of cannabis treatments over the same period of time is only $2,400-$3,000. This is not to compare the intended outcomes and differences of these treatments but only to show how the insurance companies may want to look at the bottom line before they automatically deny this type of coverage. And with the nation in an opioid crisis, insurance coverage for MMJ may even contribute to the healing of America.