Despite the fact that medical cannabis has been legalized in 33 states, still it has numerous challenges for patients and physicians, as well as for businesses. One of the most critical challenges is that patients lack health insurance coverage for medical cannabis. Due to the lack of health insurance coverage, patients are liable to pay medical expenses on their own for treatment.
Recreational Cannabis and Health Insurance
For recreational use of cannabis, the policy is considered logical as health insurance companies are not obliged to contribute to products that degrade human health or have adverse side effects.
Medical Cannabis and Health Insurance
Nonetheless, it is evident from research findings that medical cannabis is beneficial in the treatment of diseases such as chronic pain, relieving stress, cancer symptoms etc. The use of cannabis for medical purposes is fair enough as it adds some value in improving human health. A lot of research is still required to fill in the existing gaps in this regard. In the case of medical treatments, it is needed to figure out how to ensure that cannabis is easily accessible to patients. A fundamental element in ensuring the above mentioned point is health insurance coverage.
Reasons to reimburse expenses for medical cannabis use
Following are the three crucial reasons for which health insurance companies should cover expenses for the medical cannabis use in order to financially support patients.
- Insurance companies can guide the safe and rational use of medical cannabis by aligning coverage of expenses for its use if evidence based data is provided in this regard. According to laws, physicians can recommend medical cannabis across a wide range of medical conditions, but only some of which are based on proper evidence. Coverage decisions can strengthen the evidence-informed use of medical cannabis as well as these can be employed to discourage the contrary case.
- Insurance companies can enhance the transparency and visibility of medical cannabis use for health care providers. However patients usually require a prescription to get medical cannabis, but they can obtain without acknowledgement of the primary care provider. In the case of insurance coverage, proper documentation and records can help health care providers to get informed regarding patient’s medical cannabis use.
- Health insurance coverage can assist in acquiring crowdsourced data from distinct sources regarding advantages and risks associated with medical use of cannabis. Reporting and data analytics would also give valuable observational insights that could lead contemporary research.
Types of health insurance coverage for medical cannabis
Health insurance coverage of medical cannabis can be provided in the following two forms depending upon the nature of the present case.
- In case of moderate or strong evidence: If there exists solid evidence, health insurance companies should cover the costs of medical cannabis directly, as they function for other medications. For instance, if the use of medical cannabis to cure neuropathic pain is supported by strong research evidence and medical prescription. Similarly, for the indications of the health problems such anorexia, insomnia, nausea, and particularly aftereffects of chemotherapy, direct insurance coverage should be provided as the costs of medical cannabis ranges from hundreds of dollars in such situations.
- In case of less robust evidence: For the cases in which the evidence is less robust, health insurance companies could cover costs of medical cannabis use through indirect means such as health savings accounts.
Health insurance companies have a favorable chance to promote the appropriate use of medical cannabis by compensating costs for well-supported evidence-based cases. In this way, patient care can be improved and it can open doors for further advanced research opportunities in this domain.