Is Medical Marijuana Covered by Insurance?

For some patients, cannabis has the ability to replace many prescription medications for things like pain, inflammation, nausea, and anxiety. Your health insurance covers traditional prescriptions for these conditions and symptoms, so why wouldn’t it cover cannabis? Especially when it works as well as or better than many pharmaceuticals. If you’re wondering about insurance coverage and other logistics when it comes to medical cannabis in Maryland, keep reading because we’ve got answers.

Does Insurance Cover Medical Marijuana?

If you’re wondering “does insurance cover medical marijuana,” unfortunately, the answer is no. Even if your doctor recommends cannabis as a treatment and you live in a state where it’s legal like Maryland, your insurance company cannot pay for the recommended medication.

does insurance cover medical marijuana 1

The reason?

Insurance companies are in a bit of a bind when it comes to cannabis because of the law. Even if the companies themselves recognized the effectiveness of cannabis and wanted to cover it, the Food and Drug Administration would put the kibosh on the deal because they haven’t approved cannabis for any indication.

By law, private insurance companies and programs like Medicaid can only cover FDA-approved drugs. The FDA oversees drug regulation and puts drugs through an approval process before they can officially be considered a medication. Otherwise, the product is considered a “health supplement” rather than a drug, and therefore receives no oversight or regulation from the FDA. It’s a way to protect the public and distinguish legitimate medicine from snake oil and quack remedies.

While this kind of protection is great in theory, it can end up preventing people from accessing the medication they need when the federal government is behind the times. And it means medical cannabis patients are out of luck in terms of getting their medication covered by insurance.

does insurance cover medical marijuana 2

It also doesn’t help that cannabis is still federally classified as a Schedule 1 drug, defined as having zero medical value and a high danger of addiction. Hopefully, the federal government will soon get on board with science and recognize the medical benefits of cannabis. But until then, patients must work around the Feds rules and pay for their medicine out of pocket.

In Canada, where medical cannabis has been available for almost 20 years, health insurance companies are only now beginning to offer limited coverage of medical cannabis, so it may be a while before nascent programs and the US catch up. When it does happen, coverage will likely be limited to certain doses for particular conditions. We can’t wait to be able to answer “yes” when someone asks us, “Does insurance cover medical marijuana?” That will be a great day!

Things to Remember About Medical Cannabis in Maryland

If you have just obtained your written certification (recommendation) for medical cannabis in Maryland, congratulations! Now that you are officially a cannabis patient there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind so you’ll never have trouble accessing your medicine.

The first thing to remember is that if you don’t use your certification to purchase medical cannabis within 120 days, it becomes null and void. So make sure to visit a trusted dispensary as soon as you can. Also, as of April 2019, all patients must present an MMCC-issued ID card in order to purchase medical cannabis. You can get one by logging on to the patient registry on the MMCC website.

does insurance cover medical marijuana 3

Keep in mind that these cards do expire, and when they expired you don’t automatically get a new one. The expiration date is located on the front of the MMCC ID card, and you’ll need to submit an online renewal application before this date. New cards can sometimes take a while to receive, but the MMCC will email you a temporary card that will be valid for 90 days.

Looking to use your new certification to buy quality cannabis products? Visit us at our Cambridge location and our expert cannabis consultants will be happy to help you find the products you need.