With president-elect Joe Biden soon to take office in January 2021, and reportedly planning to make changes to national healthcare, this could have significant implications for the medical cannabis industry and for patients. Making matters even more interesting is the fact that the House of Representatives passed a bill that would decriminalize cannabis nationwide. Even though the bill likely won’t pass the Republican-led Congress, it’s still a positive development. With other policy changes in the cannabis industry this election cycle, what implications could this have for medical insurance?
The difficulty with furthering patient access to medical cannabis and having insurance cover it is that regulations are different in every state. Currently, there are no federal provisions for insurance paying for medical cannabis due to prohibition. Health insurance covering medical cannabis does exist but only for medicines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (so far, that’s just for a few synthetic medications and for Epidiolex®). And all patients know far too well how costly medical cannabis can be.
A brand called Deuces22, run by former NBA star John Salley, aims to help expand financial access to medical cannabis. Salley echoes a sentiment of many cannabis advocates, that plant medicine is an overall part of a healthy lifestyle. If the advancements in legalization are any indication, this overall concept should change the way insurance providers view cannabis–as a medicine that should be covered under prescription plans.
With the future of medical cannabis coverage for insurance purposes looking bright, at the very least, patients shouldn’t be penalized for consuming cannabis. For example, policyholders who use tobacco are often penalized by their providers and must pay a higher premium than those who don’t use tobacco. Hopefully, as we progress the medical cannabis industry forward, we will see these advancements accelerate.
Image Credit: Karolina Gtarabowska