How this contested area is shaping policies.
Even with all we know about marijuana and its numerous health benefits, it continues to be a controversial subject. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in more than half of the states in the U.S, along with Washington, D.C., but from the federal government’s point of view, it is still illegal. Further complicating the issue is insurance. If you use marijuana for health purposes, does this mean it’s covered under your insurance? Let’s delve into this topic.
No coverage for now
Any type of medical treatment must get approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Because this is a federal agency (and marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 substance), health insurers do not have to include marijuana in their coverage. In some instances, however, legal synthetic THC is covered for chemotherapy or AIDS patients.
Individual states are making their own rules
It doesn’t look as though federal laws regarding marijuana will be changing any time soon so it may be up to specific states to create their own regulations. In New York, for example, insurers now have to cover all medical visits that involve medical marijuana certification. Other states provide sliding-scale fees when it comes to getting a medical marijuana card.
It may be covered under worker’s compensation
The tide could be turning when it comes to medical marijuana as related to worker’s compensation. In New Mexico in 2000, a mechanic hurt his back while on the job, and now his former employer has to reimburse him for the medical marijuana he uses to treat his chronic pain. A similar scenario happened in New Jersey in 2008, where a man was injured while working at a lumber mill. A judge ordered that his insurance company pay for his medical marijuana. Other states are now starting to be proactive, says Bob Morgan, an attorney who specializes in both health insurance and cannabis law.
“Some states do explicitly include the cost of medical cannabis in the workers’ comp statutes under workers’ comp programs,” Morgan said. These states include Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Minnesota.
What’s happening in Florida?
As of November 2016, marijuana is legal in Florida for medical purposes. Currently, there are more than 2,600 doctors listed on the state’s medical marijuana registry, and there are over 117,500 patients. Just recently, a judge lifted a ban on smokable medical marijuana. But, just like every other state, until marijuana is approved by the FDA, most insurance companies probably won’t cover it.
Will insurance companies eventually cover medical marijuana?
Many people believe it’s just a matter of time before medical marijuana is covered, but, says Morgan, this isn’t helping people who need it now.
“It’s an unfortunate and less-discussed aspect of the way that we’re rolling out medical cannabis in the U.S.,” he added. “People that don’t have the resources to pay $200 [to] $500 a month are missing out on access to medication that really could help reduce their pain and suffering…it’s a barrier to access.”
What about medical marijuana businesses?
Health insurance aside, it is vital that businesses that sell medical marijuana have the proper insurance. The right policies ensure regulatory compliance and put important safeguards in place in the event of fire, theft, or injury.
If you have any questions about the medical marijuana laws in Florida and how they may relate to your personal or business insurance, feel free to get in touch with Avante Insurance. You can call our office at 305-648-7070 or just fill out our online form.