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Debates have gone on for years about the use of marijuana in medical treatments. Some states have gotten on board with approving marijuana for recreational use, medical use, or both. However, having it actually be covered by the various health insurance plans offered throughout the nation remains a topic of discussion, support, and controversy.
About Your Health Insurance Plan and General Coverage
Much of what your health insurance plan covers depends on the plan itself. Concerning medications, it is up to you to find out which ones are covered under the plan that you have. Typically, once enrolled in a plan, they send out additional information, including both brand-name and generic medications that are covered.
Before we dive into how health insurance plans handle medical marijuana, let’s touch on exactly what it is. To put the definition simply, medical marijuana is marijuana that is used in the treatment of certain ailments or as a means to alleviate symptoms from injuries or diseases.
There has been research done in an effort to prove the benefits and possible side-effects of this form of treatment, but not enough in the eyes of some. Even so, medical marijuana has grown in popularity, especially in children with life-altering or terminal illnesses. However, that has not ended any controversy surrounding the medicinal uses of marijuana.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant. It works alongside the other compounds (cannabinoids), one of which is the most recognized out of the bunch: delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
However, unlike with THC, CBD is the most non-psychoactive compound marijuana has. In other words, it does not alter your mindset or give you the “high” that THC does. It is one of the reasons why CBD is more attractive in terms of medical use.
One thing that might confuse individuals is that most of the CBD oil found for medical use is extracted not from marijuana, but from hemp. Although marijuana and hemp hail from the same cannabis sativa plant, the two are different; hemp usually lacks the modification seen in marijuana plants.
When it comes to CBD oil, several studies have proven the benefits of its use in medical treatments. For example, it can affect pain as well as inflammation. The health benefits, coupled with its lack of psychoactive abilities, is why some states have come around to approve of CBD oil even if they do not approve of recreational marijuana or medical marijuana.
Use and Coverage of Medical Marijuana
With some of the states across the nation coming around to approving the use of CBD oil or medical cannabis, the fight for legality in general wages on. Many states have tried to pull off legislation concerning the issue. In 2017, over a dozen states had ballot measures focusing on it.
Whether states approve it or not, a primary concern those who are looking into or are already receiving a form of medical cannabis treatment have is paying for it. Health insurance can get expensive in its own right.
As of now, medical marijuana itself is not covered by health insurances. This is due to the fact that cannabis is still classified at the federal level as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Anything that is Schedule 1 cannot be legally prescribed. As such, in spite of several states approving the use of cannabis in medical treatments, patients have to pay for it out-of-pocket.
Additionally, health insurance companies look for clinically researched drugs when determining what to cover. In spite of the various studies and personal anecdotes about the benefits of medical cannabis, there is still a lack of firm clinical reports.
Though low-income patients may suffer from this lack of coverage the most, there are a number of prescription drugs that the FDA has approved that contain ingredients derived from marijuana. Not every drug is approved for use in the United States, but a couple has that can be covered by health insurance companies considering they have been approved by the FDA.