Is Medical Cannabis Covered by Insurance?

Erwin Schultz
December 23, 2020

Nearly half of Canadians have used marijuana in their life. While recreational use of marijuana has been legal since 2018, medical cannabis has been legalized for longer. In fact, Canada was one of the first countries to pass a law that allowed the use of medical marijuana.

As attitudes continue to shift, you may find yourself researching all things marijuana. If one of your questions is about whether or not medical cannabis is covered by insurance, you've come to the right place! Keep reading to know more.

Canada and Health Insurance

As a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for public health insurance. This covers most health care services and is paid for through taxes. Each province has its own health insurance plan so depending on where you live, you'll need to see what your plan covers.

Free emergency medical services are covered, even if you don't have a government health card. While it may take up to three months in certain provinces to get your government health insurance, the wait is well worth it! In the meantime, consider getting private health insurance to cover your needs during this time.

What Is Medical Cannabis Used For?

Medical marijuana uses a marijuana plant to treat different conditions. It is essentially the same product as recreational marijuana but used for medical reasons. The magic comes from more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids.

Each cannabinoid has a different effect on the body. You might have heard of THC and CBD, both used for their therapeutic properties. They also happen to be the main chemicals used in medication.

As medical marijuana continues to be used as a treatment for pain and illness, more research is made about the benefits. There are several conditions that medical cannabis treats, this includes:

  • Appetite loss
  • Cancer
  • Seizures
  • Mental health conditions like schizophrenia or PTSD
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Epilepsy

These are just a handful of the many different conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana. While there is still a lot of studies to be done, there is a lot of evidence to show that medical cannabis is a great option for a variety of treatment. Especially if you are dealing with chronic pain.

Does Insurance Cover Medical Cannabis?

In February of 2018, a large Canadian health insurance company decided to offer coverage for medical cannabis. This was the necessary breakthrough for patients who relied on this treatment as well as the medical marijuana industry.

Despite it being more than 17 years since medical cannabis first became legal in Canada, it's only recently that other insurers are starting to cover the cost of it. You'll start noticing that certain insurers are offering companies the option to include medical marijuana. However, this is often limited to just cover a handful of medical conditions which means many people will not be able to use insurance to cover those costs.

With that said, each plan is different and if yours includes a Healthcare spending account then you can likely claim medical cannabis under this category. You'll need to contact your health care provider to see what is and is not covered. As of now, the Canada Revenue Agency lists medical marijuana as an acceptable medical expense.

If you are a low-income individual or senior, there's also good news. There's plenty of compassionate pricing offered by licensed producers. You'll have to contact a patient educator who can help determine if you qualify for that pricing and they'll also help guide you towards a provider.

Insurance Companies Offering Medical Cannabis Coverage

If you have health insurance from a company and aren't sure if they include medical cannabis coverage, here is a list of insurance companies that do:

  • SSQ Insurance
  • Alberta Blue Cross
  • Medavie Blue Cross
  • Sunlife Financial
  • Co-Operators Life Insurance
  • Green Shield Canada
  • Manulife
  • The Great-West Life Company
  • Great West Life
  • Desjardins Insurance

It seems like a variety of insurance companies notice the growing evidence that shows how medical cannabis is beneficial to treat many conditions. This is great because it provides access to many Canadians who rely on insurance to have access to medical marijuana and it continues to encourage more health care providers to include it in their plans.

How to Get Medical Marijuana

To obtain medical cannabis in Canada, you'll need to get an authorization form from a doctor or nurse practitioner. Medical professionals need to complete a document that contains patient and practitioner information. Once you've received authorization, you have three options.

You can grow your own cannabis, designate another person to grow cannabis for you or you can reach out to a medical cannabis dispensary. As far as price goes, it ranges from around $4.20 up to $15 a gram.

Growing it on your own could be an inexpensive option but it depends on if you have a green thumb and how many supplies you're going to buy. Your best bet is to explore all of your options and see what works best for you.

The Future of Medical Cannabis

The future looks bright for the medical marijuana industry. Not only are more people exploring all parts of the cannabis plant to treat a variety of medical conditions but it's becoming more affordable and accessible. If you're about to search 'medical cannabis dispensary near me', know you have plenty of great options available!

Medical cannabis may not be covered by all types of insurance but some providers do cover it. You just need to call your provider and see the details of your health insurance plan.

If you're looking for a medical marijuana prescription and have some questions, be sure to contact us!