Will Medical Marijuana Be Part of Employee Health Plans?
As of now, 29 states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical marijuana. If states can accept that marijuana has medical benefits, how long until insurance companies?
With the current opioid epidemic sweeping the country, many are looking for alternatives to traditional pain medications. Leading the way is a large company in Canada, who in 2017 announced that its employee insurance plan would begin covering medical marijuana, up to $1,500 CAD (that’s $1,210 USD) per year.
Barriers to Coverage
The main barrier to getting marijuana covered by insurance providers is the fact that it is only legal on a state level; it is still considered a Schedule 1 drug federally. A classification of Schedule 1 means the drug represents a high risk of abuse and carries the harshest range of criminal penalties; drugs on this list include heroin, LSD, ecstasy and peyote. Because of this classification, marijuana has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which is unlikely to consider reviewing it until it is reclassified to a lower schedule.
The classification of this drug also makes efficacy research extremely difficult, which is essential to creating a prescription form of it. Without this, finding an insurance company that is willing to offer coverage is unlikely. Having marijuana legal in some states and illegal in others makes it complicated for large carriers to craft a policy, as it could not be rolled out nationally.
What Is the Future of Medical Marijuana?
The legalization of marijuana has been gaining momentum over the past few years; with that comes a surge in the marijuana growing industry. This increase has allowed those in the community to invest heavily in lobbying. This means change on the federal level could be coming sooner rather than later.
As for you, the choice to offer medical marijuana benefits is entirely up to your practice. Attracting a younger workforce often requires benefits outside of the traditional medical and dental. Offering this service could help show you are a progressive company and one fresh talent wants to work for.