Why Health Insurance Still Won’t Cover Medical Weed | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Why Health Insurance Still Won’t Cover Medical Weed

Despite growing mainstream acceptance, marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug keeps it from being covered by insurance for people who need it most.

Image: 

Shutterstock

By Shawn Dwyer

05/27/14

| Share

Every week, it seems as though another state approves or is on the verge of approving legal medical marijuana. In fact, New York state appears set to legalize medical pot today, while an Oklahoma advocacy group has begun its push to make it legal in the Sooner State.

But regardless of its rapidly broadening acceptance at the state and local level, the federal government still continues to list marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which defines it as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” as well as a drug with “potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Even though marijuana has been proven to boost appetites for cancer patients, dull pain, and drastically reduce seizures for people suffering a wide range of disorders, major insurance companies won’t cover the costs of medical marijuana for patients because of conflicting laws and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's lack of approval. That means patients spending upwards of $1,000 per month for their medicine must do so out of their own pockets and probably won’t see relief over the next few years despite more medical marijuana laws going on the books.

In order for FDA approval to occur, there would need to be enough research studies conducted to prove its medical effectiveness. But roadblocks in the form of attaining the proper permits, locations, and supplies have hampered research groups from conducting said studies. "The word 'marijuana' is just so politically radioactive," said Dr. Sue Sisley, a University of Arizona psychiatrist studying its effects on post-traumatic stress disorder.

For now, medical marijuana patients must either grow their own or make purchases from government approved dispensaries, which can prove costly in terms of time for growers and money for buyers. Patients unable to afford the high price of medical pot look to alternative ways to get their medicine.

"I'm just lucky I have somebody who is helping me out, but that could go away at any time," said Bill Britt, a 55 year old Long Beach, Calif. man who gets free marijuana from a friend to ease epileptic seizures and leg pain stemming from a childhood bout with polio. "I am always worried about that."

 

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv