What if Medical Marijuana was Covered by Insurance?

One of the biggest issues that patients have with medical marijuana (MM) is its cost! Anyone you ask will tell you that they can’t afford all of their medication. Many will then discuss how insurance should be covering it for them. Their argument is “I am taking it for a medical condition and my doctor has recommended I use it.”


As a pharmacist who worked for one of the nations largest retail pharmacy chains for 16 years, I feel as though I can offer a different perspective. Have you ever looked at a pharmacist face behind the counter? They don’t look like very happy people. A typical day is spent arguing with the doctors about what drugs are covered, what drugs are not, and why! Then once you get past that and get the medication changed to something “equivalent” that is approved by the insurance company, you get to explain all of this to the patient. Which would typically lead to a conversation similar to the one you already had with the doctor to begin with. Followed by a “discussion” about why the copay is so high and it’s not even what the doctor had written for. This is also partly what can lead to medications becoming unavailable by a manufacturer. When too many insurance companies restrict patients to the same drug and that manufacturer was not properly prepared for the sudden spike in demand. This is how big pharma and insurance companies work together to drive up demand and costs.

NOW… are you still sure you want insurance companies covering your MM?

If they do, they will begin restricting:

  • How much you can purchase
  • Where you can purchase it (They will have “preferred” dispensaries)
  • When you can purchase it (how frequently)
  • What delivery methods/strengths
  • How much you pay for it
  • Even where it comes from (as I am sure they will have “preferred” growers too)

My Recommendation:

What we want insurance to help subsidize your MM! Allstate insurance got it right! We can have a “Good Patient” check that insurance companies send to their patients. If the patient is able to decrease their medications, ER/Hospital/Dr office/Walk in visits, and continue to keep their health stable or improved according to their annual doctor visit. If for example the patient saves their insurance company $500 then the insurance company can reimburse you a % of that. So maybe you get a check for $200. That is subsidizing your medical marijuana.

Now, it may not be as much as you would like, or have spent but, as they say, “Something is better than nothing!” AND studies show your own medical costs decrease over time. Just think, you are spending less in co-pays for medication, and ER/Dr visits is also subsidizing your medical marijuana. And there is also the whole part about improving your quality of life part too.