Medical Marijuana with Medicare coverage seems sensible, especially since the rise of senior cannabis patients over the last few years.
The legalization of Medical Marijuana has been a hot topic for the past twenty years. Cannabis is a schedule 1 drug, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), meaning they consider it to have no medical use.
However, Cannabis has national attention with the public and policymakers.
More seniors are becoming curious to learn about the risks and benefits of Cannabis. Seniors search for options like medical cannabis for nausea instead of Zofran.
A data collection of drugs from 2010 to 2013 shows that many enrollees didn’t fill a prescription that marijuana could treat once cannabis was acceptable in that state.
There were overall national reductions in Medicare and enrollee spending when states have medical marijuana laws, over 153.6 million per year back in 2013. Medical cannabis has a significant impact on spending in Part D.
Does Medicare Cover Medical Marijuana (Cannabis)
The federal prohibition on prescribing marijuana makes marijuana and Medicare coverage for it impossible.
Once our lawmakers and voters make changes to the scheduling classification of marijuana, maybe then we can expect a change.
For now, Medicare won’t cover the cost of medical marijuana. Any out-of-pocket cost spent on medical cannabis use won’t count toward any deductibles under Part B or a Part D plan.
All insurance carriers in the United States, which include Medicare, Medicaid, group plans, the Veterans Administration, or Obamacare plans, won’t be covering medical marijuana. Insurance only covers drugs with FDA approval.
Federal law says cannabis is still illegal, and most large insurance companies operate in several states; they don’t want to risk prosecution.
Employees of most large companies that reside in green states may not be able to partake in the federally illegal substance, and if they test positive, they could face termination.
Federal legalization needs to happen for insurance companies to stop resisting marijuana and Medicare coverage for medicinal cannabis prescriptions.
Recently, the FDA approved the first Marijuana based prescription drug called Epidiolex. Although, it’s for treating patients that are two years or younger that have epilepsy.
In States Where Medical Marijuana is Legal, Do Medicare and Medicaid Cover It
Since both recreational and medical marijuana is an illegal substance under federal law, Medicare and Medicaid won’t assist in payment. Even in states where it’s legal.
For an insurance company to cover anything, it must have FDA approval.
Legal Facts About Cannabis
- Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug
- No current medical use in treatment in the United States.
- A high potential for abuse
- A lack of safety for use
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s website states the agency doesn’t consider cannabis medicine
- The FDA requires clinical trials in hundreds to thousands of human subjects. This is to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. Researchers don’t have enough large-scale clinical trials that demonstrate the benefits outweigh the risks.
- Despite such barriers, there is a map showing 29 states and the District of Columbia that have laws legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.
Medical Marijuana vs Recreational Marijuana
Regardless of a state’s marijuana laws, a health-care provider may not prescribe marijuana for medical use due to the federal prohibitions on prescribing schedule 1 substances. Also, your doctor may only make a recommendation about its use for a specific medical condition.
Until it’s FDA approval, Medicare likely won’t cover Marijuana.
Marijuana is a plant with over 100 chemicals; these are cannabinoids. Each cannabinoid has a different effect on your body.
The two main chemicals used in the medicinal application of marijuana are:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is the element that produces the “high.”
- Cannabidiol, or CBD. This is the substance that has significant medical benefits but does not make people feel “high.”
Medical Marijuana has a higher CBD content, and is commonly used to treat:
- Appetite loss
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Eating disorders
- Mental health conditions
- Muscle spasms
- and nausea.
With Medical marijuana, you need to have a qualifying condition to get a medical marijuana recommendation which requires regular renewal.
Recreational Marijuana typically contains lower CBD content than Medicinal Marijuana. Further, anyone can buy it; you don’t need a recommendation for it.
If it’s legal in your state, and you are over the minimum age, then you won’t need a medical card to buy the recreational variety.
Medical Marijuana Prices
Like many things, the cost of marijuana depends on the quality, amount, and convenience. In states where cannabis is legal for adults, prices can vary based on the method of administration. Many seniors with respiratory issues opt for edible types of THC or CBD.
The dispensaries sell candies, lozenges, cookies, brownies, and even chocolates. Further, some seniors prefer a more natural sense by smoking it, and many prefer the convenience of the vapor pens.
The cost also varies by location, and some dispensaries offer discounts for low-income patients who like to use approved medicinal marijuana with a prescription from a doctor.
Some states offer discounts on the cost of receiving a medical marijuana card for low-income individuals. Medical marijuana cards can cost as much as $300-$500 in some areas. Some dispensaries will have discounted rates for Medical users, as well as the front of the line checkouts.
A Seattle-based firm that gathers data on the legal cannabis industry found that, on average, those in their fifties spent a median of $753 on marijuana per year. All those baby boomers who tried pot in their hippie days are now taking advantage of changing cannabis laws and better quality of marijuana.
Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary
Once you get your recommendation, you will want to visit the dispensary. You will likely be a little apprehensive entering a place like this, as it will probably be out of the ordinary for you.
What you can expect from your first visit to a licensed medicinal cannabis dispensary is this:
- There is usually a security guard at the door of a regulated and licensed dispensary. There are generally heavy, locked doors. Licensed dispensaries are targets for thieves and criminals since they tend to handle vast amounts of cash. Since Marijuana isn’t federally, legal customers usually have to pay with cash. Security here is paramount.
- On your initial visit, you’ll need to have your recommendation along with your paperwork in the system. You’ll want to have your State issued photo ID or government-issued Passport.
- You must sign in and relax in the waiting room until the staff helping you calls your name. While waiting, you can have a look at the menu of products.
- When you decide on the cannabis you want and how much you need, the staff will help you complete the transaction.
Remember, when you are carrying your marijuana, you should always keep a copy of your recommendation or card from your doctor with you for legal purposes.
Get Help Paying for Your Out of Pocket Medicare Expenses
If you’re a beneficiary that has not enrolled in a Medigap plan, contact us today! We will help you compare the rates between all the top carriers in your area.
You can also compare rates online by completing our form. Medicare might not cover Marijuana, but Medigap can cover the 20% Medicare doesn’t hide when you go to the doctor.