Although legalization will be starting on October 17th, patients will continue to have access to medical cannabis through healthcare professionals and medical clinics. This includes the educational support services related to medical cannabis authorization. One of the key differences with medical cannabis versus recreational cannabis is reimbursement eligibility. The cost of recreational cannabis will not be eligible for coverage.
Though there are limited options and still some hurdles to getting reimbursement for medical cannabis, the option is there. The cost of medical cannabis can be quite expensive and the biggest challenge for patients is paying out of pocket. Even as the Canadian cannabis market continues to evolve with both anecdotal and research evidence showing the benefits of medical cannabis; there has only been a small number of insurance companies adding medical cannabis under its group benefits coverage. The insurance companies that have recently introduced coverage under an extended care program, have specific conditions that are eligible for coverage. Among these conditions include Rheumatoid Arthritis, spasticity due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS), palliative care for serious illnesses, anorexia or neuropathic pain due to HIV/AIDS, and pain and nausea associated with Cancer and Cancer treatments.
In addition to insurance, there are other ways to get coverage.
Table 1: Who and what is covered
Veterans Affairs Canada, which has covered medical cannabis since 2008, reimburses up to $8.50 per gram of dried cannabis (or the equivalent in oil form), to a total of 3 grams per day. They also cover up to $300 on any medical vaporizer. Patients with a medical cannabis authorization must provide the following documents to obtain coverage:
- K number assigned by Blue Cross
- Medical document listing the awarded condition
- Verification of active drug coverage
- Copy of a Registration Document from a Licensed Producer (LP)
- Copy of their Summary of Assessment or Official Decision Letter (in special circumstances)
Some Licensed Producers offer services to help streamline the process for Veteran patients as well as cover costs exceeding those which are reimbursed by Veterans Affairs.
The “Mighty Medic” and the “Volcano Medic” are the only 2 approved vaporizers (class 2) in Canada and the product safety is approved according to DIN EN ISO 60 601. In addition to being supported by Health Canada as the safest way to consume dry cannabis products, this approval means they are eligible for reimbursement as a medical device on income tax and private insurance.
Additional Financial Assistance
- Canadians are eligible to claim their medical cannabis and approved vaporizers on their income tax.
- 10%-30% discount is available to patients with an income of less than $30,000/year with select Licensed Producers.
- Sales tax (HST) is absorbed by certain licensed producers to help offset the cost of medical cannabis.
- Clinics like Solace Health Network have launched reimbursement programs help patients utilize their insurance and benefits.
If you or someone you know if looking for coverage assistance, its important to work with healthcare providers and medical clinics that are knowledgeable. Solace Health Network can help assess if you are eligible and if eligible; can assist you through the process of getting coverage.