Medical Marijuana can Impact Your Life & Health Insurance
Currently there are up to 34 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana as of January 2020. However, there are still many challenges faced by medical patients looking to take advantage of the benefits cannabis can provide while not sacrificing their health insurance benefits. Much of this stems from cannabis being labelled as a Schedule I narcotic per the Controlled Substances Act. This status makes it difficult for any financial institution to have dealings that touch on marijuana, without running afoul on the federal government.
Cannabis contains two very important cannabinoids that react with receptors in the human body to treat certain conditions. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that gives consumers the sensation of being ‘high’. While it does offer therapeutic benefits, THC does provide some medicinal benefits when combined with CBD during a treatment process. THC also has no major negative side effects other than the usual:
- Dry mouth
- Slow reaction time
- Potential harm to your lungs over long periods of smoking
No one has ever been known to die from cannabis however, a dentist could argue that smoking is bad for your oral health in general, but that is a choice a smoker makes when they decide to partake. Visit the dentist more regularly if this is you.
CBD, or cannabidiol, on the other hand, does not give a high, but rather affects the release of neurotransmitters that are responsible for conditions such as pain, sleep, stress, and immune function. CBD can be derived from:
- In fact, more of it is harvested from hemp which has a higher concentration of CBD than THC.
- Alternatively, marijuana possesses more THC than CBD.
CBD is used to treat a variety of health problems including pain, inflammation, seizures, IBS, nausea, anxiety, and migraines.
Despite some research and plenty of anecdotal evidence that strongly supports the claim that CBD can be beneficial in the treatment of many conditions, insurance companies do not cover these prescriptions. Even when doctors take the time to get licensed as certified cannabis physicians and issue such prescriptions in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. Insurers are still faced with the problem of cannabis being labelled Schedule I by federal authorities. This prevents them from making payments that could end up in cannabis business hands and result in legal trouble such as charges for money laundering.
Another challenge is that the FDA has yet to approve marijuana for medical use. There are however a few prescription drugs that are cannabis-derived and cannabis-related which have been approved by the FDA. They are used in the treatment of hard to control:
- Anorexia in AIDS patients
- Nausea in cancer sufferers
For those that do not qualify for these prescriptions, the best solution remains to pay out of pocket.
When it comes to the effects of CBD on your life insurance, you may hit more roadblocks than you’d like. Although not always required, these policies may request a health exam that can include a blood or urine test. CBD use is easily detected during such tests. From a recent research done by the HotBox team, most life insurers do not seem to have settled on how such results would affect the rating of a policyholder during underwriting. However, one thing many life insurers have seem to agree on for the moment, is on denying these patients life insurance.
How you are rated is based on a variety of factors including lifestyle, age, and health status, which will impact the level of premiums you’ll pay. It can even disqualify you from approval for your desired policy. CBD and Cannabis use now seems to be part of this equation for many life insurance companies.
Currently, insurers seem to be more interested in finding out the reason for taking CBD, but on many cases, they penalize its use. There is one exception:
- If the CBD use is for purposes of treating an ailment, then the health condition is what will likely influence your rating.
- If, the CBD or medical cannabis use is preventative, recreational or medical in the minor sense of its use, then you could be outright rejected.
Until this conflict between state and federal approvals are resolved, people looking to take advantage of the therapeutic & medicinal benefits of cannabis will have to wait until more CBD and THC infused medications are approved by the FDA. Those that come from hemp-derived CBD offer the best bet of gaining approval as hemp was removed from the list of Schedule I narcotics thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill.
Additionally, with the recent approval of the SAFE Banking Act by the U.S. House, there is some hope that all financial institutions, including insurance companies, will gain the necessary protections that would permit them to allow patients to gain access to these products more affordably. The fate of these patients now rests in the hands of the senate.