According to Wendy Hope of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association
the only thing holding back medical marijuana coverage is the presence of a drug information number or DIN for short.
To obtain a DIN, the new form of medical marijuana would need to go through the full Health Canada approval process like any new drug,” said Hope. “If it was issued a DIN by Health Canada, it’s quite likely that the insurance companies would cover it.”
Sun Life recently agreed to cover a 22-year-old University of Waterloo student’s medical marijuana costs. The student uses the medical marijuana to cope with New Daily Persistent Headaches (NDPH).
“After his initial claim was accepted, Zaid has started a new organization called the “Canadians For Fair Access To Medical Marijuana” to push for more insurers to cover medical marijuana,” Syed Raza, director of marketing for LSM Insurance recently wrote. “Canada’s medicinal marijuana industry has also started lobbying for private insurers to cover medical marijuana claims like they do for other treatments.”
That could add up to big profits for insurance carriers as expensive drugs and opiates used to treat issues of chronic pain are replaced by medical marijuana.
Don’t think it will happen?
“When something doesn’t look different than other medicines, it becomes much easier for people to get comfortable with the idea that this is, in fact, a possible treatment option for patients,” said Bruce Linton, the chief executive of Smiths Falls, Ont.-based Tweed Marijuana Inc.
The best part for insurance companies is it could add to their profits.
“From a dollars and cents standpoint,” if marijuana is the same thing as a narcotic opiate, they would much rather cover marijuana because they’re in the business to make money,” said Khurram Malik, an analyst at Jacob Securities Inc.
Experts believe that medical marijuana will soon be covered by insurance company group health plans and the net result could be more profits for shareholders.