Patients on a medical marijuana program will have to deal with one obstacle: Insurance firms have said they won’t meet the costs of the treatment, which averages $1000 per month.
Medical cannabis has fast gained popularity due to its ability to alleviate conditions such as epilepsy, AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, severe pain as well as stimulate appetite.
However, insurance firms are unwilling to introduce policies covering the treatment, partly due to conflicts between state and federal law. Though 21 states in the U.S. have legalized the medical marijuana, the federal law still considers the drug illegal.
The biggest factor that has prevented insurers from venturing into this sector is the fact that the drug is yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Most big insurers hardly cover medical treatments that aren’t FDA-approved. The approval is dependent on solid research into the safety, side effects and effectiveness of the drug.
However, the study requires huge funding and may take years to complete. As a result, medical marijuana activists are of opinion that the insurance firms are unlikely to cover the treatment for a few more years ahead. Therefore, an estimated 1 million users of the medical marijuana will have to seek other means to finance their treatment.
A spokeswoman for America Health Insurance Plans, Susan Pisano, told Huffington Post that insurance firms are yet to see any solid evidence that medical cannabis is more effective and safer than other available treatments.
One hurdle to conducting clinical studies to prove the safety and effectiveness of marijuana is the fact the marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug as per the federal Controlled Substances Act, hence it is heavily restricted. Furthermore, researchers must obtain a permit from FDA to conduct their study. Other agencies such as Public Health Service of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse must give their approval, making the process tedious.
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