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Does Having a Medical Card Affect Your Health Insurance?

Medical marijuana patients seeking to secure comprehensive medical insurance may have concerns about the potential impact of their medical card on their insurance. So, does having a medical card affect your health insurance?


MMJ patient status generally doesn't affect your access to health insurance coverage. However, marijuana products and services usually aren't covered. Familiarize yourself with local laws and get the latest information from officials to avoid surprises and know your rights.


Does Having an MMJ Card Affect Your Health Insurance?

No, having an MMJ card shouldn’t affect your access to health insurance. 


Is Medical Marijuana Covered by Insurance?

Medical marijuana, denoting therapeutic products derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, isn't typically covered by health insurance companies. Though MMJ may be useful for treating qualifying conditions, the FDA currently hasn't approved its use and insurance doesn't typically cover non-approved or experimental treatments.


Top Health Insurance Providers and MMJ Coverage

Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurers represent the three main sources of healthcare coverage in the United States. The coverage provided by all three is influenced (and restricted) by federal law.


Medicare

Medicare is a national health insurance organization run by the U.S. federal government. Medical marijuana isn't covered by Medicare because cannabis is a Schedule I illegal drug at the federal level. The fact that states like Arizona have legalized MMJ and recreational cannabis does not change federal law.


Federal regulations significantly complicate the completion of research into the potential health benefits required by the FDA to approve cannabis-based products. This means that MMJ patients likely won't see a change in their insurance coverage for the foreseeable future.


Medicaid

Medicaid, another federally-run health insurance organization, also won't cover medical marijuana. However, some states offer reimbursement for visiting a doctor for an MMJ recommendation through their Medicaid program. 


On a national level, Medicaid is unlikely to be able to assist with patients' MMJ use until federal restrictions surrounding the research into and approval of cannabis-based drugs are lifted.


Private Health Insurance

Most private health insurance plans won't cover services or visits related to MMJ. This is because they operate on a national level and must comply with coverage requirements set by the federal government. 


FDA-Approved Prescription Drugs that Insurance May Cover

The exceptions to this rule are the few prescription drugs that are either cannabis-based or mimic the effects of specific cannabinoids.


Dronabinol (Marinol and Syndros)

Dronabinol is a synthetic version of the cannabinoid THC. Dronabinol is prescribed to help cancer patients suffering from nausea from chemotherapy or to help stimulate appetite and treat weight loss resulting from HIV/AIDS. 


Nabilone (Cesamet)

Cesamet is an FDA-approved drug containing nabilone. Nabilone’s chemical makeup is similar to THC but it is made synthetically. Cesamet is prescribed to combat chemotherapy-induced nausea.


Epidiolex

Epidiolex was the first FDA-approved drug to contain a substance derived from marijuana. It contains purified CBD from the cannabis plant and does not contain THC. 


Drugs like dronabinol, nabilone, and Epidiolex differ from MMJ in several ways:


  • They are sold in pharmacies rather than dispensaries.

  • Patients don't require an MMJ card to purchase them.

  • They're FDA-approved.


Do You Need Health Insurance to Get a Medical Marijuana Card?

Medical marijuana patients don't need health insurance to obtain an MMJ card in Arizona. This is true whether you're applying for the first time or renewing your medical marijuana card. MMJ is regulated at the state level whereas health insurance rules are typically national, so one doesn’t affect the other.


Please note: You should always consult knowledgeable experts before making decisions about health insurance and MMJ patient status. Local healthcare agencies, government officials, and medical marijuana doctors can provide you with further clarity.


Will My MMJ Card Show Up on My Insurance Policy?

Your MMJ card won't show up on your insurance policy because MMJ patient status is not one of the factors insurers use to determine the rate you pay. Health insurance companies will typically ask for your location, age, smoker/non-smoker status, your plan category, and whether you require individual or family enrollment. 


Will My MMJ Use Affect My Life Insurance Premiums?

Life insurance rates may be affected by medical marijuana use. Any marijuana use—even if it is only taken orally—could raise your premiums. A life insurance company will also want to know the underlying condition for your MMJ use. This could also raise your rates.


Tips for Obtaining More Affordable Cannabis

The costs associated with medical marijuana consumption add up just like the costs associated with other medications. The good news is that there are several ways to reduce your medical marijuana costs:


Get a Medical Marijuana Card

Eligible patients in Arizona who purchase medical cannabis with an MMJ card can avoid the 16% excise tax that recreational marijuana customers pay. This is just one of several benefits of owning a medical marijuana card.


Grow Your Own Marijuana Plants

Approved medical marijuana patients or their caregivers can cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants for personal use at their primary residence. The patient must live at least 25 miles from an operating dispensary to qualify for cultivation. 


Adults aged 21 and above can grow up to six marijuana plants at home under Arizona’s recreational cannabis laws, independent of the distance between their residence and the nearest operating dispensary. Households where two or more adults over 21 reside can grow up to 12 plants.


In both cases, the plants must be cultivated within an enclosed area and secured with a lock or other security device that prevents access by minors or the public.


Choose the Right Dispensary

Medical dispensaries in Arizona are allowed to offer some free marijuana products to MMJ patients. Many dispensaries also offer patient-only discounts. Price-conscious patients should look for dispensaries that offer these kinds of discounts to reduce their treatment costs.


MMJ Cards and Health Insurance Are Generally Not Linked

Your health insurance policy shouldn’t be affected by your MMJ patient status but also won’t typically cover your medical marijuana expenses. Fortunately, there are other things you can do to reduce the financial burden caused by your health condition.


Obtaining a medical marijuana card and renewing it every two years is the easiest way to get access to more cost-effective MMJ in Arizona and other states with a medical marijuana program. In Arizona, a medical marijuana card gives you access to excise-tax-free cannabis, patient-only discounts, and (if eligible) the right to grow up to 12 marijuana plants at home.


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