Does Insurance Cover CBD?
Otherwise known as Obamacare, this act states that it was implemented in an effort to boost the nation’s economy via mandating a majority of the population to purchase their own health insurance plans if not provided one as a benefit of employment.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, this goal has been met, at least with regard to Medicaid since the projected costs of operating this federal program in 2019 was $794 billion, yet is now 21.5 percent less than anticipated, or $623 billion. 
Though, if you ask the general public their thoughts on this program, the response is more mixed.
For some, this act was a blessing because it afforded people the opportunity to purchase health insurance at a reasonable rate regardless of any pre-existing health conditions. For others, specifically those who had previously gone without insurance in an effort to save cash, it created an additional financial burden or face the risk of being assessed a fine.
Either way, this act has forced United States citizens to really question their insurance policy and the benefits it provides. And one benefit a number of people are wondering about is whether insurance providers are required to pay for CBD (cannabidiol) when it is taken for its health benefits. In other words, does health insurance cover CBD oil?
In the past, this lack of accepted medical use and safety has been, in part, due to a lack of research thanks to hemp’s illegal status. However, actions being taken by federal agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could begin to change this reasoning, particularly by this agency approving the first ever prescription drug to include a marijuana derivative.
This was in June of 2018 and that drug was Epidiolex. Epidiolex can now be prescribed to help reduce difficult-to-control seizures in patients suffering from two fairly rare forms of epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
While this is one step closer to the legalization of medical marijuana, it doesn’t change the fact that this particular drug is still illegal on a federal level and, therefore, enforceable by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This is even though some states have legalized medical marijuana and/or marijuana used for recreational purposes.
Does this mean that you can’t get any help with covering the cost of products that contain cannabinoids such as CBD ? According to what some people are discovering, the answer is no.
The store further states that “the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] has yet to issue guidance on the eligibility status of CBD oil and products,” so maybe some HSA plans are taking this absence of guidance as implied approval of CBD -containing products?
The IRS Publication 502, which is titled “Medical and Dental Expenses,” states that controlled substances such as marijuana are not deductible as a medical expense and neither are nonprescription drugs and medicines, with the exception of insulin.
Does Health Insurance Cover CBD Oil?
With more evidence piling up for the health benefits of CBD oil, there’s a growing number of people jumping on the bandwagon.
However, for many people, the price of CBD oil is too big an expense, making them turn to cheaper options that aren’t as effective as CBD extracts.
So, being left between high prices and poor-quality products, many wonder if their health insurance policy covers the cost of CBD oil.
This article breaks down the subject of CBD supplements and insurances — and whether your program will cover CBD oil.
Is CBD Oil Covered By Health Insurance?
As of today, the answer is a clear “no.”
Currently, the vast majority of insurance agencies don’t cover CBD oil, even when a physician issues a prescription for it.
Many doctors are acknowledging the health benefits of CBD and its potential for treating a wide range of health conditions. So far, CBD has proven very safe and its side effects are benign.
That’s why doctors have started recommending CBD as a treatment in a combination with conventional medications.
This made many patients wonder whether or not insurance agencies cover the cost.
In certain regions, CBD may be covered by private insurance companies in some cases.
However, this doesn’t apply to hemp-derived CBD oil. In the US, you can only ask your insurance agency to cover the cost of Epidiolex, a prescription drug containing CBD. Epidiolex is an FDA-approved drug for treating rare forms of epilepsy.
In countries like Canada or the UK, another prescription CBD-based drug called Sativex may be eligible for insurance.
Why do Health Insurance Companies refuse to Cover CBD?
Despite the growing body of scientific evidence supporting the medicinal properties of a highly potent CBD oil, health insurance companies still don’t cover the cost. This makes people wonder why other pharmaceutical drugs — with higher prices and more severe adverse reactions — are covered, and CBD oil doesn’t fall into that bracket.
CBD is Not FDA-Approved
Before any drug gets released into the market, it must receive approval from the FDA so that the doctors can legally recommend it to patients. CBD is still labeled as a New Dietary Ingredient (NDI), requiring extensive lab research before the FDA approves it as a drug.
Insurance companies won’t cover the cost of anything that hasn’t been approved by the FDA. The process required for acceptance is time-consuming and expensive.
CBD is Derived from Cannabis
The laws regarding hemp and marijuana are still cloudy. Hemp has only been legalized recently on a federal level. The Farm Bill was signed into law in 2019, making hemp and its derivatives legal as long as they contain no more than 0.3% of THC.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is still a Schedule 1 drug, both on a federal and state level. Because both hemp and marijuana differ in terms of legality, many companies take a safe approach and decide not to cover such products in their insurance.
Insurance agencies aren’t the only companies that shy away from such goods. Many shipping companies, even local ones where marijuana is legal, refuse to deliver it.
Can Patients Count On Alternative Options if Their Insurance Doesn’t Cover CBD?
As of today, patients interested in using CBD oil for its therapeutic benefits must cover the costs from their own wallets. No financial help is available, even for those who received a prescription from their doctor.
Since CBD is unregulated, it’s important to stay cautious when buying CBD oil. High-quality CBD oils often cost over $100 per bottle. Many scam companies are trying to take advantage of the lack of regulations, churning out poorly manufactured products that are often mislabeled, and sometimes, downright dangerous due to the presence of toxic contaminants.
To make sure you’re buying real CBD products, look for reputable brands that have a lot of positive reviews on third-party websites and provide relevant certificates of analysis. A report from an independent laboratory is proof of quality and transparency.
Benefits of Using CBD Oil
Scientists have fueled massive resources into research on CBD over the past few years. A lot of this research has brought promising results, and there are a lot of well-established health benefits of CBD.
That being said, the only health condition insurance companies will cover with regards to CBD treatment is Epidiolex or Sativex. This primarily involves epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and the side effects of chemotherapy. Until the FDA approves other CBD-based medications for the treatment of a particular condition, insurance won’t cover the cost of CBD oil.
Here are a few science-backed health benefits of CBD:
- Improves your body’s response to stress
- May relieve anxiety and depression
- Reduces pain and inflammation
- Reduces acne formation
- Reduces the frequency and severity of epileptic seizures
Key Takeaways on CBD Oil & Insurance Companies
The government allows the sale of CBD products but insurance companies won’t cover the costs of buying CBD oils and other hemp supplements for medical purposes.
That’s because hemp-derived CBD hasn’t received approval from the FDA when it comes to treating the health conditions that CBD can tackle, according to recent research.
So even if doctors acknowledge the health benefits of CBD oil and prescribe it to you as a treatment, insurance policies aren’t willing to reimburse the cost needed to procure it.
That being said, CBD oil is reasonably priced compared to many other pharmaceutical medications, even after insurance covers them. If you’re looking for the best deals on high-quality CBD oils, we recommend checking out a trusted online store. You can use the recommendations from our ranking of the best CBD oils and enjoy discount codes from the top U.S. brands.
Do you think that insurance companies will cover the cost of CBD oil in the future? Let us know your thoughts on this!
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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Is Medical Marijuana Covered by Insurance?
Health insurance covers a wide range of treatments. Some policies even cover alternative treatments like acupuncture. It doesn’t cover medical marijuana, however. Learn more about medical marijuana, what it treats and why it’s not covered by medical insurance.
Quick Answer: Medical Marijuana and Health Insurance
Is medical marijuana covered by health insurance? The short answer here is no. Because marijuana is still federally illegal, healthcare coverage providers have their hands tied when it comes to offering insurance coverage for medical marijuana as a prescription drug. That being said, doctors can help you get your medical marijuana card or recommend medical marijuana as a treatment in states where it’s legal. It’s likely that until marijuana’s scheduled status is changed and the FDA is able to review it and approve it as a
Is Medical Marijuana Effective as Health Care?
Many people use medical marijuana to treat a variety of conditions. Pain control is the most common, according to the Harvard Health blog. Many use it to treat chronic pain from arthritis, nerve pain and multiple sclerosis.
Some treatments for pain are addictive or sedating. For example, opiates are addictive, and it’s possible to overdose on them. Opioid-use disorder is a problem in many areas of the country. Pain medications that are sedating make it difficult to complete daily activities, so medical marijuana is an appealing alternative.
People with Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, endometriosis and cancer also use medical marijuana. Cancer patients use it to help with the side effects of chemotherapy. It’s also been found to be effective for relieving the symptoms of HIV/AIDS and cancer.
Some have also found it effective for mental health conditions like PTSD, depression and anxiety.
While medical marijuana can be helpful, some find it difficult to deal with the side effects, which include headaches, dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness and fatigue. There’s also a relatively small risk of becoming addicted to marijuana (called marijuana-use disorder).
Be sure to consult your health providers before using medical marijuana to treat these or other conditions. Ask about how it might interact with other prescriptions you take, and don’t stop taking any prescriptions without talking to your doctor.
Where is Medical Marijuana Legal?
Medical marijuana is legal in 36 states as of September 2021 — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia — and Washington, D.C. Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also allow medical marijuana.
Select a state
State laws vary significantly when it comes to who can qualify to use medical marijuana. In general, you typically need to have a specific condition such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic pain
Does Insurance Cover Medical Marijuana?
While recreational and medical marijuana is legal in many states, it’s still an illegal Schedule I drug on a federal level. That means health insurance companies will not cover it because it’s technically illegal. Doctors also can’t prescribe medical marijuana. They can recommend it as long as they’re following the protocols for medical marijuana in their state, but not all doctors will.
Medical insurance companies also won’t cover medical marijuana because it’s not on their drug formularies. With health insurance, prescription medications are listed on a formulary. The formulary determines what prescriptions will be covered and how much the insurance company will pay toward those prescriptions.
Prescriptions are typically only added to a formulary if they’re approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s unlikely that medical marijuana will be approved by the FDA anytime soon. One of the biggest hurdles to FDA approval is a lack of research. Marijuana is difficult to research because of its status as a Schedule I drug. As long as it’s illegal on the federal level, it will be extremely difficult to research. Without research on safety and efficacy, the FDA won’t approve it.
Even if medical marijuana is legalized on the federal level, it’s possible it won’t be covered by health insurance. After all, many medications aren’t covered by insurance, including herbal remedies, vitamins, pain relievers and cold medicine. Health insurance companies may find that dealing with all the different strains and delivery methods involved with medical marijuana is too complex to add to their formula and not cover it.
FDA-Approved Synthetic THC Medications
The FDA-approved medications that contain a synthetic form of THC, one of the compounds found in medical marijuana, include:
- Marinol: This drug is used to treat nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and loss of appetite and weight loss in people with HIV.
- Cesamet: Like Marinol, Cesamet is also used to treat severe nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.
- Syndros: This is also used to treat nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and loss of appetite in people with AIDS.
The FDA also approved Epidiolex in 2018. Epidiolex is a cannabidiol (CBD) oral solution used to treat seizures associated with 2 rare forms of epilepsy.
All of these FDA-approved medications can be covered by insurance and may appear on a health insurance company’s drug formulary.
What About CBD?
CBD is another compound found in medical marijuana. CBD is often sold on its own because it doesn’t cause the high associated with THC. Some feel it’s an effective remedy for pain and other health conditions on its own. Many stores, including grocery stores and pharmacies, carry CBD. Dispensaries may also carry CBD products as well as products with both THC and CBD.
Like medical marijuana, people use CBD for a range of health conditions. They include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
CBD also isn’t covered by health insurance. Although it’s legal and doesn’t have the psychoactive side effects that THC does, it’s considered a supplement, so health insurance plans don’t cover it.
Benzinga’s Best Health Insurance Companies
Although health insurance doesn’t cover medical marijuana, it does cover many other services and prescriptions. Here are Benzinga’s picks for the best health insurance companies.
Covering the Costs of Medical Marijuana
Because medical insurance doesn’t cover medical marijuana, you’ll need to pay for it yourself. Be sure to follow your state’s protocols for buying medical marijuana. Typically, you’ll need to meet with a doctor to get a recommendation for medical marijuana. When you meet with your doctor, discuss your specific conditions and ask whether the doctor recommends any specific strains or delivery methods. Strains vary significantly in their effects on the body and mind, and some might be better suited to your needs than others. You also don’t have to smoke medical marijuana. There are patches, creams, edibles and other options that might be more comfortable. Some states limit which options are available.
If you have the option, visit or talk to multiple dispensaries. Discuss what your doctor recommended and what you’re looking for. Get prices for the products you’re interested in. Choose a dispensary that offers excellent customer service (and delivery if you need it) and a competitive price on the products you need.
If you’re new to medical marijuana, keep track of what you take, how often you use it and how it impacts your symptoms. This information can help you determine whether it’s working for you and whether you need to make adjustments.