Ultra Health, the leading cannabis company of New Mexico, has written to state agencies and insurance companies to include marijuana treatment for certain categories of patients, in the list of treatments covered by health insurance.
According to the company, a new law enacted by the state has made the change obligatory. This new law prohibits the imposition of cost-sharing and payment of expenses directly to healthcare providers by the patient or his family, in the case of behavioral health treatments, which include treatment for mental illnesses and substance use disorders, as well as trauma disorders.
According to Senate Bill 317 that was signed into law by the governor, behavioral health services include professional as well as ancillary services provided for the therapy, skill improvement, identification, and prevention of mental disorders, substance use disorders, and trauma disorders.
And these services include inpatient treatment, residential treatment, detoxification, outpatient therapy, partial hospitalization, and all medications required for these treatments.
According to Ultra Health, the phrase ‘all medications’ is very important as cannabis is also used as a medicine by many people falling under the above spectrum of diseases.
In their letter, the company has pointed out that though at first glance the idea may look a bit far-fetched, under the new law of the state it is fully reasonable and rational. Further, in New Mexico, there is already workers’ compensation coverage for cannabis treatment, the same way other prescription medications have this coverage.
The letter says that insisting on insurance coverage for cannabis-based treatments is no revolutionary step, but only a natural, logical move under the changing scenario.
Ultra Health does acknowledge that at this stage there could be problems related to fund diversification for covering medical cannabis, mainly because marijuana is still not legalized by the federal government.
As such, it is difficult to expect federal funding for the process, and programs that get federal funding might have to separate the funds and rely only on non-federal funding for covering medical cannabis.
Ultra Health does understand that there are other functional details that will have to be handled when insurance companies are asked to cover medical cannabis costs.
This is probably because many insurance companies are unfamiliar with the changing landscape and see cannabis dispensaries as badly-managed messed-up centers that cannot be treated on par with other treatments that get medical coverage.
The company is of the opinion that such convictions can be dispelled without difficulty once everyone gets familiarized with the setup of present-day cannabis dispensaries. To support their claims, the company also cites the policies already in place in countries like Germany, Canada, Israel, and Columbia, where medical cannabis is covered to varying degrees by the traditional medical insurance sector.
Marissa Novel, CMO of Ultra Health, said to Marijuana Moment, that her company was yet to receive any response to the letter. However, the company believes that the letter would make a strong impact on insurers, legal sectors, and the country at large.
She believes that state funds should be used for cannabis coverage so that insurers do not have to worry about federal funding.
There are still pending issues in courts regarding the use of medical marijuana. A state judge of New Mexico ruled in 2020 that patients using medical cannabis should not be punished for using them in prison.
There were also disputes on whether workers should be reimbursed the expenses of medical marijuana used for treating job-related damages. The decisions of state courts on the question have not been uniform.