If you’re considering trying medical marijuana or looking for a doctor who prescribes medical marijuana in Ontario, you may be wondering if it’s covered by OHIP, Ontario Health Insurance Plan.
In this post, we discuss if medical cannabis is covered by provincial health insurance programs and private insurance companies. We also go over alternative options to save money on your medication, including newly updated rules on reimbursable expenses under your healthcare spending account.
Does OHIP Cover Medical Marijuana?
The short answer: Medical marijuana appointments with a qualified doctor are covered by OHIP. However, the medical marijuana you are prescribed—and related devices such as vaporizers—are not covered by OHIP, although in 2020, we started seeing more private insurance coverage options available to patients. For patients who don’t have coverage, they can claim their medical cannabis prescriptions on their taxes as a medical expense.
Medical cannabis doesn’t have a DIN (drug identification number) yet. For this reason, it isn’t covered by the Ontario Drug Benefit program and other provincial health insurance programs.
That said, there are more ways we are helping patients find alternative savings and coverage through options such as Healthcare Spending Accounts (HSA), compassionate pricing offerings from Licensed Producers, ODSP, and tax refunds. Some exceptions may also apply to synthetic marijuana medications, such as Nabilone (Cesamet®).
Veteran Cannabis Coverage
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) recognizes medical marijuana and provides coverage. Veterans can be reimbursed for up to 3 grams of medical cannabis per day (or its equivalent value in other medicinal forms). Veterans who are prescribed over 3 grams, can still be covered for up to 10 grams, with approval from a specialist, like the psychiatrists or pain specialists at Apollo.
ODSP Cannabis Coverage
Patients on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) may receive coverage for cannabis-related medical devices, such as a vaporizer, and a discount on their medical cannabis called “compassionate pricing”. Please connect with Apollo to help with all the proper paperwork involved.
Is Medical Marijuana Covered by My Work Insurance?
Because medical marijuana doesn’t have a DIN, it isn’t currently covered by many workplace insurance plans but is beginning to be introduced by some insurance companies as a coverage option.
Some private insurance plans only cover legal medical marijuana used for specific purposes. For example, Sun Life Financial, The Co-operators, Desjardins, and Manulife have started introducing it as an option for employers to add medical cannabis coverage into employee benefit plans. If you would like to learn more about how to claim your medical cannabis on your insurance or taxes, or the entire list of insurance companies offering coverage, check out our blog on medical cannabis & insurance.
Although most workplace insurance plans do not cover medical marijuana, it’s still worth checking. Since the therapeutic use of cannabis is becoming more widely accepted, if your insurance company doesn’t currently cover your medication, you should call periodically to check for any changes.
Claiming Medical Cannabis Under Your Healthcare Spending Account (HCSA)
As The Canada Revenue Agency now lists medical cannabis as an eligible medical expense, it is now often claimable under an individual’s healthcare spending account. This is an out-of-pocket medical expense by the individual that is later reimbursed. Firstly, check that your private / workplace insurance will allow cannabis to be claimed under your HSA/HCSA, and be sure to provide your receipts and medical document from your LP alongside the claim submission. You can see our step by step guide here on submitting your claims.
What Are My Other Options?
Many Licensed Producers (LPs) offer what’s called “compassionate pricing.” This means that people who are on government social assistance or who are considered low-income may be eligible for a discount, which ranges from 10% to 30% savings off of one’s prescription.
Since these guidelines vary by LP, you may want to ask about compassionate pricing before choosing a provider. An Apollo patient educator can help you choose an LP that is best for your financial needs.
In addition, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) allows patients to file medical cannabis costs as a medical expense when filing income taxes. To qualify, you must have a prescription and receipts from the LP who provides your medicine. Be sure to obtain your receipts and a copy of your medical document from the Licensed Producer(s) you are registered with, in case you are later asked for documentation.
What’s My First Step?
Medical cannabis may help with a variety of conditions. If you’re interested in learning how or have any questions about medical cannabis in Canada, please give us a call toll-free at 1-877-560-9195 or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Apollo’s team is dedicated to ensuring patients have access to affordable medicine and will ensure your personalized treatment plan meets your financial needs.
Contact us for a free phone or video consultation with a physician. If you live in Canada and are looking for a Medical Cannabis prescription, your appointment with the doctor is covered and free at Apollo Clinics.