Canadian Insurance Company Adds Medical Marijuana Coverage

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Canada’s medical marijuana patients may soon find their medication covered by Sun Life Financial, thanks to a new plan under consideration by the Toronto-based insurance provider.

Dean Connor, Chief Executive Officer for Sun Life Financial, announced last week that the company’s move to include medical marijuana coverage was driven by an elevated interest from Sun Life’s Canadian clientele.

For Canadian patients battling a wide spectrum of debilitating ailments, “medical marijuana has become a very important part of their treatment and pain management program,” Connor explained.

In the Great White North, roughly 235,621 patients are enrolled in Canada’s medical marijuana program as of September 2017. In a province-by-province analysis, Alberta and Ontario both witnessed a noteworthy increase in the total number of medical marijuana patients. In Alberta, 60,479 people were registered as medical marijuana patients as of April 2017. By September, the number of patients had increased to 91,150 — an increase of more than 30,000.

On March 1, 2018, patrons of Sun Life’s plan will have the option “to add medical cannabis coverage to extended health-care plans, ranging from $1,500 to $6,000 per covered person per year,” according to the Financial Post.

Jonathan Zaid, the 24-year-old executive director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, was cautiously optimistic about the news.

“Although there may not be an immediate benefit for patients as specific plan sponsors will need to purchase the coverage, this move will make covering medical cannabis simpler than today’s exception process and speaks volumes to the broader acceptance and legitimacy of medical cannabis,” Zaid noted.

Currently, Canadian medical marijuana patients who wish to have their medication reimbursed by insurance must request an exception for coverage of medications not on the list of eligible benefits, while some plans offer no coverage at all.

While the Canadian company’s plan excludes some qualifying conditions, the insurer’s new offering is a step forward for Canada’s licensed medical marijuana patients.

Manulife Financial Corp., one of Canada’s largest healthcare insurers, also provides insurance coverage for Canada’s medical marijuana patients suffering from debilitating spasticity and neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis.

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