Will My Insurance Pay for CBD Oil?

CBD is quickly gaining popularity as a treatment option for several health conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and lots more. It’s no surprise that even baby boomers are starting to use CBD for age-related health issues. If you’ve thought about using CBD for a medical condition, it’s likely that the question of “will my insurance pay for my CBD oil?” has crossed your mind.

Most people know that health insurance plans won’t cover medical marijuana, but many wonder whether certain plans may cover CBD oil and other CBD products. After all, CBD doesn’t induce a high, and since hemp-derived CBD has been legalized on a federal level thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, many people find it counter-intuitive that health insurance companies are averse to a substance that is both legal and wildly popular.

However, as with many other cannabis-related issues, old attitudes are easy to shift, but a lot more difficult to eradicate completely. CBD’s association with the 20th century’s most demonized plant has established a blurry line that insurance companies are reluctant to cross.

It doesn’t help that, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), marijuana-derived CBD is still classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance. So is CBD oil covered by health insurance companies in the United States? Unfortunately, the answer across the board is no!

cbd oil and insurance

Why Health Insurance Doesn’t Cover CBD Oil

While hemp-derived CBD is now legal on a federal level, marijuana-derived CBD is still classified as a schedule 1 drug. This makes CBD somewhat illegal and leaves it in a legal grey area.

One of the main challenges for CBD is the hostility that powerful government agencies have towards any cannabis-related products. It’s a sentiment that health insurance companies have taken note of and seem to respect.

In 2001, the DEA emphasized via the “Notice of denial of petition to reschedule marijuana” that their main objective to the rescheduling of cannabis and its derivatives isn’t because of its potential abuse, but rather its lack of accepted use in medical treatment. In other words, they don’t acknowledge its medicinal properties, and therefore, it’s still classified as a schedule 1 drug.

Even agencies that have a more open stance on CBD, like the FDA, are helping to block insurance companies from covering CBD. However, there is one notable exception: Epidiolex, which is an anti-seizure medication.

Epidiolex costs around $32,500 for a year’s treatment. In 2018, it was approved by the FDA and subsequently downgraded by the DEA to a schedule 5 substance, and it’s now covered by insurers without exception.

However, this approval has essentially blocked other CBD-derived medication from achieving the same treatment since this means that any other drug containing CBD would need to go through the same expensive, arduous process. Thus far, no other medication has been up for the challenge.

The problem is that without FDA approval, insurance companies won’t approve CBD either. Because CBD is not FDA approved, it cannot be legally prescribed. Ultimately, doctors can recommend that you use CBD, but they cannot prescribe it.

So in summary, here’s why health insurance companies don’t pay for CBD oil:

  • Marijuana and thus, marijuana-derived CBD is considered to be a schedule 1 controlled substance according to the United States Federal Government. As a result, any compounds associated with the plant cannot be prescribed legally.
  • It’s not approved for use by the FDA.

Do We Expect Health Insurance to Cover CBD In The Future?

There will need to be a few changes made for insurers to start to cover CBD oil, but our guess is that it’s inevitable.

But not because we think that they’re great guys who want to pay more; it’s because it will save them money. If you can use CBD to adequately treat psoriasis for $100 per month versus an autoimmune medication for $5000 per month, which option do you think health insurance would go for?

The problem is that they are beholden to the medical practices and FDA, which moves very slowly. There are two possible ways in which CBD oil could be covered under insurance plans, and neither of these is likely to be especially fast. Let’s explore these possibilities.

FDA Approval

This is the first and most obvious possibility. Unfortunately, FDA approval is a long and rigorous process. This means that it could take years for CBD-based drugs to reach the market.

If a product is being marketed as a drug – meaning that it’s intended to have a therapeutic effect, like treating a disease – then it will be regulated as a drug. Generally, these types of products cannot be sold without FDA approval.

Science-Based Decision-Making

CBD users are given the possibility of an alternative. When it comes to CBD, the FDA is committed to science-based decision making, while also taking steps to consider if there are appropriate regulatory pathways for the marketing of CBD, outside of the drug setting.

In other words, if CBD is not being marketed as a pharmaceutical drug, then there are other possibilities.

insurance and cbd oil

Final Thoughts on Insurance Companies Covering CBD

For the time being, the only CBD-based medication that health insurance may cover is Epidiolex – a drug used to treat a rare form of epilepsy. If you want to use CBD oil for any other medical condition, you are going to have to pay for it out of your own pocket.

We can only hope that things will change in the near future. The evidence that supports the therapeutic benefits of CBD continues to grow, which is a great thing. An increasing number of doctors and researchers are supporting the use of CBD, and more and more patients are requesting it. This means that the future for CBD oil being covered by insurance companies looks bright.

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