With the government changes quickly coming for the legalization of cannabis, the topic of medical cannabis has become an increasingly popular topic within the group benefits world.
Medical Cannabis – Group Benefits Plan:
Despite the imminent legalization of cannabis in Canada, a large majority of insurance companies have not changed their benefit plan policies. Because of this, they need not comply, since cannabis does not yet hold the necessary drug identification number (DIN). However, some insurance carriers are already covering the use of medical cannabis for specific critical conditions.
Specifically, Sun Life has optional medical cannabis on their benefit plans for Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and HIV/AIDS. If your benefits plan does not cover medical cannabis, some insurers are willing to evaluate your plan on a case-by-case basis for the extended health care portion of your plan.
Medical Cannabis – Health Spending Account:
Groups which have a Health Spending Account (HSA) set up, are able to claim medical cannabis. Note that plan member must provide a doctor’s note (authorization letter) from the physician. Only dispensaries that are registered with the Health Canada ACMPR (properly licensed) will be approved through this account.
An HSA account allows businesses to turn after-tax personal medical expense into a before-tax business tax deduction. The corporation presets the amount of health spending dollars, which is assigned to you at the start of every benefit year. The HSA either functions as a stand-alone or you can use it to top-up your benefit plan by covering the portions of your medical expenses that the benefit plan does not reimburse. If you would like to set up an HSA account for your business, please contact us here
In summary, due to the increasing demand for medical cannabis, and with the legal changes coming in 2018, we are expecting that more insurance providers will be adjusting their benefits plans to include coverage for this treatment.
Bonus material attached: Sample Alcohol & Cannabis Policy for Your Workplace
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Jeff Devlin | Certified Financial Planner, Director