Joshua McCarthy, a 45-year-old Boston resident with multiple sclerosis, admits that he sometimes struggles to afford his therapeutic cannabis and CBD. A 2017 web-based survey, hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, found that 66% of individuals with multiple sclerosis use cannabis for symptom treatment. Cannabis can help patients reduce fatigue, pain, spasticity, and ultimately improve mobility.
Insurance companies in the United States won’t pay for anything that’s technically illegal. Most health insurance policies include what is known as an “illegal acts exclusion.” This exclusion policy varies from state to state and insurance provider to insurance provider. However, the gist is that health issues that occur due to or in association with your voluntary involvement in an illegal act are not covered. Even though medical marijuana is legal at the state level and CBD (for use outside of health benefits) is legal at a federal level, marijuana is still classified by the federal government as a schedule I controlled substance. Therefore insurance companies can wash their hands of providing coverage by citing this illegal acts exclusion.
What is CBD oil?
The state department that oversees the medical marijuana program evaluates the patient’s online application and, if approved, mails them a medical marijuana card. This process can take up to a month. These cards are valid for a year after they are issued. After that, the patient must meet with their doctor and fill out the application form once again.
The one exception to this rule is the drug Epidiolex – the only FDA-approved prescription CBD used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Any other CBD product (from CBD edibles to CBD oil) is legal as long as it doesn’t purport any health claims.
While the health benefits of CBD oil and medical marijuana have been studied, the federal government needs more peer-reviewed and widespread clinical data to approve this product for individuals’ uses. However, this is a lengthy process and further complicated by the fact that Schedule I drugs are banned from receiving federal or state research grants to study their efficacy as medical treatments. Even if marijuana is federally legalized, the process for approval of prescription drugs through the FDA takes years and extensive studies. And federal insurance programs like Medicaid or Medicare only provide medical coverage for verified, researched, and governmentally approved medical treatments.
Will Medicaid pay for CBD oil? What if prescribed by a doctor?
To explain, despite the growing popularity of using CBD to treat medical conditions, it has not been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for this purpose. That said, there is one exception that exists. In June of 2018, the FDA approved a prescription CBD medication, Epidiolex, which is used to treat two types of epilepsy. Please note that this is the only CBD product for which Medicaid will pay.
No, Medicaid, nor any other insurance, will pay for CBD (cannabidiol) oil. This holds true even if it is prescribed by a physician.
Further complicating the use of CBD oil for medicinal purposes, and Medicaid coverage, is that the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Agency) still classifies CBD oil as a Schedule I Drug, the same class of drugs as heroin and ecstasy. As a side note, any FDA-approved CBD product with no greater than 0.1% THC (tetrahydrocannabinols) are considered to be Schedule V Drugs. This class of drugs has a low potential for abuse and contains some cough and anti-diarrhea medications.
Regular marijuana has been used for years as a pain relief option, with it often being legal for medicinal use even in places where it is illegal recreationally. However, those who chose to use it for pain management would still incur the high that comes along with marijuana use, whether they wanted that high or not. By taking that out of the equation, it’s possible to reap some of the benefits of this compound’s pain-relieving effects without having to deal with psychoactive implications. For some, this will be a big selling point, and it will make CBD oil an appealing alternative treatment.
This is the natural place to get started. What is this stuff, anyway? If you first associate CBD oil with marijuana when you hear it brought up by friends or family members, you aren’t far off – but this isn’t the same thing as marijuana. Rather, to make CDB oil, the chemical compound cannabidiol is extracted from the cannabis plant. That compound is then diluted with an oil before it is sold.
What is CDB oil?
With regard to side effects, there is some good news – most CBD oil users don’t experience notable side effects. Everything you put into your body comes with the potential of some side effects, but for the most part, the risk of significant side effects is pretty low when using CBD oil.
As for the caregiver administering CBD oil, the same considerations should be made as any individual will make when considering using this product. In other words, the patient’s doctor should be involved in any decision to use CBD oil, as it is important to make sure it’s safe to use with other medications. If a CBD oil product is administered, it should always be given within the guidelines provided with the oil.
Anytime you introduce something new to your body, you need to be sure and consider how it might interact with other substances that you ingest regularly. In other words, you don’t want to start using CBD oil only to find that it has a negative impact on other medications that you use to manage your health. As you might imagine, the potential interactions between CBD oil and other drugs are complicated to say the least, so this is a topic to give careful consideration if you have ongoing prescriptions.