While medical marijuana has been around for several years now, there remains some confusion among Canadians as to what—if anything— is covered under the typical medical marijuana insurance plan. There are a lot of insurance providers that each offer their own policies and coverage options, but for the purpose of this article we will answer the question: “Does SunLife cover medical marijuana?”
It’s worth noting that SunLife was in fact one of the first providers of medical cannabis insurance coverage under the extended health care benefit. This allowed medical cannabis to be an optional coverage add-on for employers to provide to their employees.
That policy holds to this day—which is good news for the growing number of patients undergoing treatment with cannabis.
Over the past five years, we’ve seen the number of Canadian medical marijuana patients triple from just under 100,000 to well over 300,000 in 2020.
That number is only expected to continue to grow as the medicinal applications of medical cannabis grow and the stigma surrounding the drug fades with time.
Let’s delve a little deeper into SunLife’s medical cannabis insurance coverage.
SunLife Medical Marijuana Coverage for Employers
As mentioned above, SunLife does provide medical cannabis insurance coverage, but only to people employed by a business with the cannabis coverage add-on bundled with their plan.
Here’s a quick breakdown for employers who are considering offering medical marijuana coverage to their employees:
Consider Your Employee Base and Their Needs
As the cannabis grows in popularity and medical applications, it only makes sense that more and more employees will expect some sort of medical cannabis insurance coverage. This need is growing especially acute as cannabis is increasingly being studied as a potential alternative to far more dangerous and addictive substances, like opioids, when treating pain.
What’s more is that as it’s prescription similarly becomes more commonplace, it’s easy to envision a future where it would be seen as irregular or retrograde to not include medical marijuana coverage in employee health benefits.
Risks of Not Covering as Medical Marijuana Grows in Popularity
As more and more businesses offer medical marijuana insurance, it may actually be a detriment to your hiring efforts if your business opts not to provide coverage for medicinal marijuana. It could certainly develop into a differentiator when employees have to decide between two employment offers.
Resources Available to Explain Medical Marijuana Insurance Coverage
There are a lot of resources available online about medical marijuana and eligibility for insurance coverage. If you’re looking to understand medical cannabis insurance coverage, then you can contact us here at Medical Marijuana Consulting for services that will help you identify plans that cover medical marijuana. We’ve even developed this helpful guide that is a great place to start.
Eligibility for the Medical Marijuana SunLife Insurance Plan
SunLife provides between $1,500 and $6,000 per year in cannabis benefits per covered person. The exact figure is determined by the plan sponsor when they sign the plan.
Anyone who has a plan with SunLife and whose employer has opted for the medical cannabis insurance coverage is eligible to be assessed for medical marijuana. Following that assessment by a trained medical professional, and provided they meet the clinical criteria, they will be able to access marijuana from a government-regulated dispensary and have the treatment covered by the plan.
A prior approval form for medical cannabis must be completed and assessed by SunLife before any claims can be adjudicated. Only plan members or their dependents—in other words, people who fall under the purview of SunLife’s coverage—will be approved.
SunLife Medical Cannabis Coverage: Cost Considerations
As mentioned earlier, there is a cap at $6,000 for the annual sum covered by a SunLife plan. And again, that number will fall somewhere between $1,500 and $6,000 depending on which plan the sponsor selects. It’s worth noting that users who need more of the treatment than that will likely have to pay out of pocket depending on whether they have any other insurance.
What Is the Best Coverage Option from SunLife?
It’s hard to answer which is the “best” coverage option from SunLife. Of course, the more generous the plan the sponsor obtains, the more medical marijuana treatment that an employee can enjoy without having to fear an expensive bill.
What’s more is that marijuana is being researched as potentially having uses during cancer treatment. Considering that the typical fight against cancer can take years and require a large mix of medications, in those instances, it would appear that $1,500 will be woefully insufficient.
Medical Cannabis Coverage Guidance from Medical Marijuana Consulting
If you’re interested in getting medical marijuana insurance coverage or have questions about the medical cannabis industry in general, then you owe it to yourself to contact Medical Marijuana Consulting (MMC).
We are experts at all manner of medical marijuana insurance, including SunLife, and can help both sponsors and employees alike navigate the new and sometimes confusing legal terrains surrounding medical marijuana.
As one of the most trusted names in the medical cannabis industry, MMC helps patients from across Canada access medical professionals who all have deep expertise in medical cannabis. Our team of physicians, psychiatrists, and nurse practitioners can provide a prescription, offer you help to get you coverage for your prescription costs (if eligible), refer you to a licensed producer, and help you understand and access SunLife benefits.
At MMC, we want to make access to medical cannabis as simple as possible for as many people as possible. Join our Ambassador Program and receive $15 for every person you refer to MMC that becomes a patient.
To learn more about Medical Marijuana Consulting and how you can secure a prescription as part of your personalized medical cannabis treatment plan, book a consultation online, contact us at 844-312-5143, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.