Why medical marijuana isn't covered by insurance

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jun 19, 2018

For Jonathan Fisher of Buffalo, after multiple car accidents, excruciating pain is something he deals with everyday.

"It's the kind of pain that changes your life because you can't move like you used to," he said.

One thing he says helps his pain more than any medication on the market is medical marijuana, but that drug, while legal in New York State isn't covered by insurance.

"It's way more than you pay for an opiate prescription because insurance doesn't pay for it," he said. "I'm paying $350-$400 a month for it (medical marijuana)."

Medical marijuana has been proven to help reduce opiate addiction, a growing problem across the country. Opiates, which are highly addictive are covered by insurance because the pills are regulated by the FDA. Medical marijuana is not regulated, so doctors say they can't do studies on it.

"Over 5,000 patients I see, over 30 percent come back and say it works but they can't afford it," said Dr. Laszlo Mechtler of DENT Neurologic.  

Dr. Mechtler has lobbied in Washington for marijuana to change it's classification. Currently, it's a federal issue, and even though it's legal in New York State, insurance companies can't cover it.

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"We need support from now just New York State but the federal government so physicians can do the appropriate research," Dr. Mechtler said.


7 Eyewitness News reached out to several Western New York insurance companies who all say they can't cover medical marijuana because it is not regulated by the FDA.