European health insurance and marijuana
European health insurance and marijuana

How Does European Health Insurance Handle Medical Marijuana Prescriptions?

Can the US health system learn from European health insurance companies on how to handle medical cannabis?

Posted by:
Dr. Francis G. D'Ambrosio M.D. on Tuesday Mar 16, 2021

How European Health Insurance Handles Cannabis Prescriptions

european health insurance medical marijuana

The importance of effective insurance policies in the health and medical sector can't be stressed enough. Nobody decides to fall ill or get hurt (we all don't want to), but you will need health and medical insurance to cover the high cost of treatment and medical supplies in case  you do.

More so, as a patient, you want to ensure that you are protected as you use certain medical products, but how does this all play out in Europe? How do European health insurance sectors handle the concept of cannabis prescriptions? Is it possible for someone to get reimbursed after paying for cannabis-based treatments? Read on to find out!


Cannabis in Europe

Due to the recent legalization efforts, people can now use medical cannabis to treat numerous illnesses and health conditions across the European Union. However, despite cannabis usage being legalized in some regions of Europe, SOME insurance companies are not compelled by law to pay for it, so you might have to pay out of pocket. 

Typically, insurance companies are supposed to reimburse you when you pay for medical treatment. But cannabis is an exception "for now" because its legalization just happened recently, and the concept of insurance companies covering cannabis treatments is still complicated.

Before we talk about this idea in detail, you should know that the rules regarding insurance companies paying for your cannabis use vary from country to country especially in Europe. Remember that Europe consists of different countries, so it is essential to understand the rules that apply to your country. More so, in some European countries, the government has stepped in by offering insurance interventions for patients who rely on cannabis-based treatment. Let's learn more about these options below.


Why some health insurance providers do not reimburse cannabis prescriptions

The process of authorizing the use of cannabis-based medicine is lengthy in Europe because the legislation backing its usage is still new. So some insurance providers do not reimburse because they don't want to go through such long processes. 

So does this mean you alone will bear the financial burden of your cannabis treatment? Of course not! 

Today in Europe, more and more pharmaceutical schemes are allowing patients to gain access to medical cannabis. These pharmacies offer support to patients who suffer from terminal illnesses and severe conditions that insurance companies wouldn't cover. 

In some cases, the pharmaceutical companies also produce cannabis-based medicines in partnership with doctors that offer relief to patients at no cost. If you are interested in cannabis-based treatment in your country, you might have to search for pharmaceuticals that partner with doctors for cannabis treatment. 

You may either get some price reduction for the cannabis treatment or services offered at no cost, "Compassionate grounds," because these doctors and companies understand the impact of cannabis on their health and believe that cannabis will make a world of difference. 


European countries with legalized cannabis and the potential for insurance coverage 

As investments in the cannabis sector increase, and more works of research are being conducted the European cannabis scene is rapidly developing. In fact several analysts predict that the European cannabis market will become one of the world's largest. 

As the European cannabis market grow, more people rely on medical cannabis as a solution to their health challenges, this will eventually translate into partnerships with insurance companies. 

As earlier mentioned, in some EU countries, there are insurance covers for cannabis use in specific situations. For example, in Germany, the German public insurers cover the cost of medical cannabis for patients who have tried other treatment options and failed at getting relief. 

According to a German newspaper "Rheinische Post" report in 2018, 13,000 patients got reimbursements for cannabis treatment, which is very progressive and promising. 

Patients in Netherlands, Italy, UK, Austria, and Luxembourg can receive reimbursements for cannabis-based treatment. So you see that through government insurance intervention, it is possible to get your refund still. 

If you reside in these countries mentioned above, you will have to provide proof of exhausting all other treatment options before relying on cannabis. You will also need a doctor's prescription indicating that you need cannabis treatment. 


Germany is an excellent example of cannabis insurance in Europe. 

Germany is leading the commitment to cannabis in the EU that has enforced progressive regulatory approaches to medical cannabis from an insurance perspective. The German process entails building a safe market for cannabis to thrive such that medical marijuana is fast becoming the most dependable option for treatment in Germany. 

Of course, every country is allowed to grow and accept cannabis at its own pace. Still, if Germans are already benefiting from cannabis insurance, they will leave the other non-proactive countries in Europe behind. 

Interestingly, other European countries started to follow Germany's example by granting patients easy access to medical cannabis. Since Germany took its cannabis industry seriously in 2017, they awakened a sense of urgency in Europe that cannabis is the future. 

By taking cannabis insurance seriously, Germany has positioned itself as the future epicenter for cannabis treatment in Europe. This may not seem like "progress" because we are talking about only one country in a region, but considering how far cannabis has come, it is a significant improvement. 


Bottom line 

The increasing wave of cannabis legalization in Europe and across the world has enabled conversations around the possibility of insurance coverage for cannabis patients.

Although some private insurance firms still do not offer insurance coverage through reimbursement to patients, some countries in Europe have risen to the occasion. These countries through government intervention provide coverage for their citizenry, thus promoting the use of cannabis for health challenges. So if you are in Europe and you are concerned about insurance coverage as you prepare to use cannabis, please find out if your country offers insurance intervention. 

The future of cannabis in Europe is promising because of the wide range of medical conditions CBD helps with. Cannabis insurance in Europe is still in its early stages but with consistent growth the sector can develop into something great.







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