Medicare & Medical Marijuana

In mid-January, four dispensaries opened in Ohio for the sale of medicinal cannabis (marijuana) to residents over the age of 21 who have qualifying medical conditions.

There appears to be a growing interest among older adults who are hoping medical marijuana may be a viable alternative for pain relief. If you are among those interested, there are a few things you need to know before you drop by to shop at one of the dispensaries.

First, a certified physician must verify in writing that you have a qualifying condition. He or she must then create a profile for you in the Patient & Caregiver Registry after which you will need to complete your registration. Once this is done, you can bring your certification (also called a recommendation) to the dispensary and make a purchase.

Unfortunately, some people think of the doctor’s certification as a ‘prescription’ for marijuana. They are under the mistaken belief that their Medicare will cover all or part of the cost. It won’t. Medicare does not cover medical marijuana.  

At this time, neither Medicare Part D, nor any other health insurer that I am aware of provides assistance for medical marijuana. One of the main reasons is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of medical marijuana. Without FDA approval, marijuana will not be added to your Prescription Part D formulary.

The entire medical community has not embraced the idea of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Some insurers note there are other FDA-approved drugs that can be used in place of medical marijuana. And, because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, insurance companies are reluctant to risk prosecution.

Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Supplements are following the official Medicare lead and are not providing coverage. The official Medicare website,, does not even address this question. At this time, those who buy medicinal marijuana will be responsible for 100% of its cost.

I welcome your questions concerning life, health, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplements and other insurance. Please contact me at 440-255-5700 or to discuss your needs.

Laura Mutsko

Laura Mutsko is a licensed insurance agent offering a complete line of health and life insurance products, including Individual, Group and Family Health, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplement Plans, Medicare Part D Prescription Coverage, Vision, Dental and Life Insurance. Contact Laura at 440-255-5700. Mutsko Insurance Services, LLC is located at 6982 Spinach Drive in Mentor, Ohio.

Volume 10, Issue 2, Posted 4:44 PM, 01.30.2019