MONCTON – Medavie Blue Cross will provide a new Extended Health Care benefit covering medical cannabis, the company announced Tuesday. The benefit is available as an optional, stand-alone coverage option beginning this month.
The benefit will be available to people with a limited range of conditions based on Canadian Family Physician Guidelines for prescribing medical cannabinoids:
- Chronic neuropathic pain
- Refractory pain in palliative cancer care
- Nausea and vomiting due to cancer chemotherapy
- Spasticity in multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury
To qualify for reimbursement, Blue Cross says plan members must receive pre-authorization and obtain medical cannabis in accordance with the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).
In other words, patients must obtain their cannabis projects from licensed suppliers and not “grey market” dispensers that are still operating in communities across the province.
The medical cannabis benefit is provided as a reimbursement benefit covering fresh and dried cannabis and cannabis oil. Other cannabis products and products related to the consumption of cannabis are ineligible.
Cannabis is a complex substance unique in the health benefits landscape. It has been legal since 2001 but it’s not considered a prescription medication by Health Canada and does not meet typical requirements to be eligible for coverage under a prescription drug plan.
Blue Cross says it will continue to monitor the latest clinical evidence and emerging trends to assess the new benefit on an ongoing basis.