Health insurer announces groundbreaking medical cannabis coverage plan


Medical cannabis patients in Canada will soon have the opportunity to have their medicine covered under a health insurance plan, thanks to Sun Life Assurance Co.

The option will be available through the Toronto-based firm, who insures one in six Canadians, starting March 1. In the company’s press release, Sun Life said coverage will range from $1,500 to $6,000 per year and will apply to medical cannabis received from government regulated providers.

“Medical evidence supports the use of cannabis for some serious and severe medical conditions,” Dave Jones, senior vice-president of group benefits, told The Globe and Mail. “As this has become something our clients have been asking us about more and more, we have moved from the stage of evaluate and review, to now offering it as a benefit for medicinal purposes.”

Jonathan Zaid, executive director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), said the new plan is a step in the right direction, but because it is still an optional add-on it rests on patients’ employers to buy the coverage.

“We hope plan sponsors will see the positive benefits in medical cannabis coverage for their members and employees, including potential cost savings and substation of more harmful drugs, and include this type of coverage on their plan,” Zaid told Leafly.
Plan members and their dependents have to undergo an approval process and meet criteria before benefiting from the plan. The Sun Life plan will cover the following symptoms:
  • Severe or refractory pain related to cancer and nausea associated with cancer treatments
  • Neuropathic pain and spasticity related to multiple sclerosis
  • Pain related to rheumatoid arthritis that doesn’t respond to standard therapy
  • Anorexia and neuropathic pain related to HIV/AIDS
  • Palliative care