All Plans Must Prepare For Cannabis Use

By December 11, 2018 March 11th, 2019 No Comments

Every single plan sponsor will have to stop and think about medical cannabis at some point. “My concern is most plans are not prepared for what’s coming,” says Mike Sullivan, chief executive officer and co-founder of Cubic Health. Speaking at Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meeting & Events’ ‘Benefits 2018’ session, he said medical cannabis is coming and will affect every plan. In fact, “there are already clinical guidelines for cannabis for pain therapy. There are over 800 clinical trials worldwide now.” Sullivan said it’s naïve not to think there’s going to be an explosion of its use. “It’s already show-time for plans with health spending accounts (HSAs),” he said. “People are already submitting claims and will continue to do so. However, HSAs are not a useful or appropriate way for handling cannabis use.” Plans need to focus on the three conditions where cannabis is used – chronic pain, nausea due to chemotherapy, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS) – and that’s all. “If you’re not focused on what the evidence is, you’re going to have some big issues.” Plans also need to define the financial limits to put in place. And, even if they don’t intend to allow cannabis use, sponsors still need a plan in place. At this time, dosages and equivalency factors are not consistent among providers. As well, costs are unknown and need to be considered. Sullivan said sponsors expect cost offsets, but this is unlikely except for in the future with disability claims. “Everything has to be documented and updated regularly because it is changing all the time.” He said he neither encourages nor discourages coverage of medical cannabis under benefit plans – that decision needs to be made by every individual plan sponsor. However, proper management is absolutely critical.

Courtesy of Benefits and Pensions Monitor website News Alerts