UBC Okanagan will offer medical marijuana coverage in student health plan
It's the first B.C. university to offer the coverage
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
UBC Okanagan will be the first university in BC to insure costs of medical marijuana for its students.
Details of the one-year pilot project are still being hashed out but the idea is that a student’s health benefits plan will cover the cost for medical cannabis. People with severe chronic pain and nausea from chemotherapy will take priority.
A third party will assess students who want coverage but Jonathan Zaid, founder and executive director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana says because it is a trial run spots may be limited for students who want to be covered, and it may not insure the average out of pocket cost for medical cannabis.
“An average dose is about $500 a month and given that it’s a pilot program it’s not necessarily going to cover that much,” he said.
While the project might not offer full coverage, Zachary Walsh, associate professor of psychology at UBC Okanagan, says this program could help find savings in terms of other medications. Walsh will lead and oversee the research framework to assess the program.
“People are just piling cannabis on top of other medicines and that may not be as effective, but if it allows people to cut back on things that might be problematic then I think that's something that health providers need to know.”
Walsh said there’s been a drop in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements for prescription drugs in the US because of medical marjuana.
Students who are approved for coverage will have to pay a 20 percent co-pay to ensure the program is not misused. The coverage will be offered in September of 2018.
UBC Okanagan is the second institution to carry out a plan to endorse cannabis after the University of Waterloo in 2014.