Ever since the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, there has been quite a debate over its use. It started out as a treatment for chronic pain and controlling anxiety. Since then, though, cannabidiol (CBD) oil manufacturers have claimed that it can help with everything from depression to even acne and heart disease.
CBD a naturally occurring substance that is extracted from hemp plants, which are grown in artificial conditions, especially for this purpose. Now CBD oil may be beneficial for some people, but the real question is: does Medicare cover CBD oil?
Even though the medical use of marijuana and CBD oil is legal in some areas, due to federal laws, Medicare does not and cannot cover its expenses.
Why doesn’t Medicare cover CBD oil expenses?
CBD oil is labeled as a Schedule 1 drug by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), as it contains THC, which is a narcotic. This category includes drugs like LSD, Heroin, Marijuana, and other drugs that have incredibly high abuse risk as claimed by the Controlled Substance Act.
Since it is not legal by federal laws, most medical insurance programs such as Medicare do not cover it, as it would be against the law. The patients buying CBD from medical dispensaries in different states must pay for it out-of-pocket.
Medicare and other insurance programs are looking at several trials and tests to somehow get pure CBD oil approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Since there is a lack of serious research, the insurance companies cannot cover your CBD involved treatment.
So far, what they know is that the oil acts as an anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxer, painkiller, and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as depression and anxiety, but there are no hardcore clinical based results. The government cannot fund trials until the DEA claims CBD as a Schedule 1 narcotic.
People are using CBD oil for the treatment of several medical problems.
CBD oil works wonders as an anti-inflammatory and has been shown to possibly lower blood pressure. We know that CBD oil is thought to reduce stress and anxiety, so this in turn may be what results in the lower blood pressure. It is also considered an antioxidant which can help to prevent heart damage.
Other painkilling drugs used for this treatment have some severe side effects, which may even include liver failure. Taking CBD in any form is said to ease the inflammation and as a natural extract, has less side effects.
Reduce Cancer Pain and Nausea
Many cancer patients complain of pain during and after treatment. Some studies have shown that people treated with CBD and THC experienced a considerable reduction in chronic pain compared to those who were treated with THC extract alone.
Another study showed that CBD and THC compounds helped to reduce vomiting and dronabinol, a synthetic cannabis product, has been approved for patients who are experiencing nausea related to chemotherapy treatment.
Also known as a natural relaxant, CBD can make you less tense which in turn reduces muscle soreness. If severe pain is causing insomnia when undergoing cancer treatment, some patients report being able to fall asleep easier and stay asleep for longer periods of time.
Clear Up Acne
CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties can possibly help to clear up acne by reducing the sebum protection that sometimes results in clogged pores and blemishes.
Low levels of serotonin are thought to be connected with depression. CBD oil can have a positive effect on the brain’s serotonin receptors. While CBD may not boost serotonin levels by itself, it can modify how your brain’s chemical receptors respond to the serotonin that you naturally have in your body.
CBG oil has also become a more popular way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder naturally without the use of any synthetic drug.
Improve Mental Clarity
Stress and anxiety can often keep you up at night, which makes for a foggy brain the next day. CBD oil may assist with certain sleeping disorders and can therefore help you get a better night’s rest so that you have more mental clarity the following day.
When would Medicare start covering CBD oil treatment?
Approval from the FDA is a must to sell any CBD included drugs or oil. This means that the CBD contained drugs would have to go through rigorous testing to get approved, which is a long and difficult process.
Without the FDA’s stamp of approval, Medicare and private insurance companies will not cover its expenses. Medicare supplement plans can only pay toward things that Medicare first approves, so your Medigap plan won’t help you with it either.
This may take several years of research and trials. Meanwhile, CBD oil, which is readily available in many pharmacies and supermarkets throughout the U.S., will be an out-of-pocket expense for you.
In the Meantime
There are some CBD alternates available such as CBD derived drugs, which are FDA approved and covered by Medicare as well as other health insurance companies. These other medications are mostly synthetic whereas CBD is a naturally derived substance.
Even though the President signed a 2018 farm bill which declared hemp as an agricultural crop, the FDA is not willing to take any risk without some serious clinical trials and claim CBD oil as a proper medical drug. The DEA still looks over the regulation of hemp crop as well as its production and distribution.
It is safe to say that for the time being, Medicare beneficiaries will continue to pay for CBD products out-of-pocket. With that said, the Medicare program is continually evolving and as more data becomes available, you may see CBD on your Medicare formulary one day.