How To Get Health Coverage If You’re A Medical Marijuana Patient

Source: Goodnight London/flickr

by Peter Res

Medical Marijuana, which is legal for use in 20 states plus Washington DC, has been the subject of much controversy over the past several years. Although marijuana has shown to be an effective treatment for terminal and chronic illnesses as well as anxiety, it is still classified as Schedule 1 under Federal law, along with heroin, cocaine, and other narcotics, and is considered a hazardous and highly illegal substance, regardless of state law.

Due to this federal designation, the FDA does not plan to approve the drug, which means that insurance companies have chosen to steer clear of covering its cost to consumers, under any circumstances.

For the person with chronic pain or illness who uses medicinal marijuana as a remedy for pain, this news can be absolutely crushing, especially if your treatment requires you to purchase large quantities of the drug.

How then, can the problem be solved?

Are patients stuck with the burden of paying full price, sometimes hundreds of dollars, for medical marijuana?

Contrary to what you might think, there are a few ways to potentially get around at least some of the costs associated with medical marijuana, and still keep your insurance coverage.

Here’s a step-by-step guide of how it can be done, as well as some generally smart practices to keep in mind along the way.

Know Your Registration Rights: How You Can Benefit

The 20 states that currently permit medical marijuana usage are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Each of these states has their own unique regulations regarding medicinal marijuana use and registration.

If you live in one of these states, and you’re already registered by the state as a user, then you are well aware of this fact. But it’s important to know what benefits you qualify for as well.

How can knowing registration specifics help you afford your medication?

Some states offer lower registration fees for users who apply for them. New Jersey, for instance, offers reduced registration fees through their Medicinal Marijuana Program, under certain circumstances. The fee of $200 can effectively be reduced to $20 for patients that are covered by Medicaid, are on Social Security Disability, SSI, or Food Stamps. For more information, see the NJ MMP Page.

In some states, dispensaries and centers are permitted to offer their products at a reduced cost to consumers.

If you’d like to know if these options are possible in your state, inquire with the state directly (and anonymously), go to your state’s official website to find out more.

State to state: All approved states, except Oregon, require a residency requirement for registration.

Alternative Options For Reducing Cost

Did you know that 15 of the 20 states that permit medical marijuana usage also permit home cultivation, or growing of plants, under certain circumstances?

You may live in a state that allows you to cultivate your own plants for your personal medical use. This can considerably offset the cost of paying full price for medicinal marijuana products at dispensaries and alternative care centers.

For more information on the specific laws of each state, as well as the conditions that are required for cultivation, see, a great resource for specific state requirements, procedures, and benefits.

Stay Informed

Marijuana laws are constantly changing, and states are slowly becoming more open to the idea of allowing its use for medicinal purposes.

Although the Affordable Care Act does not mention the use of marijuana for treatment, and the Federal government is staunchly opposed to delisting it as a Schedule 1 drug, petitions have been filed at the state and congressional levels, and researchers are continuing to find proof of marijuana’s usage in medical cases, particularly in cancer and chemotherapy treatment, and the treatment of muscular diseases such as MS.

Notably, more states are leaning toward implementing medicinal marijuana regulation, and a few states, such as Virginia and New Hampshire, have laws on the books that have yet to be implemented.

For those of you who are struggling to find an affordable way to cover the cost of your treatment, or who live in a non-medical marijuana state such as New York, it is important not to lose hope.

Regulations change rapidly, and federal law is also subject to change. You may find one day soon that you qualify under new regulations to benefit from the reduced cost of medical marijuana. There may even be a regulation in place that you can benefit from immediately.

Peter Res is a writer, poet, and editor. In addition to writing for Vista Health Solutions he is currently an adjunct professor of Writing and Composition at Centenary College of New Jersey, and an editor for the literary magazine Collective Fallout.

Old Hippie is a father of two boys and thankfully living in California where all this kind of thing is legal. He started smoking marijuana in 1967 in high school, experimented with mind-expanding drugs of all kinds, and then straightened out 15 or so years later to become an airplane pilot. After being diagnosed with depression in 2000, he lost his job and most of the following decade to prescription medications (such as antidepressants) which sapped his energy and will. Finally, a chance conversation with a friend led to a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana (MMJ). This changed his entire life, health, and outlook for the better. is his continuing story. It’s also his way to provide experienced advice on using medical marijuana effectively and responsibly, as well as advocacy, activism, and support for others. Old Hippie teaches about safe use of cannabis edibles, Canna Caps, vaporizers, dosing, and even microdosing.


Every part of my body has been bolted on … 7 shoulder surgeries hip replacement /2 back surgeries .. 2 level fusion and hip replacement aug 5 -14 …. I am totally disable with horrible pain … Will Medicare/Medicade help me with the cost of dr and meds … The oil completely changes my life … Ready to live on the street just for relief from this nightmare pain !!! Does anyone know it disability Medicare / Medicade help me ? Thanks .. Colorado NJ Washington cali ? Any of them id go to get help … Thanks

Dear Roger,

Wow, that really sounds rough.

Although on paper there are 23 states that have medical marijuana, in reality there are many that are MMJ in name only. New Jersey is one of them; you must have one of a very limited number of diseases, and there are only two dispensaries in the entire state. There are a number of other states almost as bad. So your best bet for a state is one where you will feel comfortable living in that has guaranteed access to legitimate MMJ. Colorado is probably the safest bet is you can deal with the cold and the altitude, because Washington has screwed up its entire MMJ program (you can still get legal cannabis there though).

Having said all that…there is no way that Medicare or Medicaid will actually pay for your MMJ directly, because it’s still Federally illegal. So you’ll still have to get by on Social Security and any money you can make otherwise. Many private MMJ dispensaries have programs to help patients who don’t have a lot of money, because this is a common problem.

Best of luck!
Old Hippie

Dude in same place got hit by 280 ton crane at 29 while eating lunch right where i was sappose to be they fuckup cause i had bad work record. Got shit but there a drug that docor can give you it a katoralc it takes a way the pain that nothin else will i used to have to go to er to get it in shot but pain doctor gave me it not a high to it but the pain goes away it on of the way the test to see if your a pill head i still need my pills but when that bad pain come dont matter if you eat the whole bottle pain still there you take this drug in hour you feel alot better FYI 🙂

Marijuana Prohibition needs to be repealed. That said we have operate by the politicians rules.
Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts, (where I live) is fairly easy to get a Marijuana Card for. Getting good Marijuana and getting health insurance to pay for it are two different animals. Ive herd of people getting it covered but that’s it. Rumors.
As for treatments in MA Here.s a list of what is being accepted In Mass any doctor can designate any Condition which they feel it can help. Pretty good really.
Finding a doctor in Massachusetts who participates in the program can prove difficult. Being one of the first states to decriminalize Cannabis brought federal scrutiny on the area. Doctor were raided when MMJ first started.
Well lets hope it all works out in the long run.
Peace MMIM

I have epilepsy my meds do not not work any more but the the cbd does but very high in cost will any any one that will deduct the price and sell it it me oe on line I do not drive

I am in CT and I cannot afford these prices anyone got any ideas that could help with cost please I would be so grateful thank you. I suffer with RSD/CRPS 1.

I don’t know if this is your territory or if you can help me, but NY is a new medical marijuana state. Everything here seems to be much more strict than what I’ve heard of in other states, and what is offered is super limited ( I actually only want something to deal with the pain with NO THC in it and they don’t even offer that!!! Any recommendations? Online is full of stuff, but they won’t tell you how much CBD. the pain relieving stuff is in it, , so you will pay a fortune for stuff that won’t work because of the small percentage.) .. Any how.. they list every kind of illness in NY related to my illness, but not my illness., which is Muscular Dystrophy. (A severe muscle wasting and systemic progressive debillitating genetic disease with no treatment. ) Any suggestions as to how I can get that recognized as a condition for which a person can get a medical marijuana card?

I’m also in NY and have my card… a lot of good it’s doing me, I’m using a power chair these days and my insurance pays for medical transportation but they will not cover a trip to the dispensary or help with coverage of the medication… the dispensary offers discounts but with zero income that doesn’t help me… this needs to be fixed and I’m willing to help in anyway I can… any ideas or resources

I copied this from the article above. it states that the FDA does not plan to approve the drug, which means that insurance companies have chosen to steer clear of covering its cost to consumers, under any circumstances. How can knowing registration specifics help you afford your medication?

Some states offer lower registration fees for users who apply for them. New Jersey, for instance, offers reduced registration fees through their Medicinal Marijuana Program, under certain circumstances. The fee of $200 can effectively be reduced to $20 for patients that are covered by Medicaid, are on Social Security Disability, SSI, or Food Stamps. For more information, see the NJ MMP Page.

I think the answer is in what you copied, plus right below that:

In some states, dispensaries and centers are permitted to offer their products at a reduced cost to consumers.

If you’d like to know if these options are possible in your state, inquire with the state directly (and anonymously), go to your state’s official website to find out more.

I live in MA and I’m on Medicaid, social security disability, and Mass Health. On one hand I am reading here that insurance won’t offer discounts because cannabis is federally illegal, then I read you may qualify for a discount for the $200 the doctor charges which I can not afford and it’s the only thing stopping me. My paid doctor has been strongly encouraging me to try medical marijuana as they really think it will help me. So which is it? Will I qualify for a discounted rate for the doctor or not and how do I find out for sure? Thanks for your help.

Well, things have changed radically since that article was written. Massachusetts has now legalized cannabis for not only medical, but also recreational use. So your best bet to find out for sure is probably to ask Mass Health, since that’s associated with the state where cannabis use is legal, as opposed to Medicaid and SS Disability which are federally-run and not cannabis friendly. Good luck!


I do not think so, because as far as I know nobody in the Nevada MMJ program contacts the federal government, and there’s no drug testing for SSI recipients. But I am not an expert in these matters.

How do i chip off loratabs # 10 350. after 8 years,to nugs ???? any one know or is there a doc i can talk to..??????????

Hi I live in Sandusky mich. And I’m 48 almost 49 and need both knees and hips replacement . But if I do exercise it’s doing more damage. I’m a card holder but can’t find out if I can get my insurance company to help. Thanks Corine from Michigan .

When is Indiana gonna agree to this? Heck, I think they should vote or something that all states be allowed MM!!

I have a Florida drivers license, but have a home in Connecticut. Do I qualify to get treatment in Connecticut? I have spinal cord damage.

I need to use Medical Cannabis. I have fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, & I am a cancer survivor. I was given by friend’s to help me get thru the rough time’s. I would never have handled the treatment’s otherwise. I have 1 slight problem. Disability pay does not allow any money left to go to the dispensery. So I’m Stuck Using the narcotics prescribed cuz insurance at least pays for that. But@ my older age my Dr wants me to get off of them, that’s why he signed me up on the Medical Cannabis Program.
So if anyone has an extra $150.00/month feel free to send it this way.
PS, it is the best cure for what ails ( is hurting) you.????????????

I were burn in1997 in my home I was giving meds that blocked memory for years no Dr ever prescribed medical marijuana for me l have 85 prevent burn it’s legal now I have chonic pain post traumatic do stress disorder once I asked my Dr about it she had her nurse to give me a urine test she acted like I said something wrong if I can get to try it and it help I’ll stop taking some of this meds and my brother also who ‘s schizophrenia and has glaucoma we both we need it but I’m not sure we can afford it for the both us a month

My sister dropped a log in between our fathers 4010 John deere.. my body was pinned between the log and tire. I suffer from broken upper body that never healed right. Nor was brought to a medical field doctor at age 11.. I suffer spinal seizures and I have degenerative joint dease I suffer from depression to panic attacks to anxiety. ..!! I have my license. But I pray that the laws of health insurance covers one day soon .. it’s used as medical pain reliever .. ..

I currently receive medical marijuana and in beginning because I have Medicare state Fl. Paid most costs for doctor but all prescription has been out of pocket, now doctor payment is also completely out of pocket yet state of Florida people voted for aamendment num.2 even though law (bill) passed for medical marijuana state won’t pay medical costs for anyone receiving disability yet they’ll pay (the state) will pay for scripts of opiods which kill but not medical marijuana which heals why are laws not being honored voted by people for the people? Is laws people vote in not laws is this country America not built on constitutional rights of American people? Answers please .

There’s no way Medicare, which is run with federal funds, will pay for medical marijuana until well after it is legal at the federal level. And in general, no health insurance in this country is knowingly going to pay for it either. That’s just the way things are.

But I’m so happy that you finally have safe access in Florida!

I feel it should be covered by medical insurance. I have degenerative joint disease, anxiety, and suffered anorexia for years. I’m a medical marijuana patient.

I think it should be covered too, but this is the reality we live with. At least it’s legal for us now, although the federal government has to get on the stick too! Hope you feel better soon!

So, where is the “step by step” way to get around that? This article didnt do any of that. Wasting my time…..

hi folks what you need to do is look at Berkeley ca. and get your city to pass a city law that makes the Dispensery give away 2% of their product to people under a current income. it is called the welfare weed law.

Is there any place in ny cheaper than $180 per visit. My 20 year d son needs it and I am stuck paying for it because he is in extreme pain and this works…..

Everything is expensive in NY, unfortunately! But that’s probably near what it costs in most states without sketchy “pot doctors” anyway. And at least it’s legal!

Have you ever heard of Dronabinol 2.5, 5, 10 mg? Have you ever heard of Cessamet 2.5, 5, 10mg? These are really amazing pills with NO CBD. What happens is that you get this prescribed by your md if you have one of many conditions, I have two of the long list. I have to ask for this every time I visit somewhere because the class IV status makes anyone cringe, I don’t blame them. However, this is medical mj that is then paid for by the state, and my federal medicare HMO. This is all happening and in real time. I think that some people are trying to put the cart before the horse with the way our current system is set up. It is a capitalist not socialist system, and I have had years of diagnosis away from just “pot doctors” lol. It’s a tough long road, and Nobody but nobody is excited to scribble their name across the rx pad for me, but they do, because otherwise I hurl all over my HUD housing and nobody wants that.

I’m looking for HELP my mother is 89, she is being FORCED to REDUCE her monthly in take of HYDROCODONE (240 10mg) down to (90 10mg) and next month MAY 2018 she will be FORCED to be cut down to (90 5mg) per month. She is existing on a VERY MEAGER income, i’m her son and her caregiver. We are unable to move at this time, she is enquiring about MEDICAL MARIJUANA BUT the state of Arkansas is playing POLITICS WITH OUR LIVES (AGAIN) so she is unable to afford much less obtain MEDICAL MARIJUANA! Is their ANYONE OUT THERE WHO WOULD HELP? 8702532154 PLEASE HELP.

Leave a Reply