SSQ Life Insurance Co. Inc. will provide plan sponsors with the option of covering medical marijuana beginning Jan. 1, 2019,
The move is in relation to recent clinical advances showing the efficacy of cannabis in treating certain medical problems, according to the Quebec-based insurer.
To help keep group insurance costs in check, SSQ will require prior authorization before cannabis is covered. As well, it will cover cannabis only after standard treatments have failed to work.
The coverage will be provided for chronic neuropathic pain, pain related to cancer, spasticity secondary to multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury and nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
“This coverage, in compliance with federal law on medical marijuana use, is for those for whom traditional prescription drugs have been deemed ineffective,” said Éric Trudel, senior vice-president of strategies and product management at SSQ, in a press release.
The company said it will make the necessary adjustments to eligibility conditions as it monitors legislative changes and clinical advances. It’s also mandating that the medical cannabis must be prescribed by an authorized physician or nurse and purchased only from a licensed Health Canada vendor.
SSQ joins other insurers, such as Green Shield Canada and Sun Life Financial Inc., in providing medical marijuana coverage.