August 02, 2018

in Benefits & Health

Manulife announces new medical marijuana program and policy

Earlier this week Manulife, in partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart announced their plans to offer their own medical marijuana program for their clients, to be effective September 1st.

Available for group benefits plans that choose to cover medical marijuana and individual plans in Canada, the program provides those plan members who have been prescribed medical marijuana with case management from a licensed pharmacist who will offer counsel on different strains and administration methods. Individuals will also receive ongoing check-ins, counselling, phone and email support and education to ensure they are receiving the treatment that best meets their medical needs.

"Outsourcing case management for specialty drugs for some insurers is their current practice, so the introduction of case management for people who are prescribed medical marijuana as an alternative drug therapy for the first time makes sense, especially given the increase in acceptance by physicians," says Accompass Associate Vice President, Sandra Ventin.

Manulife’s medical marijuana prior authorization process will be managed through Shoppers Drug Mart (Shoppers will not be dispensing the product, only providing case management).

Manulife's policy will allow for reimbursement for three conditions:

  • Stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms in patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis,
  • Nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy, and
  • Chronic neuropathic pain.
Sun Life's medical marijuana policy 

Earlier this year Sun Life announced that it would be adding medical marijuana as an option for its group benefits plans. With a prior authorization process that runs through their own case management department, their policy will reimburse patients who are prescribed medical marijuana for five conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Aids/HIV
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (when other treatments do not work)
  • Palliative care
  • Multiple sclerosis

Green Shield also announced their plans to include an option for plan sponsors for medical marijuana reimbursement earlier this year, with prior authorization also being managed in house. Reimbursement is currently limited to three conditions:

  • Chronic neuropathic pain
  • Spasticity due to multiple sclerosis
  • Nausea and vomiting due to cancer chemotherapy

As more information is made available regarding medical marijuana in Canada, Accompass will inform our clients. For any additional questions please contact your Accompass consultant. 

Manulife’s FAQ is found here.