You cannot get medical coverage for medical marijuana. The New Jersey company wants to change that.

Don Parisi, co-owner of Bennabis, a New Jersey-based company that aims to be the first in the country to offer health coverage to patients who need help paying for their cannabis, called the move a “trigger for we”. Workers’ compensation cases are an easy base for accessing this untapped market, said Parisi, a former insurance executive and Union County resident.

Bennabis – only 13 months old and still in start-up mode looking for investors – has a double mission. One side of the business will offer property and casualty insurance for dispensaries and other industries affecting plants. The other, Bennabis Health, will act as an intermediary between patients and employer-sponsored health plans. Even with the favorable Supreme Court ruling, patients who receive the workers commission still face financial hurdles if they have to pay first and then seek reimbursement from their employer, which has been described in court records. between Vincent Hager, the injured worker and the complainant and his former employer, M&K Construction.

And the cost of cannabis in New Jersey remains prohibitive for many patients, between $ 350 and $ 500 an ounce. “There could be a whole slew of potential petitioners from competing workers who can’t afford that upfront payment,” Parisi said.

As long as the federal government continues to classify cannabis as an illegal substance with no medicinal value, convincing employers and insurance companies to cover cannabis like other drugs will be a very difficult sale. Bennabis is “dedicated to filling the gaps in the health insurance industry for patients with medical cannabis and providing coverage for patients left behind due to federal government restrictions,” according to the company’s website. .

The company’s 12 owners / investors marketed their proposal to workers’ compensation bodies with the argument that cannabis could allow some employees to return to work sooner, Parisi said. And for transport workers who might not want to pay the dispensary directly, Bennabis would be their go-between, Parisi said.

A “top payer” Parisi declined to identify recently requested evidence of cannabis efficacy, and the company was able to share this study with her. “It’s pretty clear that (cannabis) doesn’t cure anything, but it definitely helps people be more productive,” he said. Bennabis is working to change mindsets and ease reluctance by sharing studies like the recent one co-authored by William Paterson University economics professor Rahi Abouk. Based on nine years of workers’ compensation claims, employees 40 and older filed 20% fewer claims in states with medical marijuana programs. Claims data showed that employees using cannabis for pain management filed fewer claims, according to the study.

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