One of Australia’s biggest health funds has become the first to publicly back medicinal cannabis as a treatment for a range of debilitating illnesses.
Private health insurer Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF) has announced a partnership with West Australian-based medicinal cannabis manufacturer Little Green Pharma (LGP).
Under the deal the health fund will pay rebates for medicinal cannabis across all but one of its Extras policies with eligible members receiving up to $105 back per script, a first for the health fund sector.
Private health insurer Health Insurance Fund of Australia has announced a partnership with West Australian-based medicinal cannabis manufacturer Little Green Pharma. (Supplied)
Its CEO Justin James said the move would allow members access to alternative treatment choices.
“As a member-based health fund, our community is the motivation for everything we do, so assisting members through treatment options that can dramatically improve quality of life across different life stages is a key focus,” Mr James said.
LGP produces strictly- tested CBD and THC-dominant medical cannabis oil products made in WA and available to patients nationally through doctor prescription.
Chronic migraine sufferer Rachel Crowther has been taking medicinal cannabis since June last year and says she has not had an attack since.
“That’s a huge improvement, it’s massive,” she said.
“I can sleep, I can function, I can have a life I didn’t have.”
Private health insurer Health Insurance Fund of Australia will pay rebates for medicinal cannabis for treatment in a range of illnesses. (Supplied)
Prior to taking medicinal cannabis she would suffer migraines at least three times a week and would rely on codeine, likening that medication to “popping Smarties”.
“I’ve tried everything, absolutely everything,” Ms Crowther said.
“I think every health company should come on board and make it affordable for everyone.”
Some patients in Australia are spending $600 a month for medicinal cannabis, with the high price forcing many to the black market and importing the product from the US.
There is currently no subsidy for cannabis products under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to support improved access and research into medicinal cannabis as a treatment option for Australian patients.