Veterans Affairs programs consider covering more than just vaporizers

Published Jan 29, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / RMfotografie

Canadian medical marijuana patients might soon have new, more exciting options covered through the Department of Veterans Affairs benefits. Since 2014, the DVA has covered the expense of dry herb vaporizers for patients right across the country, but now that they are seeing brand new healthy marijuana products hitting the shelves of local dispensaries, some are saying that it’s time to seek new recommendations to expand on what is currently offered.

In December, Canada finally introduced cannabis edibles to the market, and the evolution of this shift isn’t going to stop there. Soon dispensaries everywhere will carry edibles, beverages, topicals, oils, and more, and that’s got some specialist and experts thinking about a review to establish what changes could be made to these benefits that would truly benefit patients’ lives.

Vape pens and vaporizers are still healthier than smoking

If you enjoy the benefits of a new vaporizer or vape pen each year, then this announcement should not be cause for concern. So far, there is no reason to believe that the Veteran Affairs program benefits would eliminate these tools as a beneficial item, despite the trauma left behind from the still unexplained vaping epidemic that made headlines all over the world.

The problem with vape pens

There is no way to deny the fact that this helpful program has helped thousands of patients who couldn’t otherwise afford a tool to assist with a method of consumption that is healthier than smoking, but the truth is that this limited list of covered options leaves most of our most vulnerable patients out in the cold, those who suffer from respiratory issues who cannot tolerate inhaling any kind of substance are at the top of that list.

Coverage for more than devices

There are a few technologically advanced cannabis consumption tools that could be considered, like this one that turns water into a cannabis-infused drink in minutes. However, they can come with a pretty hefty price tag that would make them unfeasible, which is why so many are speculating as to the possibility of edibles, capsules, oils, and other goods getting added to the list. Unfortunately, this is little more than a rumor at this time, but the latest buzz has patients and doctors all over Canada excited about the idea.

Veterans Affairs promises change will have no adverse impact on patient care

The top representatives of the program have released statements to the public as an assurity that no matter what happens or how many items are added to the list of covered options, the agency has the intention to get involved in patient care. This is essentially a fancy way of saying that they won’t attempt to influence the kinds of cannabis-related treatments that patients are getting, citing this as the sole responsibility of healthcare providers.

Will these change impact more than just Canadians?

Unfortunately, Veterans Affairs in Canada is much different than the US version. However, that doesn’t mean that Americans won’t get the chance to benefit from this shift in view. As the cannabis industry becomes intertwined with medical sciences, and more widely accepted by the public at large, these adjustments in coverage are almost certain to catch on eventually. In fact, many different governments are using Canada's success (or lack thereof) to plan out their own version of legalization, so change is coming, and it’s only a matter of time.

The future of Veterans Affairs coverage

Though it is far too early to say for sure what kinds of changes will be coming in the near future, Veterans Affairs has promised to work closely with Health Canada to get the best recommendations moving forward, and this is a really good thing. Especially considering the lack of cannabis-related health coverage that is currently available in Canada, with most companies choosing to either offer no insurance, or a highly unaffordable monthly premium. Neither of which are helpful for most Canadians with comprised health conditions.

As time passes and we learn more about how these different types of cannabis products can impact us and help to treat specific conditions, the hope is that the tools and products become available to the general public in an affordable way that enhances patients’ lives. Be it that they are covered by private insurance or OHIP, this change is absolutely necessary, as the evidence builds to prove that cannabis can be much more effective and powerful than so many harmful, more traditional pharmaceutical options.

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