Nearly 10,000 applications for medical marijuana therapy have been received by the country’s two largest health insurance companies, with over half of them being approved.
The costs of cannabis therapies in Germany are being increasingly covered by the country’s public health insurance companies. This means patients who receive treatment don’t have to pay for it out of their own pockets, according to German Die Zeit newspaper.
Since March of this year, patients have received cannabis on a prescription basis. Since then, the health insurance funds have received several thousand applications. So far more than half of them have been approved. This is the result of figures from the two largest public health insurers, AOK and Barmer.
For instance, one of the largest public health insurance firms in Germany, the AOK, received 6,600 applications for the reimbursement of medical cannabis treatments. Roughly, 65 percent of the applications were approved. In addition, figures may increase as some requests were rejected. This was only for formal reasons and can be revised if re-submitted by a doctor and a patient.
“Often, for example, lack the statutory medical justification of the application or statements on the previous therapies,” said the spokesman.
According to the spokesperson, the most common reason for the rejection is the lack of medical justification. That means that seriously ill patients must try all standard therapies and apply for cannabis treatment only if those didn’t help. AOK also received applications from patients who did not have any illnesses within the meaning of the law. Occasionally these are cases of herniated discs, which were previously treated only with heat therapy. Individual cases like these are common.
Barmer – Second Largest in Germany
As reported by the Berliner Zeitung, Germany’s second-largest public health insurer, Barmer, has also approved most of the applications for cannabis therapies this year.
Since the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been legalized by the government, the company received about 2,900 applications for reimbursement. Roughly 1,700 of them have been approved.
The reason for rejections was basically the same as in the case of the AOK. Mostly the lack of evidence that other treatment alternatives had proved unsuccessful.
“Medical cannabis is an indispensable part of the treatment of seriously ill patients nowadays, but it is not a panacea,” Barmer CEO Christoph Straub said, cited by the newspaper.
Last March, severely ill patients were given access to cannabis. The requirement is according to the law that all usual therapies have failed. Before the change in the law, expensive therapy was difficult to cover.
However, The Federal Government continues to reject a general legalization of cannabis. The health hazards of cannabis abuse especially in adolescents are medically proven, says FDP Group. Nevertheless, they view that the cannabis ban serves to protect the health of the population.
So far, two municipalities have requested model projects for the controlled sale of cannabis as a luxury item: the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and the city of Münster. Both requests were rejected by the Federal Government as the model projects do not contribute to the medical care of the population.
It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 consume cannabis at least ten times a year. In addition, around 630,000 citizens consume cannabis at least 60 times a year. So, the trend still remains positive for Germany.