Most insurance providers will only accept medicinal cannabis
as a medical expense if it is used to help with specific, predeter-mined
health conditions. This determination does not fall on the
employer, but on the insurer, who will use their prior authoriza-tion
process to decide eligibility. This allows the insurer to confirm
that the individual has tried other appropriate treatments that
have failed. The insurer will confirm that there is medical evidence,
provided through a doctor’s recommendation, that the medicinal
cannabis will be beneficial for the conditions that they are allow-ing
to be covered.
The conditions covered vary depending on the insurance pro-vider,
but they commonly include multiple sclerosis, cancers or
patients requiring palliative care. Some plans also include treat-ment
for chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis and HIV/AIDS.
Medical research is relatively new when it comes to evidence-based
information on the effects of medicinal cannabis as a
treatment option for issues such as chronic illness and pain. As
a result of this research gap, the number of conditions currently
covered by insurance providers is limited. Outlining the prede-termined
conditions allows insurance providers to limit their
exposure on the relatively unknown usage implications.
This has contributed to the low demand for medicinal canna-bis.
The legalization in Canada and change in stigma around the
globe will likely increase the number of studies on the effective-ness
of medicinal cannabis. This will provide greater insight into
the merit of utilizing medicinal cannabis as a treatment option and
could cause an increase in the demand.
Different conditions that can be effectively treated by medici-nal
cannabis require varying prescribed amounts for usage. Each
employee who has been prescribed medicinal cannabis is unique
and their prescribed usage amounts will differ. Research sug-gests
that average daily use of prescribed cannabis is one gram,
which is how many of the insurance companies base their cover-age.
Typically, this will likely leave many plan members with needs
that exceed the caps put on coverage amounts for medically pre-scribed
WHICH TYPE OF COVERAGE IS BEST FOR
There is a range of options that allow companies to add medicinal
cannabis coverage to employee benefits plans. While not all insur-ance
companies are ready to offer this type of coverage, trends in
the industry show that many providers are incorporating medic-inal
cannabis coverage as a plan add-on. Insurance companies are
offering this coverage to employers in two distinct ways: Through
health spending accounts and as an expense under medical ser-vices
Medicinal cannabis currently does not have a Drug Identification
Number, which means insurance providers categorize it under
medical services and equipment and not under prescription drug
benefits. Under this category, insurance providers offer coverage
with various yearly maximums, ranging from $1,500 to upward
of $6,000 per covered employee. Recently, GroupHEALTH
The Canadian Payroll Association
Elects Board Chair
The Board of Directors of the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) is pleased to announce the election of Sandra
Morrison, CPM, CPHR, SHRM-SCP, as its 2018-2019 Chair. In her role, Ms. Morrison will champion the
Association’s core purpose of payroll compliance through education and advocacy, and its strategic priority to gain
influence in the business, government and academic communities.
Ms. Morrison has over 20 years of payroll, benefits, pension and human resources experience. Most recently, she held the role of Director, HR,
Total Rewards & North American Payroll at Canfor Corporation in Vancouver where she oversaw payroll, human resources and total rewards for
7,500 employees worldwide. She previously held positions as Director of HR for Retirement Concepts, as Senior Manager of HR, Compensation &
Benefits for the City of Coquitlam, and as Vice President, HR & Payroll for Wesbild Holdings.
She has served as a key volunteer and contributor to the Association for the past 12 years, on several task forces including those for Social
Insurance Number Guidelines and HR Fundamentals, and worked on various committees reviewing certification course materials. She has been
an instructor of the CPA’s certification courses at Douglas College for the past 14 years and for the CPA’s Professional Development Seminars for
the past 8 years, served as Co-Chair of the CPA’s 2013 Vancouver Conference Committee, joined the Board of Directors in 2012, and the Executive
Committee in 2016.
The CPA congratulates Ms. Morrison on her appointment.
As the national association representing employers’ payroll needs since 1978, the CPA influences more than 500,000 payrolls annually, provides
value to more than 41,000 payroll practitioners, and works with federal, provincial and territorial governments to ensure payroll legislation,
regulations and administration are efficient and effective for all stakeholders.
Payroll Compliance Through Education and Advocacy payroll.ca | paie.ca
58 ❚ NOVEMBER 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL