By: Jeff Caldwell
Medical marijuana laws saved Medicare $165.2 million according to the University of Georgia study published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs. The research compiles the amount of prescriptions filled in the Medicare Part D program in the 17 states plus the District of Columbia with legalized medicinal marijuana through 2013 compared to the states that did not have medical marijuana.
Between 2010-2013, the study shows prescription fills for chronic pain, nausea, seizures, and anxiety saw the biggest decreases. University of Georgia released the information of their three-year study in light of a pharmaceutical company, GW Pharmaceuticals, reporting in late June of positive Phase 3 Trial results of a marijuana compound successfully treating seizures.
Since cannabis is not covered under insurance and doctors cannot prescribe marijuana, citizens must pay out-of-pocket when buying medical marijuana. Some say the money not spent from Medicare prescriptions was spent in the undocumented purchases of medical marijuana.
Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, argues marijuana is less expensive than prescription drugs. He states, “There’s a limit to how high a price cannabis can be sold at as a medicine.”
Dr. David Bradford, School of Public & International Affairs at The University of Georgia, says the price of cannabis will go down as medical marijuana expands on a national scale.
If the DEA schedules marijuana to a Schedule II drug, cannabis will on the same level as morphine and oxycodone. The rescheduling will allow for doctors to prescribe and more likely that insurance companies to cover medical marijuana.
Furthermore, a study shows that states with medical marijuana have a 25 percent lower death rate from opioid overdoses than the states without medical marijuana. This also cuts down on Medicare costs.
Check out more of what Dr. Bradford thinks about University of Georgia’s findings!