Manulife Financial And Shoppers Drug Mart Offer Enhanced Medical Marijuana Coverage

Insurance company Manulife Financial Corp.(TSX: MFC) and retail chain Shoppers Drug Mart have joined forces to offer Canadians enhanced medical marijuana coverage.

Manulife said in a news release that people who have been approved for medical marijuana insurance coverage will be able to consult with Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists at an Ontario-based patient care centre about different strains of medical marijuana and the different ways to take the drug. Manulife customers will then be able to choose treatment that is covered under their Manulife plan and receive ongoing case management.

The new program will be available as an option for participating group and individual health insurance plans beginning this fall. Manulife, which was already offering medical cannabis coverage to clients on a selective basis, said more details of the program with Shoppers will become available once the program starts.

Manulife is the latest insurer to offer an evolving medical marijuana insurance coverage as cannabis becomes fully legal across Canada. Rival Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF) said in February that it was adding medical marijuana coverage as an option for its group benefits plans. And Great-West Life Assurance Co. (TSX: GWO) has said it plans to expand its medical marijuana coverage options in its group plans later this year.

Marijuana coverage has generally been limited to select conditions. For example, Sun Life limits coverage to conditions and symptoms associated with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, HIV-AIDS and palliative care.

There were more than 235,000 registered medical marijuana patients across Canada as of the end of September 2017 — the most recent date from Health Canada shows.