Costs, Co-pays and Cannabis

Cannabiz Consumer Group’s (C2G) recently released survey, CannaUse™ provides insights into legal medicinal cannabis consumers.

Cost is Key

C2G’s CannaUse™ study examined medicinal cannabis use among more than 55,000 respondents. Findings conclude that one of the major considerations in using cannabis for medicinal purposes is not just the level of relief it may provide but also the cost among treatment options for more chronic ailments.

Medicinal cannabis users less likely to have employer based health insurance, and more likely to perceive out of pocket healthcare costs as high. 

  • Medicinal patients are 26% less likely than the overall population to have health insurance from a current or former employer or trade union.
  • This means that they are also more likely to be paying for insurance out of their own pocket.  Even so, they are slightly more likely to currently be insured than the population as a whole, indicating that medicinal cannabis is likely to be a choice made on efficacy as well as cost.
  • Medicinal cannabis patients are approximately three times more likely than the overall population to be on Medicaid. This is interesting considering that Medicaid patients have low incomes and access to low-copay or free prescription medications.
  • Medicinal cannabis patients are 20% more likely than the population at perceive that their out-of-pocket and co-pays are “somewhat” or “very expensive.”

Health insurance does not cover medicinal marijuana, even when prescribed by a physician, used to treat a chronic condition or for end-of-life care. Thus, medicinal cannabis users must be willing to pay for it out of pocket, and frequently must seek out physicians or others who are advocates in order to obtain a prescription.

Health Insurance and Out of Pocket Costs
Medicinal Marijuana Users vs. Overall Respondent Base

Obtain insurance through … All
Index Relative to Total
Current or former employer or union 52% 38% 74
Directly from an insurance company or health marketplace (e.g., ObamaCare) 8% 9% 120
Medicare WITH Part D (prescription drug plan) 12% 14% 116
Medicare WITHOUT Part D (Prescription Drug Plan) 5% 3% 65
Medicare Advantage Plan (Private Medicare Plan) 5% 6% 109
Medicaid or other public health insurance with eligibility requirement 6% 18% 286
Veteran’s Administration 2% 3% 163
Have TRICARE or other military health care 3% Neg. 19
Indian Health Services Neg. Neg. 244
Use any other type of health insurance or health coverage plan 3% 4% 139
Are uninsured 5% 4% 86
Perceive out of pocket costs as … All
Index Relative to Total
Very Expensive 11% 14% 136
Somewhat Expensive 18% 20% 110
Slightly Expensive 22% 17% 76
Slightly Inexpensive 15% 11% 71
Somewhat Inexpensive 14% 12% 84
Very Inexpensive 21% 27% 131

Source:  CannaUse™, 2016.  All rights reserved.

About Cannabiz Consumer GroupTM

Cannabiz Consumer Group investigates the impact of marijuana legalization on consumer spending throughout the economy.

Bringing together a team with expertise in the tracking of emerging markets, data modeling, and predictive analytics, Cannabiz Consumer GroupTM focuses on specific industries that must adapt quickly to cannabis legalization.  This includes over-the-counter medications, beer, wine, spirits, tobacco, other foods and beverages, retail, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and travel / tourism. Each are subject to shifts in consumer spending as existing legal use markets continue evolve and new markets launch.

For more information about CannaUse™, contact [email protected] or visit