States with medical marijuana laws experience stable reductions in annual premiums over time
New research issued in the International Journal of Drug Policy has revealed an unexpected yet advantageous connection between legal medical marijuana and a significant reduction in health insurance costs. This study, covering ten years and utilizing private health insurance information from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, highlights the favorable effect of medical cannabis laws on insurance premiums.
Stable premium reductions over the years
Over time, states that have decriminalized and allowed the use of medical marijuana have experienced significant and consistent decreases in annual insurance premiums, according to a recent study. Although the initial reduction was modest, the data shows that after seven years of implementation, annual premiums decreased by $1,663 compared to states that still outlawed cannabis. This downward trend remained steady in the following years, with reductions of $1,542 after eight years and $1,626 after nine years. Therefore, the study emphasizes the long-term nature of these premium savings.
Contradicting concerns and speculative assumptions
This research counters initial concerns about the legalization of medical cannabis leading to higher healthcare costs and increased insurance premiums. The study's authors emphasize that the decrease in premiums benefits both users and non-users of cannabis, as insurance pooling and community rating are involved. This evidence indicates that the advantages to public health from medical cannabis legalization go beyond just healthcare usage and impact the insurance industry as a whole.
Additional medical marijuana insights and implications
The study focused on individual health plans, excluding employer-sponsored insurance and Medicaid. It isolated the effects of medical cannabis legalization, excluding states where adult-use cannabis was legal. The research identified nuances based on the timing of state adoption of medical cannabis laws. Early-adopting states saw consistent declines in premiums, whereas mid-adopting states saw a diminishing impact on premiums after the third year following enactment.
The implications of this study add to a growing body of research highlighting the potential positive outcomes associated with ending cannabis prohibition. Beyond the notable decrease in health insurance premiums, medical cannabis legalization has been linked to reduced rates of prescribed opioids, suggesting a possible alternative for pain management.