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Public German health insurers are covering the cost of medical marijuana, often for patients who have exhausted other types of standard treatment.

Some of Germany's major health insurance providers published new figures that detail the number of claims for reimbursement of medical cannabis after the German daily newspaper Rheinische Post requested the data.  According to insurers General Local Health Insurance Fund (AOK), Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) and Barmer Ersatzkasse, about 13,000 patients have so far received reimbursement for herbal cannabis products, while claims for reimbursement have been rejected for about 7,000 patients.

Domestic production to regulate pricing

The number of issued private prescriptions, in which patients have to pay for their own medicine, should be significantly higher, just as it was during the first three months after the law's March 2017 establishment, but those numbers have not been published yet.

In cases where a doctor supplies a so-called private prescription, patients must pay for their medicine out of pocket. The insurance company is not involved in this process, but an insurance prescription guarantees reimbursement. Doctors won't supply an insurance prescription without the provider's permission, applied for in advance. An independent review panel of doctors oversees insurance requests for reimbursement of special therapies or medical aid.

As a result, the number of private prescriptions issued may be significantly higher than those which reimburse for the cost of 25 euros per gram. Patients who apply for reimbursement but are rejected may have to absorb the costs. Those patients may be underrepresented in the total number of German medical marijuana patients. Doctors and patients hope that with the domestic production planned for 2019, prices will fall as well.