Great-West Life expands optional medical cannabis coverage


  • Great-West Life expands optional medical cannabis coverage and enters into an agreement with Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. for Medical Cannabis Coaching Program
  • More than 300,000 Canadians are choosing cannabis for medical treatment
  • Eligible medical cannabis claims can also be submitted at the point of sale for immediate reimbursement

Winnipeg, MB (Mar. 1, 2019) – With more than 300,000 Canadians choosing cannabis for medical treatment[1] and that number only expected to grow, Great-West Life is pleased to announce it has expanded its coverage of medical cannabis, including a new agreement with Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. to deliver its Medical Cannabis Coaching Program.

“We’ve expanded our optional medical cannabis coverage to our Pay-Direct Drug plans which represent the vast majority of all of our drug plans, to help the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians,” says Bobby Currie, Pharmacist and Manager of Drug Strategy for Great-West Life, noting the insurer has offered medical cannabis coverage through healthcare spending accounts since 2009.

“Participating plan sponsors will now be better able to support their plan members who are prescribed medical cannabis for conditions relating to multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV or AIDS, or symptoms related to palliative care, and their plan members will be directed to Shoppers Drug Mart Inc.’s Medical Cannabis Coaching Program, delivered through its Ontario-based call centre, to help them navigate strain selection and administration,” she adds.

Since medical cannabis is not available in retail pharmacies, Currie says the program will coordinate delivery to the plan member’s home and offer case management support via check-ins, counselling, education and support by phone and e-mail.

The expansion also allows for eligible plan members in Ontario to have their claim submitted by the Medical Cannabis Coaching Program using their Pay-Direct Drug cards.

“By processing claims through a Pay-Direct Drug card, we can offer our plan members the convenience of immediate reimbursement and the most advanced claim adjudication standards in the industry,” Currie says.

Great-West Life has set rigorous and comprehensive access controls to help ensure plans remain sustainable, including pre-determined conditions, a range of annual maximums capped at $5,000, coverage criteria and eligibility guidelines to help ensure appropriate use.

Currie adds that while reimbursement at the point of sale is currently available in Ontario only, other provinces and territories are expected to soon follow.


1. Government of Canada Market Data.

About The Great-West Life Assurance Company

Great-West Life is a leading Canadian insurer, focused on improving the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians. For more than 125 years, our customers across Canada have trusted us to provide for their financial security needs and deliver on the promises we have made. Together with our subsidiaries London Life and Canada Life, we serve the financial security needs of 13 million people across Canada. To learn more, visit

Source: The Great-West Life Assurance Company

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