Could the Legalization of Medical Marijuana Save Medicare $470 Million Annually?
By the year 2050, approximately 89 million Americans will be over the age of 65; twice the number of Americans who were a part of this demographic in 2010. As the population ages, more and more individuals will require medical care, which could cause the nation’s healthcare expenses to skyrocket.
Two researchers at the University of Georgia may have found a controversial solution that will keep costs down in order to allow more Americans to continue to enjoy the benefits of Medicare.
Earlier this month, Ashley and David Bradford published a report that examined a possible correlation between medical marijuana prescription use and Medicare prescription use under Part D. The research shows that in states where medical marijuana is legal, prescription drug use under Medicare for ailments that can be treated by marijuana was significantly lower.
Medical marijuana is typically used to treat nausea, seizures, sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression. Today, one in seven baby boomers is currently being treated for depression, though treatment methods vary.
What this indicates is that a major portion of individuals being treated with prescription drugs could actually benefit from medical marijuana. The Bradfords argue that if medical marijuana was legal across the nation, this could mean significantly cutting Medicare health insurance companies’ prescription drug expenditures.
The authors of the study actually calculated that a nationwide legalization of medical marijuana would save about $470 million annually under Medicare Part D. Of course, the DEA recently stated that they have no intention of loosening their restrictions on marijuana due to its high risk of abuse.
Medicare has helped many seniors over the years. In 2013, 39.7 million Americans were enrolled in a Medicare plan and an estimated 37 million beneficiaries received free preventive healthcare services, including flu shots and screenings for various chronic diseases. In 2015, the number of beneficiaries rose to 55.7 million. Officials predict that by the year 2030, as many as 81 million people will be enrolled.
With so many people benefiting from Medicare, and many of those people over the age of 65, the health insurance companies’ prescription drug expenditures could reach astronomical levels. According to Ashley and David Bradford, the nation’s trend of legalizing medical marijuana state by state could save a significant amount of money.