Although marijuana is now being openly sold in Thailand, health insurance coverage for weed smokers is still debatable.
If you follow my blog here on Ajarn.com, you’ll know that I recently talked about health insurance companies rewarding healthy behaviors and penalizing unhealthy ones, and that they expect smokers to pay higher premiums for this reason. But while this is certainly the case for tobacco users in the Kingdom, weed is less frequently discussed. In fact, the status of marijuana is not even clear and it’s a subject that leaves many foreign tourists and expats confused.
Whether you regularly smoke weed, eat the occasional weed brownie, or rely on medical marijuana, I’ll take a closer look at whether you can get health insurance in today’s blog post.
Thailand’s rules and regulations on marijuana use
It’s important to note that laws on pot use naturally affect how health insurers view its usage, which is why we’ll spend a moment discussing the rules and regulations surrounding marijuana use in Thailand. The short answer is that the country made significant changes to its cannabis laws and became the first country in Asia to decriminalize marijuana starting June 9th, 2022.
However, the long answer is that it’s complicated. Technically speaking, marijuana products in Thailand must contain low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the main hallucinogenic compound in marijuana. When it comes to the recreational use of marijuana, including smoking weed in public, this is still not legal. Yet, on the streets of Thailand, this rule is being increasingly flouted.
Several health insurers abroad haven’t penalized marijuana users
As the decriminalization of marijuana use in Thailand has been quite recent, let’s take a look at examples from Canada and the US:
In Canada, where cannabis has been legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes since 2018, several insurers in the country have been known not to penalize policyholders who occasionally use weed. In part, this is because there’s growing scientific evidence on marijuana’s benefits and the fact that it’s seen as relatively safer than tobacco.
Similarly, across the border, a survey of major US health insurance providers in 2015 found that one-third of them considered weed users as non-smokers. This isn’t surprising considering that the stance on marijuana has evolved over the years, and even led to the federal government legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing pot in 2017.
This is good news for pot users around the world. Depending on where you live and the laws on marijuana, asking your insurer to review your policy might be possible. Those who were once asked to pay higher premiums like tobacco users and/or smokers could potentially be considered for non-smoker premiums.
Marijuana use is a gray area
That being said, you shouldn’t expect complete freedom. While a number of insurers may extend non-smoker premiums to the occasional weed smoker, you should bear in mind that the meaning of “occasion” is subjective and can vary between insurance providers. In addition, some insurers may also have different policies for medical and recreational users of marijuana.
Applying for health insurance as a marijuana user
When you apply for health insurance, you’ll be asked whether you use any recreational or legal substances, including marijuana. This may even extend to details regarding the quantity and frequency of usage. Health insurers have the right to inquire and you’ll be expected to disclose all information truthfully.
While you may prefer not to disclose your drug usage, remember that it’s never a good idea to lie or withhold information on an insurance application form. If you were caught lying about your substance use (i.e. through urine or blood samples), insurers can deny a claim or even terminate your policy on the grounds of nondisclosure or even insurance fraud.
Many expats I’ve met unknowingly secured a health insurance policy, only to be disappointed later on because they hadn’t fully understood what was expected of them or the terms & conditions of their policy. This is why I recommend working with a reputable and impartial brokerage.
To learn more about your options, get empowered, and receive support, you’re welcome to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact my team at Pacific Prime Thailand.