The thought of having health insurance cover psychedelic treatments sounds pretty out there. But the idea was floated at a recent conference – and for good reason. There are now clinical trials on psilocybin and MDMA with very promising early-stage results. Given at low doses, these hallucinogenic substances are solving the most difficult to treat and expensive mental health conditions such as PTSD and severe forms of depression. U.S. insurance companies already spend a fortune on expensive antidepressants that don’t necessarily show efficacy.
The fact that psychedelic-assisted therapy is being researched as a viable alternative to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors is a significant step into the mainstream. Getting insurers on board once regulators approve these potentially groundbreaking treatments would make them more cost-effective and also be a boon to startups in the psychedelic field. MDMA, which used to be known as Ecstasy when it was mainly for recreational use, is one of the most researched psychedelic treatments thanks to a nonprofit organization called MAPS and could become the first psychedelic drug to be commercialized if the FDA greenlights this treatment.
As a certified coach in the psychedelics field, I’m encouraged to see all of this data. It’s also worth noting that employers may play an equally pivotal role in expanding access to affordable psychedelic-assisted therapy. For example, companies that self-insure their health benefit plans could decide to cover these treatments for employees and their families. In fact, a hemp-products firm is already offering ketamine psychotherapy as a mental health benefit to its 20 employees. The bottom line for business is that more efficacious mental health treatments will produce better clinical outcomes that, in turn, reduce costs associated with absenteeism, presenteeism, overall wellbeing, productivity and even morale.