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Medical necessity

Medical necessity is a United States legal doctrine, related to activities which may be justified as reasonable, necessary, and/or appropriate, based on evidence-based clinical standards of care. Other countries may have medical doctrines or legal rules covering broadly similar grounds. The term clinical medical necessity is also used.

Additional recommended knowledge


Implementations of the 'medical necessity' doctrine

USA (Medicare)

Medicare uses medical necessity as a way to determine if they should pay for goods or services. They consider medical necessity to include that which is reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness, injury, or to improve the function of a malformed body member.

Medicare has a number of policies, including National Coverage Determinations (NCDs) and Local Medical Review Policy (LMRP) (also known as Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs)), which line out what is and is not covered. In a small number of cases, Medicare may even determine if a method of treating a patient should be covered on a case-by-case basis. Even if a service is accepted as reasonable and necessary, coverage may be limited if the service is provided more frequently than allowed under standard policies or standards of care. Often a Letter of Medical Necessity has to be written to justify the need for the equipment.

Specific instances

Medical use of marijuana

Main article: Medical marijuana

The use of cannabis (also known as marijuana) for medical purposes is a notable 'medical necessity' case. Cannabis is a plant whose active ingredients are widely reported by sufferers to be effective in extreme pain control for various serious conditions where medical drugs have had little or no effect; however as a scheduled drug it is illegal under the federal Controlled Substance Act and is heavily targeted by anti-drugs campaigners. In this case the doctrine of medical necessity would be used by a sufferer, if charged with use or growing of illegal narcotics.

In several medical marijuana cases, the patients' physician has been willing to state to the court that the patient's condition requires this medicine and thus that the Court should not interfere. However, the Supreme Court of United States has outrightly rejected this defense in the landmark case United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, in which the Court ruled that there was no medical necessity exception to drug laws, and federal government is free to raid, arrest, prosecute, and imprison patients who are using medical marijuana no matter if the medicine is crucially necessary to them. On the other hand, in Gonzales v. Raich, the court told a sufferer in extreme pain that they could not rely on state law allowing medical use, but if arrested they could seek to use medical necessity as a defence.

In the state of Maryland, a bill signed by former governor Robert Ehrlich became law in 2003 permitting patients to use medical necessity defense to marijuana possession in the state. The maximum penalty for these users cannot exceed $100. However, this law does not prevent federal prosecution of patients, as the federal law does not recognize medical necessity. [1]

See also

  • Certificate of medical necessity (CMN)
  • Advance beneficiary notice (ABN)
  • Advanced Determination of Medicare Coverage (ADMC)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Medical_necessity". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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