Nursing Moms Rejoice! As Of January 1st, That Expensive Breast Pump Is Free!

breast pumpWe all knew that the Affordable Care Act was going to save families plenty of money. Not just would it cover millions of Americans without health insurance, or keep kids with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage, but the law does an amazing job of helping women pay for important reproductive health care. And it goes one step further. It demands that health insurance cover equipment and consultations necessary to help mothers care for their young children.

As of January 1st, the provision of the ACA that demanded insurance cover breast pumps, breastfeeding supplies, and lactation support has gone into effect. That means that mothers everywhere can get these pricey goods covered by their insurance with no deductible, no out-of-pocket expense.

When I had my daughter, one of the first expensive purchases I made was a high-quality breast pump. I needed to get back to work quickly after giving birth and the only way I could do so was to pump during my breaks. So I went to my local Babies R Us and I shelled out for a Medela pump, including the hands-free bra contraption so that I could continue to work from the back closet where I pumped.

That whole set-up, with the pump and the bra and the milk containers and the sterilizers, it cost me more than $300. It was a lot of money for a new single mom to pay, and I didn’t take the purchase lightly. But feeding my baby breast milk was important to me. I considered it an investment. And I’m happy to know that more women will get the opportunity to make that choice.

There are still some loopholes that mothers will need to navigate. Yummy Mummy, a breastfeeding specialty store in New York City, reminds us that insurances only have to cover pumps and supplies that come from a Durable Medical Equipment provider. Your local Babies R Us wouldn’t qualify as such. So moms will need to be careful where they purchase the equipment from if they want it to be covered.

Red tape aside, the new rules could do more to help working mothers breastfeed than most lactivist activities of the past few years. We’re all aware of how beneficial breastfeeding can be. It’s the real world, extenuating circumstances that keep many moms from nursing. Needing to get back to work is a huge barrier for many women. The availability of breast pumps can go a long way into helping these new moms out.

(Photo: Draw/Shutterstock)

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  • eamommy

    Lactating mother rejoice! This is great news.

    BUT, you do realize that nothing provided by insurance companies or the ACA is free, right? Free? Really? This title really annoys me. Do you think the Medela corporation is growing pumps on trees?

    • bumbler

      I think it’s an appropriate title. Just like if I said “I’m sick of people over reacting about common, casual expressions”, it doesn’t mean to imply that I’m actually barfing and running a fever about it over here ;)

    • LindsayCross

      Bumbler… can we be friends? I’d like to be friends.

    • Kat

      No, I don’t think they’re growing them on trees. I think they’re paid for by my ever-growing monthly insurance premium, and I’ll be damned if I let stingy conservatives like you make me feel guilty for taking advantage of it.

      That being said, nothing is free. But I’m happy to pay a bit more in taxes in order to have affordable care, ESPECIALLY for babies and new mothers. How does it feel to be so selfish?

    • Eamommy

      Presumptuous much? I’m not a conservative. I’m a liberal whose tired of people, particularly journalists, who don’t understand basic economics. I’m a new mother whose own crummy private health insurance provided no support for lactation supplies, a taxpayer, a public school teacher, and a person who donates to several charities. It feels great to be so selfish. You needn’t be ignorant to have compassion.

  • msenesac

    One of the reasons I stopped pumping was because my pump sucked and my husband and I couldn’t afford a nicer one. This will be really helpful for when baby #2 comes along!

  • leia lynn

    I’m due in March, so how would i go about getting a pump thats covered??

  • MommyinMA

    This article is misleading. First, typically pumps are only covered by insurance for medical reasons, for example to stimulate milk production if the mother is having supply issues. So, it’s unlikely that you just get a free pump to use for work. Second, these pumps are being paid for by spreading the cost around on everyone’s premiums. So now people without kids and people that don’t need pumps are subsidizing nursing mothers.

    • Derpina

      That’s how insurance works, everyone ends up paying into a large pool of money that gets spread around for the care of others. People who lead active, healthy lives are also paying for the neglectful people who smoke and eat high fat foods all their lives and are now in poor health.

  • Jan

    I recently had a baby so I called my insurance and yes, they will pay for a breast pump but only a manual one. They are definitely not covering the $300 double pumps. So it’s better than nothing but not what I really need.

  • iamwhoiam

    Being a Mom with a child with a preexisting condition… Let me explain how he can no longer be “denied coverage”. When a child has a preexisting condition the insurance agencies now have “the right” to charge up to EIGHT TIMES the normal monthly premium. Yeah, thanks for that. IT’S A JOKE!!

  • ellsie22

    Just to stir the pot, what about people who are unable to breastfeed? Should health insurance cover their formula?

    • klf

      There is a program called, WIC, women, infants, and children for this.

    • Jennifer18

      Noone is unable. They just give up when it gets hard.

  • officemanager

    I manage a small company and am in charge of the insurance. I received a letter a couple of weeks ago from BCBS and it said that manual breast pumps would be provided at no cost and there was a specific company to contact to order one from. Nice, yes. But unfortunately not a good electric one.

  • JennZaa

    I called my insurance company about this as well and in addition to only covering the manual breastpumps, they also are not required to cover them until our policy renews, which is not until mid-2013, not Jan 1st as the article implies. This is well after I plan on returning to work so I will have to buy my own.

  • Lauren Caswell

    Please be aware that your employer can OPT OUT of this coverage…..I work for a hospital/medical group and just became aware that sadly they did. I am 6wks pp using a horrible electric pump and wish I could get one…..

  • LasColinas2110

    Sometimes, we as women are our worse enemies. The debate and bogus arguments against health insurers covering breast pumps for new moms is ridiculous.

    The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and its provisions regarding birth control and breastfeeding force insurers to recognize the needs of women as important; Sadly, we dismiss it as unnecessary. Maybe it’s just our way as women of continuing to be martyrs in everything. “No worries, Mom can go without! No worries, Mom’s needs can wait. No worries, I’ll figure it out on my own.” Maybe it’s a form of hazing or our mean-girls complex rearing its head. Nonetheless, we can now add opinions on breast pump coverage as another divisive issue for women and our bodies. Funny, men rarely say such things and are rarely forced to do so when it comes to their health care. Women, please stop seeing yourself as a second class as citizen and our needs as substandard or unworthy.

    Some opponents even have the audacity to argue that they are now “subsidizing” nursing and breast feeding Moms. Some even offer a lame guilt trip that “now my premiums will go up because you want your expensive pumps.” Such arguments are ignorant and void of truth. Let me be clear. First, we all pay insurance premiums; therefore, there is no “subsidizing.” It’s a pool that we ALL pay into for various types of coverage (or as I call it, your various “personal problems.”). Therefore, you are no more subsidizing my conditions, as I am subsidizing yours. As the wise Justice Ginsberg reminded the sharp Justice Alito during the Supreme Court proceedings for Obamacare- “If you’re going to have insurance, that’s how insurance works.”

    Further, premiums go up every year. Recently, such increases have been substantial on a yearly basis with very little to show for it. Chiefly, it’s mainly to cover marketing cost and profit, not actual care. Breast pump coverage or not, I have a sneaky feeling my premiums will go up next year! Why? It’s because I can’t think of a year when they did not go up in price in a new year. I will not be bullied and shamed by these arguments.

    Nonetheless for persons that bemoan new moms for choosing to receive pumps and supplies now covered by insurers, I say “how dare you question the needs of new Moms seeking to provide the best food available for infants.” How dare you bemoan working mothers needing supplies to pump at work? How dare you bemoan stay-at-home Moms that want to store milk? Whether they need to get out the house for a while, coverage by a sitter, or simply need a break from nursing and a night off from night-time feedings, it’s all justifiable, reasonable, and medically necessary. It’s medically necessary for both mom and baby, for both mental and physical health.

    Why not us? Why not cover something that we know is better for our kids and helps us to continue pumping while at work, etc. It’s actually a win for insurance companies. We could do the cost-benefit analysis– less ear ache visits to pediatricians, less allergies, etc. We know the science. Now, we’ve implement what we know. Coverage for pumps supports what we already know.

    Now, for those that still argue it’s not medically necessary and “Why should I have to pay for this?” or “When I was pregnant, I just did X, Y, and Z.”, I’d like to remind you all of LOTS of things that are covered that one could argue is a waste, not medically necessary, etc. See the following as food for thought:

    1. Insurance commonly covers Viagra for men. Why, so they can still feel like a man while getting it up for all of ten seconds? To torment their 60 year old wives? To cheat on wives with mistress so he can “still feel like a man while getting it up for all of ten seconds.” Your schlong doesn’t work. Get over it. Maybe you should just try ginseng.
    2. Insurance commonly covers smokers via their self-induced alignment like COPD, CHF, and sadly lung cancer. Some could argue- you smoked, now you die. Further, nobody made you start, so pay for your own cessation medication.
    3. Insurance commonly covers diabetes medicine. Why should we all have to subsidize unhealthy eaters and self-inflected problems? Sure, there are other reasons for diabetes but let’s sit and throw stones at these people. Nobody told you to eat poorly your whole life. Maybe we don’t care that you couldn’t afford fresh fruits and vegetables.
    4. Insurance commonly covers blood pressure medicine. Why, because people refuse to stop eating salt? Solution, stop eating salt. No more coverage for you.
    5. Insurance commonly covers retinol and steroids to clear blemishes and acne? Why do you deserve a polished look? My response could be “just deal with the fact that you have bad skin and aren’t very pretty.”
    6. Insurance commonly covers medication for a toe fungus and those hard brittle gray nails. Will it kill you? Nope. Is it just ugly? Yes. Nix it off or don’t wear sandals. Problem solved.
    7. Insurance commonly covers braces, as one poster reminded us. Why do your kids need to have perfectly straight teeth? Buck toothed people eat fine. Show me the paperwork from your Family Medicine doctor that says your kid has a problem eating and/or speaking. My kids have straight teeth. Why should I pay for this for you? Just face it; your kids are inferior to mine and have crooked teeth. Heaven forbid braces be for cosmetic purposes, ie. You think your kid deserves a nice smile and shouldn’t be teased at school. Tell them to suck it up and “smile with their eyes.”
    8. Insurance is starting to cover bariatric procedures like gastric bypass and the Lap-Band ® Seriously, who made you go to McDonald’s instead of the gym? Why should we cover a surgery that commonly cost over $10,000 because you are lazy and choose to be fat and now have health complications from it? YOU save the money to save YOUR life.

    Maybe my idea of medically necessary is not the same as yours. But seriously, Viagra ® “yes” but not a breast pump? We need to get our priorities straight.

    Ultimately, it’s a very slippery slope. So my question is “So, where do you draw the line?” and how did breast pumps for women get on the wrong side in your opinion.

    Why are our needs optional? It’s the idea that women don’t deserve to be made “whole” or taken seriously in our conditions. Unfortunately, we as women have often bought into this idea. I think enough is enough. Go call for your pumps!

    • Kirsty

      ^This. Perfect

  • Heather Elliott

    npr did an interesting story about this.. when you cover something under ins especially with no copays you drive the cost of it way up. when you drive the cost of something up there’s unintended consequences (like rising premiums and hurting people with no ins).

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  • klf

    This was one aspect of the new healthcare law that I was especially excited about, as my new fiancé and I were planning a family in the next 5 years. That is, until we received military orders forcing me to decide between my career and living in the same country with my family. I chose family, however, one consequence is that I lost my insurance, and now have military Tricare. Tricare does not have to offer the same coverage as the healthcare law, because it is a benefit-not insurance. This means no breast pumps, unless you or your premature infant is admitted to the hospital., and only while one if you is in the hospital will Tricare cover the use of a breast pump. <–Simply families face a double standard; something I have yet to see discussed in the media.

  • Fctwo Willie

    Very misleading. Its neither free, nor are you guarenteed a nice $300 pump. In fact if you signed up under the government market place, your probably getting a maunual pump. I have yet to see any savings from obamacare so its nice that the delusional writer is so optimistic but with both my monthly premium and my deductible, the affordable care act has been anything but affordable. The pump we got from our insurance sure doesnt justify the 53.21/month rise in premiums.

  • Laura

    My insurance is through my husband who works for the State Department of Corrections in PA. They are grandfathered in and don’t HAVE to cover breastfeeding pumps for working moms and choose not to do so!!! So very frustrating!! I’ve just returned to work and am pumping 5 times a day! I was not a successful breastfeeder 11 years ago and have been able to do it this time! I have my 11 year old pump but it’s seen better days!

    Can’t believe that a large employer like a state program has chosen to take advantage of the loophole. Interestingly enough, in order to qualify for a premium reduction, we have to participate in a “Get Healthy” prevention program…what better prevention is there for baby than to breastfeed if you can!

  • leahdawn

    Just based on comments so far, I have to, just one more time, PRAISE CANADA.
    No, our pumps aren’t covered, but there is so much less bitching about who’s paying for what.
    The government (i.e. our taxes) cover basic things that keep you alive – like emergency visits, basic doctor checkups and screenings, etc.
    Your employer coverage (if you have it, which if you work full-time you usually do) covers things that keep you comfortable – like glasses, dentistry, podiatry, etc.
    It is just so much less complicated than the rigmarole yous guys have going on. You have my condolences, and if you ever throw up your hands in disgust, we love immigrants!
    Because seriously, the solution to many of life’s problems is to just move to Canada.

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