We 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.