Breast pump makers are having a hard time keeping pumps on the shelves thanks to a small provision in President Obama’s healthcare act, which took effect Jan.1, that requires insurance companies to cover breast pumps at no cost to the patient.
The provision also covers visits to lactation consultants at no cost to the patient! (Hooray!)
“We’re getting a lot of calls from prospective mothers and new mothers,” said Bruce Frishman, president of New Hampshire Pharmacy and Medical Equipment, a supplier based in the District. “We’ve started stocking a lot more pumps that would be purchased through insurance.”
“Yummy Mummy, a New York boutique that specializes in breast pumps and accessories, is in the process of acquiring a warehouse and call center to accommodate the increased demand.”
“I have three employees taking calls right now,” owner Amanda Cole said. “We’re still in the stage where we’re figuring out how to add fax machines and phone lines. It’s all very new to us.”…
“The government does not bear the costs of providing breast pumps. Instead, insurers will have to pay for the new benefit, likely with a slight increase to the premiums they charge their members.
“Administrators of insurance plans still have questions about how to best implement the rule. No state has ever required insurance companies to cover the benefit, although Louisiana did convene a study panel on the issue in 2002, according to the National Center for State Legislatures.”
(There are lots of ins and outs on this law and how insurance companies are handling it so please read the full story on The Washington Post site if you’re a mom who may be able to take advantage of these benefits.)
The law does not specify whether insurance companies must cover certain brands or types of pumps. It only states that health plans should pay for “the costs of renting breastfeeding equipment” in conjunction with each birth.
But the rental pumps are often larger and more expensive so some insurance companies like UnitedHealthcare are offering women the option of buying a personal pump instead.
The article states that insurance companies are now recruiting lactation consultants to join their networks so they can abide by the law and cover their customers who need lactation help.
However, many lactation consultants don’t want to be covered by insurance because the payouts tend to be less than what they would normally charge.
You all know that I am huge supporter of women nursing when possible, and I am so glad this law helps women establish their breastfeeding with free (but invaluable) lactation support!
While nursing my three babies, I made many calls to Piedmont Hospital’s lactation consultant Julie Duncan. She was wonderful to have in your corner, but had Piedmont not provided her help for free I don’t think I could have afforded her help. I am glad that women won’t have to make that choice and can get assistance when they need it.
And by providing breast pumps, mothers can return to work and continue providing milk to their babies (and not have their breasts get infected if they suddenly stopped nursing).
Have you gotten your free breast pump yet? Has your insurance covered your lactation consultation? Did you know you had a right to these things? Will you use these benefits in the future?
Do you think these two items will increase the rate of breastfeeding and the percent of women who stay with it?
Are you outraged and don’t think insurance should cover lactation consultants or breast pumps?