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Health Insurance Will Cover Breast Pump Rentals; Should It?

In all the sound and fury (and not a little celebration) that the new Affordable Care Act will cover birth control without a copay, some other juicy details got lost.

Best news for new moms: your health insurance will be required to provide coverage for a breast pump. Sweet! Now you can pump your milk without shelling out hundreds of dollars for a pump, or paying exhorbitant fees to rent one.

This is a good thing, right? Maybe. While most of the mommy blogs were singing the praises of the new legislation, Slate’s Rachel Larimore was none too pleased.

Larimore describes her response as “the full Bachmann” and it makes as much sense as that fine lady’s rants usually do. She leaps from health insurance coverage for breast pumps to insurance coverage for Pottery Barn cribs in a single illogical bound:

I can’t get behind requiring a private insurer to provide a device that is rarely medically necessary, to engage in a practice that has dubious claims of health benefits. It’s not just the creeping nanny-state-ism, though that’s admittedly part of it. It’s that it opens the door for so much else. If you can make the case for breast pumps, why not car seats? I mean, by law, every kid needs a car seat. Why not require insurers to buy everyone a Britax? And you can’t just let them sleep on the floor. How about making Aetna send you a voucher for a crib from Pottery Barn?

Um, right. Larimore goes on to debate with herself about whether insurance companies are more likely to raise premiums or cut services to handle the huge cost of this new benefit. My guess: neither. A lot of insurance companies already cover breast pumps. Mine does. I live in a freaky liberal state with mandatory health insurance and all kinds of required coverages, and I haven’t seen a big increase in my health premiums since our state’s version of the new national health plan went into effect.

What I have seen is my previously uninsured friends getting access to state-subsidized plans that provide the same kinds of benefits I take for granted with my private university insurance plan. I saw one friend in particular give birth to a seriously ill baby who was rushed to NICU and had to spend the first weeks of her life there. This woman had no health insurance before Commonwealth Care. Now, her insurance covered everything her daughter needed for those first frightening weeks. Including a hospital-grade breast pump so she could establish a milk supply and give her baby the desperately needed immune boost breast milk delivers.

I don’t think breast pump rentals will be the downfall of the health care system. They’ll be a boon to new moms who have to go back to work, and potentially life-saving for families with high-risk babies who need the benefits of breast milk but can’t nurse, like very premature infants.

What do you think? Are you excited about being able to leave pumped milk with the nanny, or concerned about the takeover of the nanny state?

Photo: kguardiola77

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