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Health Insurance Will Cover Breast Pump Rentals; Should It?

By Sierra Black |

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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About Sierra Black


Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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4 thoughts on “Health Insurance Will Cover Breast Pump Rentals; Should It?

  1. Stacia says:

    Does it only cover rental costs, or purchasing? Or will it depend on the insurance agency?

  2. Sarah says:

    I know my insurance (the top available at my work of 3 different plans) did not cover a pump unless I had a prescription from the doctor for it. I was able to get one because my son was in the NICU for his first week, but they gave me a choice to rent it (only for the duration of when he was in the NICU) or to buy – so I opted buy – and they bought me one that cost $70. Anyone who has looked at pumps knows that if it only cost $70, it wasn’t quite the same as a hospital grade pump. It didn’t even work. Luckily my sister-in-law (a teacher, with awesome insurance) was able to lend me hers, which worked with all the pieces from the hospital (both medela, so I didn’t have to buy new tubes and cups because I got them from the hospital). Anyway – I guess my point is I was lucky I was able to borrow one, because otherwise I would have been SOL. I was signed up for the most expensive insurance that was available to me (and it wasn’t cheap by any means) and I couldn’t get insurance to cover it. I ended up exclusively pumping, and if I hadn’t been able to borrow my sister-in-law’s then it would have just been formula, and I wouldn’t have had pumping as an option.

  3. Terry says:

    Gosh, I would have been happy if they had just let me use money in my Flexible Spending Account to cover the cost. You can buy a first aid kit with pre-tax money, but not a breast pump. It seemed ridiculous.

  4. Tony Nefouse says:

    Most private health plans cover manual breast pumps with a script from your doctor.
    The new law is now going to cover the equipment at 100% with no cost to the insured. One question that will be debated is should electric breast pumps be covered under this new rule.
    Anytime we have an insurance mandate it increase premium for everyone. Some mandates with have a larger impact than others. Will this particular mandate have a huge impact on premium? Will states have to raise taxes so that they can cover mandates under Medicaid type plans?
    With the health care reform mandates it is projected that we could see premiums double on top of medical trend.

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