You may have heard that you can get a free breast pump through Obamacare. That’s true—but it depends on what your insurance covers. Obamacare is a nickname for the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010. It went into effect August 1, 2012. Part of the act is meant to give people better access to preventative care, and that includes helping pregnant women and new moms pay for lactation support, counseling and breastfeeding equipment. So now, many health insurance plans cover the cost of a breast pump (hooray!). Here’s how it works:
Check your plan
First, call your health insurance company and ask what’s covered and how you get it. “Every insurer and plan is different,” says Amanda Cole, owner of Yummy Mummy, a New York City store and online retailer that’s an in-network provider of pumps for several insurance companies. “Pregnant women and new moms are usually eligible for a standard electric breast pump either for free or with a co-pay.”
Find an in-network provider
Your breast pump may be covered, but only if you buy it in the right place, so make sure you get the list from your insurance carrier of its in-network providers. There may be some paperwork you need to fill out, so get that too. Cole says that Yummy Mummy will call your insurance company for you to make sure your purchase will be covered. The coolest part? In some cases, the retailer and the store do the transaction between just them, so you simply get your free breast pump without a hassle. In other cases, you may have to pay for it, turn in some forms and receive reimbursement later.
So why is a breast pump part of health insurance? You probably already know the amazing health benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding for at least a year is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics—and having a good quality pump can make sticking with it after going back to work easier. “So many moms are working, and the maternity leave policies in the US are quite short,” points out Cole. “Really, a breast pump is needed if you want to keep breastfeeding. This can increase breastfeeding rates and how long a woman nurses her baby.”
Once you get your pump, practice using it, and save up some extra breast milk before you go back to work. Knowing you have a freezer stocked with milk will make the transition less stressful. And the less you’re stressed, the easier it will be to keep up your breastfeeding relationship. “Really, this is an amazing thing,” says Cole. “I think it’s really going to help moms reach their breastfeeding goals.”
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