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How You Can Help Cover Formula Costs for Breast Cancer Survivors

Parents who've had mastectomies are guaranteed a breast pump under the Affordable Care Act—but not infant formula.
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profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
Assistant Editor
Updated
October 5, 2022
mother giving formula bottle to babhy
Image: Tomsickova Tatyana | Shutterstock

Did you know that mothers are guaranteed a free breast pump and lactation support under the Affordable Care Act? While this is a great step forward to helping many moms get the care they need, it can feel like a slap in the face for some women.

As of January 2022, more than 3.8 million women in the US are currently being treated for breast cancer or have finished treatment. For many of these women who have chosen to become mothers, breastfeeding isn’t an option, whether it is because of a current treatment or a mastectomy.

Despite this, Breast cancer previvors and survivors are oftentimes still given flyer upon flyer about free breast pump and lactation support, with no coverage offered for donated breast milk or formula. This is a major policy gap that we can’t ignore.

To get Breast Cancer previvors and survivors the formula coverage they deserve, nonprofit The Breasties, and Bobbie for Change, the social impact arm of formula subscription company Bobbie, have started a petition for change. The petition, which now has over 9,500 signatures, is pushing for new legislation to create insurance equality covering formula or donor milk for all moms who have undergone a mastectomy.

“Currently, the coverage of infant formula or donor milk by insurance is tied to the medical necessity of the baby. It’s only considered if the baby has a medical condition. But in cases where the parent physically can’t breastfeed their babies, due to a mastectomy or other breast cancer treatment, the medical necessity for formula or donor milk still exists,” the petition states. “The insurance coverage of infant formula or donor milk should be bundled with the parent’s breast cancer treatment coverage to ensure insurance equality.”

The petition goes on to explain why free breast pumps and lactation support are not helpful or supportive and don’t even make sense for parents who have had their breasts removed. “Infants of these individuals require infant formula or donor breast milk as a matter of survival. It clearly makes sense to provide a level of coverage for these items rather than breastfeeding support items for those who choose to have babies post-mastectomy,” the petition states.

While Breasties and Bobbie for Change have already helped hundreds of breast cancer survivors and previvors get the formula they need, we can’t rely on one company to do this job. Systematic change needs to happen, and you can be a part of it.

If you want to help push forward new policy change to support insurance equality for parents who can’t breastfeed due to breast cancer, you can add your signature to the petition here. As of the publication of this story, the petition is only 500 signatures short of its 10,000 signatures goal.

While we await these broader policy changes, if you or someone you know has undergone a mastectomy or lumpectomy and can’t breastfeed, email your story to bobbieforchange@hibobbie.com and someone from the Bobbie Team will be in touch.

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