Photo Credit: Lansinoh
Whether you're going back to work or have responsibilities that mean you need to be away from your baby for a few hours, a powerful and efficient breast pump can make all the difference to help you continue breastfeeding. But double electric pumps like the popular Medela Pump in Style can come with a daunting price tag of around $300.
That's one reason why a new regulation, which went into effect August 2012, has been put in place requiring insurance companies to cover breast pumps and lactation consultants -- without co-pays or deductibles. Translation: you can now get a free fancy breast pump! Breastfeeding supplies and support are two of the new preventive care services now available to women thanks to the Affordable Care Act. However, even though the policy seems simplistic it's actually a tough one to navigate. Here's what you need to know about getting a breast pump covered by your insurance.
Start dates vary: Depending on your plan, coverage may not really begin this week. Confused? Some private health insurance plans will not begin offering the new preventative care benefits until your plan renews. So if your plan renews on January 1, 2013, that's when you'll be able to reap the breastfeeding benefits.
Grandfathered plans are exempt: If your health insurance plan was in place before March 23, 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was signed, it is not required to comply with the new breast pump and breastfeeding support provisions. That said, you may still have some coverage, and will only have to come up with a co-pay or deductible out of pocket. Not sure if your plan is grandfathered? Call and ask.
You might need a prescription: Sometimes your insurance will require a prescription from your health care provider, but many simply need your doctor or midwife's name and phone number.
You can choose your pump: Think your health care plan will only cover inexpensive handheld pumps? Wrong! You should be able to get a top of the line, double electric breast pump through your insurance company. Alternatively, your plan will cover the rental of a hospital grade breast pump.
You need to find out where to buy it: Many insurance companies will connect you to a medical supply company that can ship your desired breast pump directly to you.
Bottom line: Start by calling your insurance company. They'll be able to tell you exactly what your plan covers. But don't take "I don't know" for an answer. Since this is a new policy, some customer service representatives may not be aware of the specifics yet, but you shouldn't stop asking until you get a clear answer about what's covered and how to get it.