Just under nine years ago, I returned to my full-time job after having a baby. And I brought with me a key piece of equipment that helped me manage my work/parenting balance: A breast pump. I was lucky enough to find a used pump, so I wasn't out hundreds of dollars for the kind of electric pump that helps you express milk quickly enough to make the whole process manageable.
Right now, millions of mothers to babies are returning to work. Many of them are committed to breastfeeding -- and today there's one exciting piece of news that can help them. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, as of January 1, insurance companies are required to cover breast pumps.
Free breast pumps for everyone! Okay, not exactly. Just if you're fortunate enough be covered by health insurance already. But if you are, you're covered not just for breastfeeding support equipment, but also for consultants. Most likely that's just for consultants already part of your insurance network, but hey -- that's still progress. Have you ever priced out a lactation consultant? Yipes. I couldn't afford one.
This coverage could make the difference between breastfeeding for a full year or not breastfeeding at all for some women.
Some might say, "The government shouldn't be paying for breast pumps!" To which I say, YO! I'm talking about private health insurance, not Medicaid. To clarify, in case it wasn't obvious, this isn't about the government paying for breast pumps. Health insurance companies will cover them -- or they should be, anyway. We pay them money. They cover certain equipment and services. And guess what? This is equipment a lot of women want covered. (WIC provides some breastfeeding equipment and services, but that's not part of this legislation.)
And it's a smart investment all around. We all know the health benefits of breastfeeding. Enabling more women to breastfeed is preventative care that can save families and insurance money on health care costs over a lifetime. For both moms and kids.
Here's a helpful guide to how you can get your pump covered. Naturally they make it complicated because that's how most plans roll, but it's not impossible. Note: This went into effect for some back in August.
Would it make a difference to you if your health insurance covered breast pumps and equipment?
Image via planet oleary/Flickr