Breast pumps are an amazing feat of technological advancement. Way back in the day, women had no choice but to nurse their babies or hand-express their milk (or use wet nurses). Then came this frightening contraption in the 1800s:
Needless to say, I was super thankful for my modern-day breast pump when I was breastfeeding. Even though I almost exclusively breastfed, my breast pump gave me the opportunity to escape every once in a while for a much needed break.
However, every time I see a new mother buying a breast pump, I cringe. Why don’t I think new moms should buy a breast pump? BECAUSE YOU CAN GET ONE FOR FREE.
That’s right. No catches, no joke. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) started covering breast pumps back in the summer of 2012, and a large majority of insurance plans cover them at 100% of cost.
But, new mothers STILL aren’t taking advantage of this benefit or the others covered for breastfeeding mothers. A study done by Byram Healthcare found that 82% of expectant mothers don’t know their breastfeeding rights under the ACA. Here are some more shocking facts to ponder:
--42% of expectant mothers didn’t know breast pumps are covered at no cost
--64% of expectant mothers didn’t know lactation consultant sessions are covered at no cost
--61% of expectant mothers didn’t know employers must provide breaks for mothers to pump milk
In this day and age, when information is free and easily accessible, I think it’s crazy that more women don’t know about these benefits that are covered by their insurance.
Why aren’t more new mothers taking advantage?
It’s one thing if you simply didn’t know that your insurance covers the cost of your breast pump. But, almost 3 out of 5 mothers DO know that breast pumps are covered at no cost…and still, they’re purchasing them out of pocket. According to the baby registry site Babylist, the number of registries that included a breast pump increased 35% between 2014 and 2016 – a full four years after ACA began covering breast pumps. Why?
One of the main reasons women don’t order a free breast pump is because they don’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with insurance. And who would blame them? Dealing with insurance companies Is. The. Pits. “Every plan is different!” is such a common (and frustrating) response whenever you try to ask a basic question about insurance. Honestly, even figuring out the answer to what your insurance plan will cover is enough to make you want to lay down and take a nap.
Furthermore, 21% of expectant mothers believe they can only order or receive a free breast pump on their due date or after the baby’s birth, and for many new moms, waiting to deal with this hassle until after the baby is born is just too stressful.
Free, insurance-covered breast pumps: The facts
Fact #1: Under ACA, your health insurance plan must cover the cost of a breast pump. The details for how each plan fulfills this requirement vary a bit – for example, it may be either be a rental unit or a new one you’ll keep, and your plan may have guidelines on whether the covered pump is manual or electric, the length of the rental, and when you’ll receive it (before or after birth). BUT, here’s the good news: Most plans cover the cost of a new, double-electric breast pump for you to keep, and they’re usually some of the top breast pump brands (eg, Medela, Spectra, etc). It’s likely the breast pump that you were planning to order and pay for out-of-pocket is covered by your insurance plan for free.
Fact #2: You can order your breast pump as soon as you know your due date, even if your insurance company doesn’t allow shipment until closer to delivery. That means you can check “order a breast pump” off your to-do list pretty early in your pregnancy, and it will magically arrive on your door step around the time the baby arrives.
Fact #3: There are plenty of services that handle all of the details of ordering insurance-covered breast pumps for new mothers for free. You don’t have to navigate this seemingly-complicated process yourself. In addition to getting your breast pump for free, you can get someone to do the dirty work for you…for free. I know, it seems too good to be true, but it’s not. These services get paid through your insurance company, so again, this is a benefit of your insurance plan that you’re already paying for via your premiums. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?
How to get your free breast pump (without doing any of the work)
We formed an alliance with Edwards Health Care Services (EHCS) to bring this amazing service to our moms. Before you get started, make sure you know…
1) Your due date. If you don’t know it yet, wait until you do.
2) Your ob/gyn’s contact information
3) Your insurance policy information
Then, click here and fill in the form with your personal info, due date, doctor’s info, and insurance policy info.
Once you hit submit, EHCS will confirm your details, and then they’ll call you if they have any questions. Next, they’ll contact your insurance company on your behalf to find out what kind of breast pump you’re eligible for and any other details around your specific plan. They’ll also work directly with your ob/gyn to obtain a prescription for the breast pump (needed for the insurance process).
After that, they’ll call you to let you know what your options are and will ask you to choose the breast pump you’d like, and then they’ll place the order and handle all details. Finally, your free breast pump will be mailed to your door step close to your due date.
That’s it! I went through this process myself when I had Mae, and I promise it’s painless. It’s also awesome to get a $200-$300 breast pump absolutely free.
To close, here’s some rough math: According to the CDC, there are about 3.6 million births per year in the United States, and approximately 83% of those moms will try breastfeeding – just under 3 million. If 42% of those mothers don’t know about this benefit (1.25 million), and a fraction of the people who do know about it are actually taking advantage of it, that’s around ~2-2.5 million new moms who could be receiving free breast pumps each year (and are paying for this benefit through their insurance premiums!) and aren’t. I truly think this is a disgrace, and I often wonder if the insurance companies intentionally don’t make it well-known that this is a benefit because it saves them money.
If you’re an expectant mom or if you know an expectant mom, spread the word! Saving a few hundred dollars on your breast pump (or removing it from your baby registry) means you can upgrade to that awesome glider you wanted or ask your generous aunt to get you the running/walking stroller you’ve had your eye on. This benefit – and all of the benefits for breastfeeding mothers under ACA – shouldn’t be passed up.
About Katie Stansberry
Katie Stansberry is a work-remote mom of two sweet girls and the creator of Breastfeeding Bliss. After struggling at the beginning of her breastfeeding journey, she wanted to create a happy place where breastfeeding moms could find practical tips, positive inspiration, and the newest and best breastfeeding products. On her "Back to Bliss" breastfeeding blog, she shares her personal stories and tips for making breastfeeding and motherhood an easier and more enjoyable experience.