One Benefit Of ObamaCare: A Boom In Breast Pumps

While much of the discussion over the Affordable Care Act has revolved around big, complex questions about the insurance market, health exchanges and new payments systems for delivering care, The Washington Post reports on one of the law’s more intimate, down-to-earth provisions: free breast pumps.

Indeed, as The Post’s Sarah Kliff notes: pump demand is intensifying following full implementation of the law’s provision requiring insurers to cover the cost of providing breast pumps and lactation consultants to women.

(Wayan Vota/flickr)

(Wayan Vota/flickr)

She writes:

“We’re getting a lot of calls from prospective mothers and new mothers,” said Bruce Frishman, president of New Hampshire Pharmacy and Medical Equipment, a supplier based in the District. “We’ve started stocking a lot more pumps that would be purchased through insurance.”

Yummy Mummy, a New York boutique that specializes in breast pumps and accessories, is in the process of acquiring a warehouse and call center to accommodate the increased demand.

“I have three employees taking calls right now,” owner Amanda Cole said. “We’re still in the stage where we’re figuring out how to add fax machines and phone lines. It’s all very new to us.”

Specialty suppliers like Yummy Mummy stand to benefit from the change if they manage to get on insurers’ lists of approved distributors. Women who might have bought a breast pump at a local retailer are now likely to turn to their insurance plan.

It’s also probably a good time to dust off your resume if you’re a lactation consultant. Kliff writes:

Health-insurance companies have also begun recruiting lactation consultants to join their networks so they can comply with the mandate to cover lactation support and counseling.

In late July, Aetna sent lactation consultants a letter noting that the company was expanding its “network of international board certified lactation consultants” and inviting providers to join.

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  • Stephanie

    Josh, the additional cost to the insurance company of pumps will hopefully be made up for by the decrease in pediatric visits for ear infections–breast-fed babies tend to have far fewer of them. If the availability of pumps increases occurrence of breastfeeding, we may also see some reduction in allergies and obesity. This is preventative medicine at its best.

  • Josh Archambault

    Not sure “free” is the right word here. No point of service out-of-pocket expense perhaps, but we make up for it on the premium side.
    Someone should track the cost of the average pump pre-ACA and then compare it to 2-3 years from now. I am going to guess it goes up significantly.

    • Joel Parks

      breast feeding is better for the child (and in some ways the family) in numerous ways that are difficult to quantify financially. My understanding is that the long-term health benefits and concomitant health care savings far outweigh the cost of equipment.

      Your point about the possible cost increase of equipment is interesting, but only fraud is likely to cause it. We should all be concerned about fraud. But it is unrelated to the specific issue of infant+mother care.