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Ask the Experts: Breastfeeding and the Affordable Care Act Ask the Experts

Ask the Experts: Breastfeeding and the Affordable Care Act

I'm expecting my first baby next month and am planning to breastfeed. Is it true that I can get a free breast pump through my insurance? How does it work?

A: The implementation of the 2012 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires the majority of health plans to cover breastfeeding support and supplies for expectant and new moms. Here’s a break down of the benefits:

$0 copay pump. Most health insurance plans must offer expectant and new moms a $0 copay breast pump. However, you can’t buy the pump directly from your insurance provider or the manufacturer, but must go through a covered in-network supplier. Unsure how to find out who is covered under your plan? Here’s a look-up tool to help. (All you need to know is the state you live in and your health insurance provider.)

Pump upgrade. Having the right breast pump can impact your output and success in reaching your breastfeeding goals. While individual insurance plans determine which breast pump to offer at $0 copay, most will allow you to upgrade for a nominal fee if the $0 copay pump isn’t the one you want—just ask!

Use FSA/HSA funds. A breast pump upgrade, lactation consultant support, and breastfeeding accessories and supplies are covered expenses under Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), so be sure to take advantage of your existing funds or  sign up during your employer’s open enrollment season. Ask your human resources representative for more information, and visit HealthCare.gov, IRS.gov or TowersWatson.com.

Secondary pump. If you plan to return to work or know you’ll be away from the baby often, consider getting a second pump for convenience on-the-go. Get more back-to-work tips at MedelaAtWork.com.

There are many resources available to support a mom’s success throughout her breastfeeding journey. Just as you plan ahead for the arrival of the baby, do the same if you know you want to breastfeed. Get your supplies before the baby arrives, know where you’ll breastfeed or pump, and enjoy those early days with the baby!

—Irene M. Zoppi RN, MSN, IBCLC, clinical education specialist for Medela