Earlier this month, about a week after my son was born, a Medela Pump In Style Advanced breast pump arrived at my doorstep. The amount of money I spent on the pump: nothing.
How did I get a free pump? Simple, the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) requires that most health insurance plans cover the cost of a breast pump, a benefit that didn’t exist back in 2012 when I had my daughter. Today’s hint is to make sure to take advantage of this coverage if you plan on breastfeeding.
So how do you go about getting the free pump? Simply call up your health insurance provider and ask about how to go about getting one. When I made the call, I was instructed to call one of three medical supply companies in order to get my free pump.
I called medical supply firm Edgepark and chose the Medela Pump in Style from among the six pumps offered (I chose it because I already had lots of Medela pump accessories at home leftover from pumping for my first child with the help of a hospital-grade rental Medela pump). A week later, my free pump arrived in the mail.
To be sure, as with any legislation, there’s lots of fine print. For instance, certain types of health insurance plans (“grandfathered” ones) don’t have to offer the coverage.
In addition, as Healthcare.gov points out, what exactly is covered — think which types of pumps you can get, how much of a pump’s cost you may have to pay yourself, when you’ll get a pump (think before or after baby’s birth) and whether you can get a rental or a pump to keep — varies by health insurance company. Some plans may also require that you get pre-authorization from your doctor (mine didn’t).
And as you can see from the process I went through to get my pump, you’ll have to spend a few minutes making phone calls and you may not be able to get exactly the pump you want, though it can’t hurt to ask about getting reimbursed for purchasing the pump you want.
However, pump companies are trying to make it easier for expecting, and new, moms to get their particular pumps. In 2013, for instance, Medela launched a “Find an Insurance-Covered Pump” tool “to help expecting moms and dads take advantage of the breast pump and lactation support coverage provided to them under the Affordable Care Act,” according to a Medela spokeswoman.
Enter your insurance provider and state at the site, and the tool will tell you the local and national suppliers to call to get an insurance-covered Medela breast pump. As Medela points out, however, you’ll still want to call your insurance company to “verify coverage” (for example, in my case, the tool listed more pump suppliers than the three my insurance company told me to call).
Elsewhere, about a year ago, pump manufacturer Hygeia launched abreastpumpandmore.com to help women get an insurance-covered Hygeia pump. At the site, you simply enter your email, due date, contact information and insurance details, and someone from Hygeia then will be in touch regarding whether you have approval for a Hygeia pump and when you can expect it to arrive in the mail.
Have you taken advantage of this benefit? Share your experiences with – and tips for — obtaining insurance-covered pumps, breastfeeding support and nursing supplies below, and check out related hints on pumping hacks for working moms, cleaning breastfeeding accessories and freezing pumped milk.