Lactation Consultants and other health care providers have been lobbying and pressuring lawmakers for breastfeeding protection and promotion for years. Now it’s here, but legislation jargon can be very confusing. Here’s what you need to know:
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) provides provisions to encourage mothers to achieve and exceed their breastfeeding goals, including:
Health insurance benefits to help cover costs associated with providing breast milk to infants, including coverage of breastfeeding education and supplies in non-grandfathered health insurance plans.
Prior to the ACA, the IRS agreed to include breastfeeding supplies as an eligible expense for health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) thanks to the promotion of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Coverage for breastfeeding education: As announced in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) 2011 guidance, breastfeeding benefits for non-grandfathered health insurance plans include pre- and postnatal counseling by a trained provider in conjunction with each child. Women may access comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers. The benefits are available at no cost share to consumers.
Breastfeeding supplies benefits: The ACA requires non-grandfathered health insurance plans to cover the cost of breast pump rental or purchase at low or no cost to consumers.
Insurance Coverage: The breastfeeding coverage applies to all health plans except grandfathered plans. Under the law, 23 preventive health services for women are to be covered with no copayment, co-insurance or deductible in non-grandfathered plans. Many private employers already cover these services. For more information about Women’s Preventive Health Services visit healthcare.gov.
The National Breastfeeding Helpline: The National Breastfeeding Helpline from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health has trained breastfeeding peer counselors to provide support by phone. The counselors can help answer common breastfeeding questions. They can also help you decide if you need to see a doctor or lactation consultant. The Helpline (800.994.9662) is available for all breastfeeding mothers, partners, prospective parents, family members and health professionals seeking to learn more about breastfeeding. The Helpline is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., EST. Help is available in English and Spanish.
What can expectant or new mothers do?
- Set your breastfeeding goals.
- Find a pediatrician who is supportive of your breastfeeding goals.
- If you are working outside the home, talk to your employer about returning to work. Develop a workday plan for pumping while away from your baby. See a lactation consultant, and plan to attend our Strategies to Provide Breastmilk Through Pumping While Returning to Work class.
- Contact your insurance company and ask what exactly is covered and where to go to obtain breastfeeding education and supplies. Some insurance companies let you go anywhere and then get reimbursed, while other companies require patients to go to a specific provider or retailer.
- Enroll in a breastfeeding class.
- Obtain a breastpump through your insurance, if able. We recommend obtaining your pump after baby arrives as you may need a hospital grade rental pump, and some insurance companies only cover use of those pumps if you have not already obtained a personal use pump. Please contact a lactation consultant at 425.688.5516 to see what pump is best if your insurance gives you multiple options.
- Once your baby is delivered, put your baby skin to skin and breastfeed your baby within the first hour. Continue offering your breast often.
Enjoy your baby, and ask for help with breastfeeding if needed. Overlake offers prenatal breastfeeding classes and prenatal lactation consultations. Once your baby is born, you will receive education and assistance with trained nurses and, if needed, lactation consultants in the hospital. After you go home, support continues with your post-partum follow-up appointment. You can also make appointments for one-on-one visits with Outpatient Lactation for further assistance with any breastfeeding issues and needs for returning to work. Additionally, we have a great support group for new mothers called After Baby Comes.