Affordable Care Act leads to unexpected breast pump shortage

Shortage was unanticipated by insurance companies

INDIANAPOLIS - An unintended consequence of a new law designed to encourage mothers to breastfeed is placing many new mothers on a waiting list.

A shortage of breast pumps has occurred since a provision of the Affordable Care Act went into effect last August.

The provision requires insurance companies to pay 100 percent of the cost of a breast pump for nursing mothers.

However, since insurance providers require that the pumps be sold only through specific vendors like medical supply companies, an unexpected shortage has occurred.

“We might see this in other areas of the Affordable Care Act, but clearly, it caught people off guard, and this is an important issue for mothers and babies,” said Tina Cardarelli, a state breastfeeding coordinator.

These pumps can cost $200-$300 or more, but the pumps mean that a baby can still get all of the benefits of a mother’s milk.

“We know that babies who thrive on breast milk make fewer sick visits to their providers. They’ll have fewer hospital admits for asthma and all sorts of things,” said lactation consultant Natalie Gross.

Cassie Kelley rents a pump for $60 a month and was told by her employer that coverage was not available to her until next year.

“At that point, he’ll be older, and it won’t be as beneficial to me at that point,” Kelley said.

Nationwide, parents are being told that they could be put on a 3-month waiting list to receive the free pump.

Insurance companies said this is an unanticipated consequence of a new benefit and that manufacturers are working to fill orders.

 

Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt

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