The Affordable Care Act rightly recognizes that breastfeeding is valuable for the health of mothers and their babies. Not everyone chooses to breastfeed, but they deserve the opportunity to make that choice. Health insurance coverage for breast pumps and lactation consultations will help many women, but this does not go far enough.
Insurance companies recognize that retail pumps are sufficient for occasional pumping, such as necessary during work days. However, for mothers with infants unable or unwilling to nurse, a hospital grade pump is essential. These pumps can withstand the heavy use necessary to build and maintain a milk supply without a baby at the breast. As such, many insurers will cover a hospital grade pump if the baby is in the NICU.
UnitedHealthcare, the number one insurance company in the U.S. (by market share) only recognizes two scenarios requiring a hospital-grade pump. An infant currently in the NICU or a cleft palate is necessary to qualify. Sadly, many infants without a cleft are also unable to nurse.
Many premature infants struggle with a weak suck or reflux even after discharge. Full term infants may also experience coordination issues or other challenges that prevent a nursing relationship. Finally, some mothers may have physical characteristics that create nursing challenges.
I am creating this petition to send a message to insurance companies. It is not just babies with cleft palates that need breast milk but cannot get it by nursing. All mothers deserve the right to breastfeed. This shouldn't be an option for rich people only. I am lucky - my husband and I are able to pay the rental out of pocket. Many women are not. Studies show benefits for both mother and child that we do not fully understand - but will likely save insurance dollars later.