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Monday, January 7, 2013

Obamacare's Breast Pump Boom

Posted by on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Wonkblog:

Tucked within the Affordable Care Act is a provision requiring insurance companies to cover breast pumps and visits to lactation consultants at no cost to the patient.

Other mandated benefits, including the requirement to pay for contraceptives, drew far more attention and controversy. But when health insurance plans began resetting Jan. 1 under the new terms, it was the breast- pump clause that took off with consumers.

Laws have consequences. And this particular consequence represents one of those rare moments when an obscure federal provision ends up being, as the National Women's Law Center put it, "advantageous for both women and babies."

 

Comments (24) RSS

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1
How did babies ever survive in the days before "lactation consultants?"
Posted by WestSeven on January 7, 2013 at 6:11 AM · Report this
Karla Canadian 2
@1 - in the old days, women would seetheir own mothers/sisters/aunts/etc. doing it and other lactating women may be around if she's unable. Since we live in a time not too long after formula was thought best and breastfeeding was considered "low class" or "impolite anywhere other than behind your own locked doors", it's necessary.

Most women don't get any kind of exposure to breastfeeding until they have to do it themselves. Parenting knowledge isn't passed on by genetic memory and it isn't instinctual!
Posted by Karla Canadian on January 7, 2013 at 6:27 AM · Report this
xjuan 3
@2, I agree. When I became a father, I learned, the hard way, how little my daughter's mother knew about breast feeding. Her mom didn't know either, since formula was promoted as a better option. Thanks to a consultant of The Leche League my daughter received the best food during many months.
Posted by xjuan on January 7, 2013 at 6:49 AM · Report this
Jessica 4
So many of my friends didn't know that pumps could be covered by insurance in the past few years and ended up paying $400+ out of pocket for theirs-- sure, you could not pump and stay home, but when it's necessary for both parents to work, pumps are essential to being able to continue to breastfeed. I was able to get mine covered by insurance, but still paid $70 OOP.

@1: I saw lactation consultants repeatedly in an attempt to get my kid's latch straightened out. You've obviously never had the special pleasure of a screaming, despereately hungry newborn biting your nipples at 3am in a desperate attempt to eat. They weren't covered, so there was at least $500 OOP. While I was lucky enough to have a mother and MIL who had both breastfed, they both were about 30 years out of practice. A LC sees babies and mothers all day every day and are not only lactation consultants, but baby whisperers and sounding boards for panicky, depressed, and guilty mothers. They're fucking angels and anyone who wants to talk shit about them can come through me first.
Posted by Jessica on January 7, 2013 at 7:15 AM · Report this
5
My best friend, a highly-educated individual and off-the-chart smart, was surprised at how much trouble she had breastfeeding. "There is nothing natural about breastfeeding" she would declare, especially after she got a nasty infection in one of her nipples ("pain worse than a bad tooth"). She was able to get advice from her in-laws (medical professionals), but she still had to work at it til she got the hang of breastfeeding. So, thank you to the Affordable Care Act for addressing the realities of life.
Posted by Bugnroolet on January 7, 2013 at 7:45 AM · Report this
emma's bee 6
@1: how did babies ever survive before immunization and antibiotics? A: many of them didn't. Christ, what a nonsensical comment.
Posted by emma's bee on January 7, 2013 at 7:50 AM · Report this
7
Such wonderful news! Thanks for posting it, Mr. S.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 7, 2013 at 7:57 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 8
@6
how did babies ever survive before immunization and antibiotics? A: many of them didn't. Christ, what a nonsensical comment.


It really is one of the stupider Slog comments I've seen in a few years.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://twitter.com/joeszi on January 7, 2013 at 8:16 AM · Report this
9
@6 it's not nonsensical. Eating is a natural biological function. Obviously many babies and mothers figured out how to breast feed before the days of highly paid ($200/hr!) lactation consultants, or else our ancestors wouldn't have made it.

Of course I realize that some infants wouldn't have made it if they or their mothers couldn't get it to work but its not a life or death situation these days, since formula is available, even if not condidered optimal.
Posted by WestSeven on January 7, 2013 at 8:17 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 10
I grew up semi-country, and come from a huge extended family. There was always somebody walking around with a baby clamped to their bosom, including Mother Vel-DuRay. I had no idea breast feeding was considered tacky until I moved out here. When my sister-in-law (who is the epitome of a redneck woman, living in Suburban Puyallup) got preggers and declared she would NEVER breast feed, I was thunderstruck. Thunderstruck, I tell you!

(By the way, when Mother Vel-DuRay had her first child in 1959, the nun at the hospital told her to drink a little beer when nursing. Now she tells everyone that. I have no idea if that is good advice, but the family endures, and reproduces at an alarming rate, so it must not be that bad)
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on January 7, 2013 at 8:17 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 11
Here. The Role of Cultural Factors in Human Breastfeeding: Adaptive Behaviour or Biopower. Reviews how breastfeeding is learned behavior for humans and other primates. Chimp colonies have different breastfeeding cultural norms that they've learned from older generations. Or just Google "primates breastfeeding captivity". Gorilla babies starve if their mothers don't have someone to teach them how to breastfeed. Research goes back forty years and more. It's not breaking news.

It's weird on this topic, there's so much (male) prejudice that is simultaneously anti-science and anti-family. How often do you see two biases together?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 7, 2013 at 8:28 AM · Report this
Karla Canadian 12
@9, and if a newborn can't latch onto a nipple, it'll bottle feed just fine?

Getting that food into a newborn isn't the easiest thing. As I said, earlier, there were many women around to learn from or watch. Now, not so much. WHich is why we need consultants. It's really not an easy thing to learn.

This is a bit of a point with me - everyone seems to assume that women have some inborn knowledge of how to care for babies. Ummm, no, it's a skill to learn like everything else in life. It leads to a lot of depression and feelings in inferiority of women who just can't get it right away.

Let me tell you from experience, a newborn latching incorrectly can cause tremendous amounts of pain and be frustrating for the baby. Plus, the little buggers can hold on like anything if you need to reposition and are dying from pain! Lactation consultants were a godsend to help get things sorted out properly and make it a good experience for me and my baby.
Posted by Karla Canadian on January 7, 2013 at 8:28 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 13
@9
Of course I realize that some infants wouldn't have made it if they or their mothers couldn't get it to work but its not a life or death situation these days, since formula is available, even if not condidered optimal.


Breast milk is wildly more healthy than formula and all the nutrition any infant needs for the first year at least of life. Additionally, it transfers a strong antibody system and immunities to the child as well as populating their gut with very healthy flora, neither of which they get from formula. Formula also been linked to later obesity.

Last, formula is expensive. Breast milk is free. We had trouble with our child--he needed his frenulum snipped (tongue tied, couldn't extend his tongue beyond his lower lip) for $200, and had an absolutely amazing local Seattle lactation consultant and registered nurse named Sarah Tyack that we paid out of pocket for a couple sessions. I think $300~. So for around $500~ dollars we got our kid completely sorted out on the breast, and haven't had to touch formula but for two weeks early on.

Formula, for the past year, may have cost us upward of $800-$1000. Add in next year as we transition to solids, at least a total of $1500+ versus $500. On top of all the health benefits it's more cost effective to nurse than use formula.

The only people that lose out here are the stock holders at the companies that make formula, which I could care less about.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://twitter.com/joeszi on January 7, 2013 at 8:37 AM · Report this
14
@1,9
Women and babies also managed to survive before obstetricians and gynecologists (at least some women and babies did) but I don't notice you implying that those highly-paid professionals are somehow superfluous, too.

Posted by Clayton on January 7, 2013 at 8:40 AM · Report this
15
@12 so if newborn can't latch either onto a bottle or breast, and gets no nourishment, one waits for an appointment with a consultant? I have no doubt that new mothers need lots of help with new motherhood, I'm just not sure that $200/hr consultants, "baby whisperers", etc., while probably valuable for some mothers, are the best use of limited healthcare dollars. After all, the money the insurance company is spending on these consultants comes out of the pockets of all who pay premiums.
Posted by WestSeven on January 7, 2013 at 8:44 AM · Report this
16
@ everyone. I don't have children. Had no idea it is such an issue getting infants to nurse. Shocked the species has lasted this long. Enjoy your lactation consultations.
Posted by WestSeven on January 7, 2013 at 8:47 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 17
@15 you obviously know nothing about natal medicine and nutrition, and are a dickhead, if you're lumping in "baby whisperers" with lactation consultants, who are medical professionals. Go back to the 1950s where you belong.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://twitter.com/joeszi on January 7, 2013 at 8:47 AM · Report this
18
@9 "Of course babies survived before vaccines. Living is a natural biological function. Who needs all these vaccinations by $200/hr immunologists?"

I was almost going to ask you if you were a familiar with a condition known as "failure to thrive," but then I came to the conclusion that you're pretty much retarded, and it doesn't really matter.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 7, 2013 at 8:57 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 19
@15

One of the points of paraprofessionals is that they are much cheaper, and much more available, than MDs. So instead of waiting around for your expensive pediatrician to squeeze you in, you go straight to an LPN who will see you right away and spend all the time with you that you need. Who can even drive out to your house. It's cost efficient and -- if you've ever studied a thing we call capitalism -- an example of increased productivity through specialization. It's freaky to be anti-science AND anti-family AND anti-capitalist. Is there even a name for that?

It's excusable that you're ignorant of that shit, but to be completely lost about the concept of lactation itself? And you call yourself a mammal.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 7, 2013 at 9:03 AM · Report this
Asparagus! 20
I bet @1,@16 knows how to grow crops and butcher an animal, because, you know, if we needed experts to train people how to do that stuff, it'd be amazing that our species had survived.
Posted by Asparagus! on January 7, 2013 at 9:15 AM · Report this
treacle 21
"...with consumers."

Not citizens, mind you, consumers. Because, we're just a bunch of parasitic grubs. Fuck you "Wonkblog" and all news outlets that continue to refer to the citizenry as simplistic, apolitical, ravenous, flapping pie-holes.
Posted by treacle on January 7, 2013 at 10:30 AM · Report this
Karla Canadian 22
@16, yes, that's obvious.

Just a reminder, that "natural" doesn't mean "everyone knows how and can do it easily". I constantly amazes that people assume that women have some mommy knowledge gene that suddenly activates! BAM! You have all the knowledge necessary to do everything for your baby the instant he/she is born.

Nope!
Posted by Karla Canadian on January 7, 2013 at 10:31 AM · Report this
23
This thread is beautiful because it demonstrates the archetypal male reaction to being caught talking shit about something they don't understand, and also explains how congress handles reproductive health legislation
Posted by eptified on January 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Jessica 24
I can only assume that WestSeven came out of the womb fully self-sufficient and has never needed anyone to teach them anything, ever. How else would they have survived? Jesus H Christ, I don't go around scoffing at male-specific medical issues that I have no personal experience with and know nothing about, how about you shut up about lactation consultants.
Posted by Jessica on January 7, 2013 at 6:25 PM · Report this

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