You may already know that one of the Affordable Care Act’s great new preventive benefits for women is coverage of breastfeeding supports and supplies. Women with health coverage through the new Marketplaces, and many who have coverage through an employer, are now able to get breast pumps and help from a lactation consultant as they learn to breastfeed, deal with breastfeeding problems and, if they choose, return to work – without any out-of-pocket expense! Breastfeeding benefits both moms and babies, and this coverage helps women overcome some of the problems they often encounter as they start breastfeeding or if they go back to work as nursing mothers.
What you may not know is that women in the military and women in military families, who have health coverage through TRICARE, have not been eligible for this new preventive benefit. But this week, just in time for Memorial Day, both houses of Congress have taken big steps towards fixing this problem. Read more »
As we marked the 35th anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, we reflected on how pregnancy is still used as an excuse to push women out of work. It turns out lactating on the job can be just as dangerous for women. Take the case of Bobbi Bockoras. Bobbi works at a glass factory in Pennsylvania. She gave birth earlier this year and informed her employer she would be breastfeeding her child and so needed time to pump during her shift. Instead of providing Bobbi with a safe space to do so, her employer asked why she could not pump in a bathroom, which is prohibited by the federal law in light of health and privacy concerns. When Bobbi told her employer that she had a legal right to pump in a space that is not a bathroom, her employer placed her in a first-aid room, where her co-workers pounded on the door to get in, greased the doorknob to the room, and openly mocked her by insinuating she was a cow.
When Bobbi complained about these incidents, her supervisor instead placed her in an old locker room covered in dead bugs and with exposed electrical wiring and no air conditioning. He also retaliated against her by removing her from the day shift—which allowed her to breastfeed her baby on a regular schedule—to a rotating shift that took a toll on her body and caused her to produce less milk for her newborn. Read more »
A recent New York Times blog, Breast-Feeding Services Lag the Law, describes the challenges women face trying to obtain this new benefit. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires “new” health plans to cover certain preventive services without cost-sharing, which means enrollees should not face out-of-pocket costs such as co-payments, deductibles or co-insurance. (If you want more information about which plans are considered “new” see our helpful fact sheet.)
These new plans are required to cover breast-feeding support, supplies and counseling. The counseling component is critical, because some mothers find initiating and maintaining breast-feeding challenging. The law recognizes this difficulty and requires plans to cover “comprehensive prenatal and postnatal lactation support [and] counseling.” This means that breastfeeding mothers now have health insurance coverage for lactation counseling without cost-sharing for as long as they are breastfeeding.
But, as the article describes, some insurance companies may be slow to fully cover this benefit by failing to provide a list of in-network providers, or referring women to other providers like pediatricians who may not be trained in lactation counseling. Read more »
A recent NPR blogTo Succeed at Breast-feeding, Most Moms Could Use Some Help details problems many new mothers have when initiating breast-feeding. But blog does not mention some exciting news—a new health care benefit that is already helping mothers start and continue breast-feeding. Breast-feeding is good for moms and good for babies, and new moms can get the help they need getting started, thanks to the health care law, also known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.
The law requires all “new” health plans to cover breast-feeding support and supplies without cost sharing, which means not paying for a co-payment, co-insurance, or deductible. Read more »
When my sister Leah found out she was pregnant with her second child, she knew that she wanted to breast feed the new baby for a year. She planned to go back to work when her daughter was only 4 months old, so she needed a breast pump. In December of 2012, she called her insurance company to find out what kind of coverage the company would provide. During that first call, Leah was given the run around. Everyone she spoke to told her it was not their responsibility to cover her breast pump, she should call someone else. After several useless calls, Leah gave up.
Six months later I started an internship at the National Women’s Law Center. I learned that the health care law requires insurance companies to provide coverage of breast pumps for women without co-pays or deductibles. However, my sister, like many women, still didn’t know about this part of the law, so I decided to give her a call. We talked through her situation and I directed her to some NWLC resources, including the NLWC toolkit, that could help her get the coverage she deserves. Read more »
This weekend, the Washington Post published an article describing how the breast pump industry is faring now that the health care law requires health insurance coverage of such pumps. The article quoted our very own Judy Waxman and yours truly. As expected, there were many comments from readers vehemently disagreeing with the premise of covering breast pumps. The gist of the complaint is: “why should I pay for other peoples’ breast pumps. Why do women get these things for free?”
My initial response to these complaints is – as I have explained time and again – women are not getting their birth control or pumps for “free.” They are paying for it when they pay for health insurance, either by working for it and having it included as part of the employee’s benefit package (and likely still paying part of the premium) or by paying for it directly on the individual market. So this stuff isn’t “free,” the woman IS paying for it. Do you call the preventive care visits that now don’t have a no co-pay as “free?” No, it is not free. You pay premiums to your health insurance company so that they cover these medical care costs when you need such care. Read more »
This blog post is a part of NWLC’s Mother’s Day 2012 blog series. For all our Mother’s Day posts, please click here.
My daughter was a champion breast-feeder. (These days she tries, and often fails, to be a champion rester at pre-kindergarden.) While there were a few bumps in the road – a slow start, a clogged duct, some supply issues as we closed in on the 12-month mark – breastfeeding was one of the easier things in her first year of life.
Nevertheless, I estimate that I spent over $700 on breastfeeding that year. It all adds up – a breast pump, some help from lactation consultants, renting a hospital-grade rental pump to help maintain supply those last few months of pumping at work – even for a mom-baby pair that didn’t experience many problems.
$700 is a lot of money, but it didn’t feel like such a big financial bite after I spoke to my friend Meaghan. Meaghan has spent exactly $761.90 in the first four weeks of her younger daughter’s life. That includes four visits with lactation consultants, renting a hospital-grade pump, pump parts and supplies, and supplements to help with thrush and clogged ducts. Her newborn has trouble latching, so Meaghan has been pumping and then bottle-feeding, and seeking a lot of help Read more »
This blog post is a part of NWLC’s Mother’s Day 2012 blog series. For all our Mother’s Day posts, please click here.
Many of my friends will celebrate their first Mother’s Day being a mom this year. Others have recently expanded their families or have a first child on the way.
I’m happy that all these kids were born after the health care law was passed – because that means my friends can be secure that their kids will have access to health care. That includes my friend Robyn, whose son Jax had to have heart surgery when he was only three months old. Without the health care law, Robyn would have to worry about Jax hitting a lifetime limit on his insurance or being denied coverage for having a pre-existing condition.
The health care law also improves the health of women – like my friend Robyn and all my friends who are new moms.
Preventive Care with No Cost Sharing for New and Expecting Moms
All new health plans are already providing preventive services – such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension screenings – with no cost sharing. Starting this August, the list of preventive services will expand to cover women’s health services including many services important to expecting and new moms. These services include:
Prenatal Care: Testing for gestational diabetes without cost sharing and a well-woman visit including prenatal care means that expecting moms will know what steps they need to take to have a healthy pregnancy.
Breastfeeding Support and Supplies: New moms will have access to lactation counseling and rental of breastfeeding supplies without copays or deductibles. In addition to the preventive services, employers are now required to provide a clean space—that is not a bathroom—for new moms to pump.
Contraceptive Coverage: The full range of FDA-approved contraceptive coverage, including birth control pills, rings, implants, tubal ligation and more will be provided by plans without cost sharing. This is important to new moms because birth control helps women plan pregnancies so moms can access preconception and prenatal care and space pregnancies to help have a healthy baby.
Happy Women’s History Month! All throughout March, we’ll be sharing quotes on Facebook to celebrate, so watch our page. Also this week in our roundup: The Oscars and the Bechdel Test, public breastfeeding, and a new documentary on bullying in schools.
Via Feminisim2.0 – The 84th annual Academy Awards were broadcast last Sunday night. Say what you will about Billy Crystal’s hosting job, but a new video from Feminist Frequencyhits the nail on the head about one of the most frustrating things about Hollywood: the lack of strong, fully-formed roles for women in blockbuster and award-caliber films. Specifically, this video takes a look at which of the films up for Best Picture passed the Bechdel Test. (Spoiler alert: not many.)
This is what I remember about the Lunar New Year as a child: I got to stay up late to go to temple, people gave me money in red envelopes for no other reason than I was a kid, and a week of endless buffets with relatives. As an adult, this holiday has taken on a new meaning. Now, I can barely keep my eyes open for it to hit midnight, I send money home to stuff red envelopes for my nephews, and I organize my life around the Asian zodiac in a way that I mocked my parents for doing (sorry mom and dad).
Let me go back a little. I should start by saying that like many other Asian cultures, the Vietnamese use the Gregorian or Western calendar for our day-to-day activities, but still celebrate our New Year’s according to the lunar calendar. The Vietnamese New Year, our biggest holiday, is called Tet and follows the Asian zodiac, which means each year is associated with a different animal with a total of 12 animal years.
So for many Asian people, this week, not three weeks ago, starts our new year. And this year is like no other year – it’s the year of luck and fortune, also known as the year of the dragon. It’s believed that major events taking place during the year of the dragon are lucky. And a major event that people commonly aim for is having a baby. Read more »