mater mea - Celebrating Motherhood and Women of Color

The Obamacare Provision More Moms Should Know About

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

The Obamacare Provision More Moms Should Know About

Words by Nesa Mangal

The Affordable Care Act has a little-known law that could change the barriers to breastfeeding for mothers everywhere.

There’s always a level of guilt that working mothers can’t escape. For Letta Thomas, a patient care tech in Gurnee, Illinois and a mother of four, there was one nagging concern in particular that bothered her the most. “When I had my children, I didn't breastfeed as much as I wanted to because work kept me busy,” Thomas explains now. “I always felt guilty that I didn’t always give my babies breast milk because I knew it was better.”

Unfortunately, an estimated 1-5% of women are physically unable to breastfeed their children. But for those who can, many feel as though they don’t have the time to breastfeed without a breast pump (nor the money, with decent pumps starting at $100). This may be especially true for our community: According to the Office of Minority Health (OMH), African-American women have the lowest breastfeeding rates when compared to other population groups. A mother shouldn’t have to choose between work and breastfeeding her newborn, and thanks to the Affordable Care Act she doesn't have to.

African-American women have the lowest breastfeeding rates when compared to other population groups.

Also known as “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act requires that most insurance plans provide preventative care. The Act includes a provision stating that "pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment.” Additionally, breastfeeding services and supplies are covered without any copays or deductibles. Yes, you read that rightno out-of-pocket costs to you.

With less than 14% of all women exclusively breastfeeding for the recommended six months, the new law is especially important to increasing breastfeeding’s accessibility. It’s a well-established fact that a mother’s milk is the best medicine for her baby: The Office of Women’s Health says that “breast milk has disease-fighting cells...that help protect infants from germs, illness, and even sudden infant death syndrome.” They also link breastfeeding to lowering various health risks in babies such as ear infections, asthma, obesity, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and childhood leukemia.

There are a number of retailers making it easy to use your insurance benefits to get the breastfeeding supplies you need. Yummy Mummy, a company that provides everything a breastfeeding mom could ever need, recently became an in-network provider for eight insurance agencies including Aetna Health Insurance, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Humana. Its website features a drop-down menu of insurance-covered products and shows you what merchandise your particular plan will cover. Yummy Mummy also delivers shipments to your home for free, saving mothers even more time and money.

So before you pass up the opportunity to breastfeed because you believe you don’t have the time or the access to pumping devices, give your insurance company a call to get the coverage you and your baby deserve.

“I just hope new mothers will take advantage of this,” says Letta Thomas. “It’s affordable breastfeeding. There’s no reason not to. It’s giving the gift of multitasking.”

And what mom doesn’t love that?