You Got Questions… We Got Answers…

26 April 2012 / 1 comment

There are so many questions asked about breastfeeding, breast pumps, breast milk, insurance, laws etc…. the list goes on and on. We have compiled the below list and have tried to answer them as best we can for you. If there is something really specific you would like more info on then hop on over to our Q&A section and ask away.,

We strive to keep this updated with the most current info, but alas we are only human. Sure we are super moms, but we still falter. If you see something that needs updating please bring it to our attention.

Are breast pumps covered by insurance?

  • There are some tools required in order to do a good job with certain actions. Having a breast pump is one such tool that a mother needs in order to be effective with nursing an infant. In most cases, the insurance company will pay for part of a breast pump system and some of the supplies that are needed to go along with it. Not every insurance company provides it, so check with your own specific company and check before you make any purchase of an expensive system to use. The breast pump could be manual or it could be electric, depending on the insurance company.


 Are breast pumps tax deductible?

  • There was a new law passed in 2011 that allows for breast pumps and breast pump supplies to be considered tax deductible.  The supplies and the pump itself are considered a medical expense and can be taken off the tax documents. In previous years, the pumps were considered feeding apparatus and were not allowed as deductible. For women who have flexible spending accounts at their jobs, the cost of the pump and system has to be above 7.5% of their adjusted gross income. Keep the receipt for the breast pump and any supplies as proof to turn in to the tax preparer at the end of the year.


Are hospital grade breast pumps better?

  • It depends on how often you plan on using it. They are faster and can provide more suction making them more efficient, however, other electric pumps can be purchased that rival a hospital pump.  A hospital grade pump might be faster, but a system purchased from the store might be more comfortable, which in turn allows the mother to feel more comfortable and be able to produce a better supply of milk due to the comfort. Manual pumps that are only needed a few times a week can work just as well for a mother too.


Are Medela breast pumps closed systems?

  • No, Medela breast pumps operate on an open system to collect milk. Since they are open, it is not recommended that these systems be purchased used or even sold to someone else. The open system is great for the mother using the device, but only one mother. The system provides efficient sucking of the breast so there is less time needed to pump while at work or on the go during the day.  This brand and the open system collection process is recommended by doctors and breastfeeding experts as being one of the best and easiest to use for new mothers.


Are used breast pumps safe?

  • Getting a used breast pump is a sticky topic of discussion. The FDA advises that breast pumps are only used for one person, because of the body fluids involved. Even though they can be sterilized and cleaned for selling, it isn’t recommended. Letting a friend or relative borrow a unit isn’t a crime, but you might not want to make a practice of selling a used breast pump to an individual you do not know personally. If you are renting or purchasing a used pump from a hospital, then it is a model that is allowed to be reused since the hospital will follow all government regulations regarding sales.


Can you rent breast pumps?

  • There are a few places where a mother can rent a breast pump system instead of purchasing one. Check with the doctor’s office and see if they offer pumps to mothers. If they do not, see if they can provide the name of a lactation specialist or lactation group in your area. These groups often rent out systems as a way to encourage women to breastfeed and to stick with it longer. Lastly, check with the hospital and see if they have a rental program where you can rent the pump but go out and purchase your own bags and nipples to use with the system.


Can you rent breast pumps from the hospital?

  • If there is a large hospital system in your region, they might have an extensive OB unit in the hospital. The larger the hospital is, the better the chances are that they will have equipment rental available. The equipment could be breast pumps. They will sell the supplies to go with it, such as nipples and disposable bottle liners to store the expressed breast milk. If the hospital is smaller, they might not rent breast pumps directly, but through a lactation group or mother’s group that does have the equipment for use.  Many brands cannot be reused, but the hospital grade models would be safe.


Can you return breast pumps?

  • A store might not be so willing to take back a breast pump that has been purchased in their store. Before you buy an expensive system, check with the store policy and see what their requirements are. They might take the unit back within a certain amount of days, like 7 or 14. However, since it is a product that comes in contact with body fluids, they might only take it back if it is still sealed in the container and appears to be unused. Check with the store and see if they would offer store credit or what their policy is on opened breast pumps.


Can you return breast pumps to Target?

  • Target has a policy that breast pumps can be returned within 90 days of purchase with a receipt. It doesn’t matter if the box is opened and if the machine has been used. It is considerate to clean out the unit if it has been used and to put it away like it was originally packaged. If there is a store receipt, then money will be given back. If there is no receipt, then store credit might be allowed, but you might be stuck with the system. The same goes if it has been over 90 days, then you will not be allowed to return it.


Can you reuse breast pumps?

  • There is no reason why a breast pump cannot be used in a later pregnancy for another child. When you are done using the breast pump with a baby and know you will be having more, simply clean it out so it is thoroughly sanitized. Store the unit where it is kept away from dust or excessive moisture. When you are having another baby, then clean it off again and then it should be ready to use. Check that all of the parts are still in working order and then start using it. Electric models can be sent in for professional sterilization so it is safe to use.


Can you sell used breast pumps?

  • Most models are labeled as one patient use, because there are body fluids involved. There are models, such as hospital grade models, that are safe and allowed to be resold.  However, there are some states that do not allow the breast pumps to be sold to other people as it could pose a safety risk for their baby if the device wasn’t cleaned out, etc. It is best to not sell to another person unless you are sure you have a model where it is allowed to do so safely. Check with the manufacturer if you are not sure on the status of your model.


Can you share breast pumps?

  • It is not recommended to share a breast pump with anyone, even if it is a relative. Even if the system is cleaned out between uses, there are different germs that are attached to each body and that each baby is getting used to. Attaching it to another body and then giving the milk to your baby could introduce germs that they don’t need to be introduced to. It could prove unsanitary, even if you are careful between uses with the other person. It is best to have one pump per one mother for pumping needs and to remain sanitary for expressed milk.


 Do breast pumps hurt?

  • The breast pump itself probably does not hurt. It is the condition of the nipples that can make the process of pumping milk hurt. If your nipples are sore from a baby that latches on too tight or one that nurses for long periods of time and has created cracked nipples, then adding on a breast pump after the fact will hurt. There may be some models that are more comfortable for you than others, but you would have to try them out and see which works best for you before you purchase them. Every model will rest differently on a woman’s body.


Does Aetna cover breast pumps?

  • Aetna insurance does not cover the cost of a breast pump for nursing mothers.  However, with new tax laws passed, the expenses can be used as a deduction for a medical expense if you pay for it out of pocket. Keep any receipts associated with the pump system or the accessories needed to go with it so they can be reported on your taxes at the end of the year. Since the insurance is not covering the pump, you can purchase the style and the model that you so choose and it could be manual or electric or an open or closed system.


Does BCBS cover breast pumps?

  • Depending on the group policy coverage you have, there are instances where Blue Cross and Blue Shield will pay for a breast pump. If it is not explained in your benefits booklet, then you should call the number on the back of your card and find out. If your policy does cover a breast pump, then there might be limitations on what type to purchase. The insurance might dictate if it is a rental or if you need to purchase a certain brand and model in order to be covered. Follow the instructions exactly so that you can get reimbursed if you have a policy that covers it.


Does Cigna cover breast pumps?

  • There are instances where Cigna will cover the cost of a breast pump, but certain conditions need to be met. There will be a medical need and the doctor will have to prove that the mother needs it in order for the policy to cover it. Depending on the exact policy that is in effect, only part of the pump system might be covered. There might be expenses with supplies and accessories that will need to come out of pocket. Those receipts can be stored and then used at tax time to file as medical expenses that were paid for out of pocket.


Does GHI cover breast pumps?

  • Most GHI policies do not cover the cost of a breast pump. There are a few conditions where it will be covered, but the baby needs to be in distress or in a NICU unit because of a condition or pre-term delivery. The doctor needs to prove that the baby needs the breast milk in order to thrive and that the mother needs the pump in order to do so efficiently. However, in the case of normal births, breast milk pumps are not covered. Keep the receipts and it can be used as a tax deduction at the end of the year for medical expenses.


Does Kaiser provide breast pumps?

  • Most Kaiser plans do not provide for coverage of breast pumps for babies who are healthy. There are a couple of situations where preemie babies or ones with specific medical conditions can get a breast pump for the mother, but very few. The doctor has to fill out paperwork and prove the breast pump is necessary for the baby to thrive in order for it to be approved. In normal births, it will not be approved. Keep the receipts to use the item as a tax deductible medical expense at the end of the year, along with all of the supplies needed to go with it.


Does Medicaid cover breast pumps?

  • Medicaid will cover breast pumps for women who are nursing their babies exclusively. There are some instructions that a woman must follow in order to meet the requirements of getting a breast pump for free. Medicaid only allows for a certain brand and model to be used and if it is not, then they will not pay for or reimburse for that unit you are using. Check with your local agent and see if they give out the breast pumps or if you need to purchase one and get reimbursed.  Some offices may offer rentals on breast pumps to women with jobs who can afford it.

Does Oxford cover breast pumps?

  • In most cases, Oxford does not cover the cost or providing a breast pump for nursing mothers any more. There were instances where policies did cover the expense, but they have been eliminated from new policies being created. If the policy you have is an older one where you have been with them for several years, call and check. They may have a grandfather clause where you will be allowed to purchase a breast pump and have the cost covered. On most new cases, normal births do not include the benefit of a breast pump being included with the policy.


Does Tricare cover breast pumps?

  • As a general rule, Tricare does not cover the costs associated with any type of breast pump for a breastfeeding mother. In rare cases, they will provide one where the baby’s health is in need of breast milk and the mother requires the use of one in order to provide it. However, most policies do not have this coverage. Keep the receipt and turn it in at the end of the year in order to get a tax deduction as a medical expense with the system.  It doesn’t matter what the brand or model of pump is, Tricare will not cover it unless approved for a condition.

Does UHC cover breast pumps?

  • There are certain policies that will allow for UHC to cover the expense of a breast pump. The woman and the baby must meet the conditions as stated and the policy must have it included as a benefit in order for the woman to receive it. There might be limits as to how much is covered and what model and brand may be purchased. Check with a representative to see if the policy you have will cover a breast pump before any purchase is made or an agreement with a doctor’s office is signed. Not all policies will cover the costs of accessories or supplies.


Does WIC give out breast pumps?

  • For mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding, WIC will give out breast pumps as an effort for them to do so successfully. The breast pumps are normally the Medela model that can be reused when you are finished. Check with them to see if it is a loan or if you outright own the model that has been given to you. If you are not solely breastfeeding your infant, then you will not receive a breast pump from WIC. They might offer one on loan if you can afford to pay for it in that case, so check with your representative.

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