Here's how to get a free breast pump through your health insurance

The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover the cost of breast pumps.

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Lisa Rabasca RoepeContributing ReporterLisa Rabasca Roepe is a contributing reporter at Policygenius, where she covers personal finance and insurance news. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Wired, Business Insider, Quartz, The Atlantic's CityLab, and the Boston Globe.

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More than 40% of baby formula products were out of stock nationwide in May, according to Datasembly, a firm that tracks out-of-stock rates for retailers. As parents scramble to find baby formula amidst a nationwide crisis, more of them might be considering breastfeeding their newborns.

Here’s some good news: Although an electric double breast pump can cost more than $200, parents can get a free breast pump through insurance.

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, your health plan must cover the cost of breast pumps, says Chrisie Rosenthal, a lactation consultant with The Lactation Network. “Prior to that, breast pumps were strictly sold off the shelf in retail stores for more than $200 each,” Rosenthal says.

Ordering your free breast pump is simple, Rosenthal says. You can go directly to a breast pump provider or call the 800-number on the back of your health insurance card, she says. If you go directly to the breast pump provider, you’ll be asked what state you live in and what your insurance is. Just be sure you’re using a reputable website such as Edgepark Breast Pumps, The Lactation Network, or Pumps for Moms. You can also order directly from breast pump manufacturers such as Medela and Ameda

Here are four ways to make obtaining a free breast pump even easier.

Order your breast pump during the third trimester

In the past, insurance companies made parents wait until the baby arrived to order a breast pump but now you can order before giving birth. Rosenthal recommends ordering the pump during your third trimester. “That will give you time to clean it, get to know it, and (learn) how to use it,” she says. 

Ask a lactation consultant for a pump recommendation

Insurance also covers the cost of an appointment with a lactation consultant so make an appointment before you order your pump so you can discuss your breastfeeding goals and your plans to return to work, Rosenthal says. The consultant can recommend the right pump for your needs and explain how to use it.

Check to see if you need a prescription

Depending on your insurance, you might be required to get a prescription or doctor’s note to receive a free breast pump, Rosenthal says. “Ordering is usually seamless but if you need a prescription or doctor’s note it can add a few days to the process,” she says. 

Determine how often you can order a new pump

Some insurance companies place restrictions on how frequently you can order a new pump, Rosenthal says. For example, some will only pay for a new pump once every two or three years while others allow you to order a new pump with each new baby, she says.

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