Wednesday, April 17, 2013

OHD and KUTV Video about Breastfeeding and the Affordable Care Act

 Breast Feeding and the Affordable Care Act |

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies breastfeed until they are at least one year-old. However, about one out of 3 Utah mothers have already stopped breastfeeding 2-6 months postpartum and racial and ethnic minority groups have even lower breastfeeding rates.

The Affordable Care Act law which is now in place has potential to address many of the barriers to breastfeeding that minority Utahns have described to us, such as:

·        Problems balancing breastfeeding and employment

·        Lack of professional help to address pain and latching problems

·        Expense of breast pumps

Breastfeeding Laws in the Affordable Care Act

Expressing Milk at the Workplace

Break Time for Pumping Milk

·         Employers must allow breastfeeding employees to take breaks to pump breast milk.

·         Employers must accommodate a reasonable amount of break time as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. The frequency of breaks needed to express milk as well as the duration of each break will likely vary. 

·         These federal protections last until the employee’s baby is one year-old.

Space for Pumping Milk

·         Employers must provide breastfeeding employees with a private location to pump, other than the bathroom.

·         Requiring employees to pump in the bathroom is not allowed by the law.

·         Creating a designated room to express milk is one way to comply with the law.  A space that is used for other purposes, such as an office, may also meet this requirement as long as it is available whenever the nursing mom needs it, shielded from view and free from any intrusion from co-workers and the public.

Workplace Exemptions

·         Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for an exemption if they can demonstrate that compliance causes undue hardship.  Otherwise, they are required to comply.

·         Employees who are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act are not covered by this law.

Health Insurance Coverage for Breastfeeding Support and Supplies

Lactation Counseling

·         Health plans must cover comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers without co-pays.

Breast Pumps

·          Health plans must cover rental or purchase of breast pumps without co-pays.

  • Rental pumps are hospital-grade electric machines like this one.
  • They are more powerful than a personal pump, collecting milk more quickly and effectively than personal pumps.
  •  It is actually only the motor that is shared.  Each mother must buy her own attachments, which are the parts of the pump that touch a mother’s breasts and milk.  Hospital-grade pumps are designed to prevent contamination across multiple users.

o   Some insurers are giving mothers the option of buying a personal pump instead of renting a hospital-grade pump.

  •  Personal pumps may be manual or powered by electricity or batteries.
  •  Manual pumps do not require batteries or electricity, but many women find it difficult to use them.
  •  Electric and battery-powered pumps are more efficient than manual pumps, but less so than hospital-grade pumps.  They are not designed to last as long as hospital-grade pumps and will wear out over time.  However, they are more portable than hospital-grade pumps.

Health Insurance Exemptions

·         Some health plans that existed prior to health reform are “grandfathered” and not required to offer these breastfeeding supplies and services.

·         Health insurance plans vary in the types of pumps and lactation counseling offered.  Many health plans have rules about preferred providers and distributors or other limitations.  Check with your health plan for details about your coverage.

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