Now that the American Health Care Act has been voted through the House of Representatives and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act seems more probable, mothers across the country are worrying about how American health care reform could affect the cost of raising children. If Trumpcare actually replaces the ACA, pregnant women and moms with infants could lose several important breastfeeding rights and benefits, making an already-difficult endeavor both more expensive and more difficult. But just how much would pumping cost under the AHCA?
That depends, of course, on a couple of things. Until the House of Representatives and the Senate decide on a final version of the act, we won't know for sure, but at the moment, there are a couple of important ACA protections and benefits that could come under fire.
The Affordable Care Act changed things for the better for moms in 2010 in two major ways. First of all, it required that insurers across the country provide coverage for both lactation support and breast pumps for new moms. Second, it required that all companies with over 50 employees provide moms with a private area for breast pumping — bathroom stalls wouldn't cut it — along with sufficient break time for expressing milk.
Under the AHCA, all of that could change. According to the Brookings Institution, the AHCA would allow states to define their own essential health benefits, meaning states could decide individually whether insurers would have to include maternity care, lactation support, and breast pumps in their coverage. The AHCA would also allow states to opt out of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, meaning some insurers could go back to their pre-ACA ways of listing pregnancy as a pre-existing condition and charge pregnant women higher premiums.
So far, the AHCA hasn't explicitly mentioned workplace pumping protections, which leaves their future uncertain at the moment. However, if moms lost their rights to private spaces and sufficient break time for pumping at work, it could severely affect their ability to breastfeed their children.
So, pregnancy premiums aside, how much could pumping potentially cost under Trumpcare? According to the Bump, breast pumps can cost anywhere from $50 (for a simple hand-held pump) to well over $1000 (for a hospital-grade pump). FitPregnancy places the average cost of a single visit to a lactation consultant at around $70. And if workplace protections were stripped, some women might have to start feeding their babies formula sooner than desired in order to go back to work, which could cost them an extra $60 to $100 a month.
There are many benefits to breastfeeding, and the United States has come a long way in protecting moms' ability to breastfeed their children. If you're concerned about how breastfeeding could change under the AHCA, make sure to contact your senator and make your feelings known.