Everyone is talking about free breast pumps right now, and nursing moms everywhere can’t wait to get one.
Well mama, mine is in the mail, so I’m going to tell you how you can get one too. Scroll to the bottom of this post if you’re impatient.
*My aside: I really hate calling them free. The Affordable Care Act requires that insurance companies provide them now, and who pays for my insurance? My husband and I do. And his employer too. I’m sure that this is one of many reasons why our insurance went up quite a bit this year, not only in premiums but in copays. But that’s besides the point. And I will add that this is probably one way that our elected officials are trying to help our nation reach the goals of Healthy People 2020.
Why do I need a breast pump?
My husband initially heard about insurance covering breast pumps through NPR and immediately called me so that I could look into it. I’m still nursing exclusively and while I rarely use my pump right now, there have certainly been scenarios with each of my first two babies when I needed to pump often. If anyone needs a good pump, I do.
And I have one. It’s a high quality, $300 Medela breast pump. It’s also 8 years old and will die any day now. I’ve expected to have to purchase a new pump for the past year and a half or so, yet somehow, the thing keeps running. My old pump belonged to my sister-in-law, who used it while she was working and nursing her two children. I’ve used it for three babies and I’ve loaned it out to two other moms. That’s a total of 7 kids! I’m also passionate about breastfeeding, I’m usually able to nurse through the first year and beyond, and Lord willing, this won’t be my last baby. So I need a pump!
The painful process of trying to get a breast pump
First, I did the obvious thing and called my insurance company. The representative said that I would need to find an “in network provider” of “durable medical equipment.” She instructed me to do the following:
- Go to their website, www.bcbsnc.com and click “Find a Doctor.”
- Extend the search to within the entire US. Click “Other Facilities and Services.”
- Find companies who sell “durable medical equipment.”
- Call them to find out if they sell breast pumps and then order one for myself.
Not so much. I called a few companies on the list and none sold breast pumps. The conversations went like this.
Me: “Do you sell breast pumps?”
Them: “Respiratory pumps?”
Me: “No, BREAST pumps.”
Them: Nope, sorry.
It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Or like looking for two matching socks in my toddler’s sock drawer. It just wasn’t happening.
But no worries. The BCBS rep also gave me the phone numbers to 3 companies to call. So call them I did.
None of the companies carry breast pumps. At all. Ever.
So I called BCBS again. I told them my dilemma and was given the following excuse:
There is currently a shortage of breast pumps, so it might be hard to get one.
But I can buy one at Target? Or Walmart? Yet there’s a shortage? Maybe a shortage of pumps through their suppliers, perhaps. But even so, I could not find a single company who carried breast pumps. So I asked for help.
After much searching, she found a company who sells pumps and has some in stock. The BCBS rep put me on the phone with the company. The rest was easy peasy.
How can you score a breast pump without all the headache?
If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would just call the medical supply company directly. They will contact your insurance to make sure it’s covered and do all of the work for you. They’ll also make sure that you only get a pump that is covered by your insurance, because they don’t want to lose money on the deal.
- Call a supplier of durable medical equipment that sells breastpumps. My insurance company put me in touch with Edgepark. Note that their website says they are only ordering pumps over the phone.
- Give them basic information, such as your name, phone number, address, birth date of your baby, insurance data, and the name and phone number of your doctor. I gave her my OB/Gyn’s name instead of my PCP because he’s my favorite doctor, I know him pretty well personally, and since he delivers my kids, he knows I breastfeed for at least a year.
- Sit back and wait. Edgepark said that it will take 3-5 days to confirm my information through the insurance company and obtain a prescription from my doctor. Then it will take 3-5 days for processing and shipping.
My pump is the Medela one shown on this page, and that’s a picture of my actual pump at the top of this page. I’m really excited that it’s a Medela because I’ve loved using their pumps. Their hospital grade pump is excellent and did a great job of helping me maintain my supply when my newborn had surgery and couldn’t eat. My old Medela pump has also been so durable that my husband and I both think very highly of their company. I’m also used to their products and find it difficult and confusing when I’ve had to use an Ameda or any other pump.
Do check out Edgepark’s FAQ page if you’ve got any questions. It was worth the hassle and all of the phone calls to get a *free $300 breast pump.
Are you planning on getting a new breast pump now that they’re covered by insurance? If you’ve already ordered yours, what did you think of the process? What company did you go through? We’d love to hear any tips or advice.