Providence pumps up a benefit to new moms, thanks to health reform

August 09, 2013
New mothers in the Portland area will find it much easier to take home a breast pump free of charge, thanks to the Affordable Care Act and a new program offered by Providence Health & Services.

Providence has decided to make breast pumps available with direct insurance billing and no copay through all of its lactation clinics in the Portland area, starting with the Postpartum Care Center at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

The new service kicked off Aug. 1 – not coincidentally, also the start of World Breastfeeding Week and the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

“Moms were really struggling to get the pumps,” said Kellee Jamieson, manager of the Postpartum Care Center at Providence St. Vincent. “With our program, we’re able to dispense the pump on the spot with no waiting, seven days a week, holidays included.”

The health care reform law requires nearly all insurance companies to cover the full cost of a breast pump for new mothers, without any copays or deductibles, Jamieson said.

Breast pumps usually run $300, so it’s a significant benefit intended to encourage mothers to breastfeed their newborns, Jamieson said. Breast milk is highly beneficial to a new baby’s health and development, containing a rich blend of nutrients and antibodies.

Unfortunately, only a couple of Portland-area medical supply shops offered breast pumps with direct insurance billing. New mothers who obtained a pump elsewhere would end up hassling the insurance company for reimbursement or waiting a week or more for their pump to arrive in the mail, Jamieson said.

“There weren’t that many places where women can exercise this benefit, so there was a real community need,” she said.Any new mother with a prescription from their doctor will be able to obtain a breast pump through Providence, she said.

Providence will roll out the service to the rest of its breastfeeding clinics in the coming weeks, starting with the Providence Lactation Clinic and Store at 2705 E. Burnside Street, Jamieson said.

Published by the Portland Business Journal - Health Care Inc. Northwest.