There Is No Such Thing As A Free Breast Pump

How do you make purchasing decisions when you don’t have to worry about money: indeed, when money doesn’t enter into it at all? That’s what’s happening now in the market for breast milk pumps now that health insurance companies are required to cover them for new mothers. Stores can’t keep them on the shelves: basic models, fancy models, all kinds of breast pumps. Even mothers who already own pumps are getting new ones covered by insurance because hey, they’re free.

The Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare, if you insist) requires insurers to pay for the pumps because of evidence that babies raised on human milk have better health and don’t need to visit the doctor as much. In theory, this will mean cost savings for insurance companies overall. In practice, since the requirement just went into effect, it means that everyone is out of breast pumps. If every American family with a new baby can get a pump, whether they actually need one right now or not, this wrecks that whole “supply and demand” thing that you might have learned about in economics.

Of course, nothing that insurance pays for is ever free. We went over this point in both the post and comments when a reader had a coverage dispute with his insurance company over a $300 breast pump. The government mandates coverage for breast pumps, but can they be cheaper manual ones? How about the cost of renting a heavy-duty mechanical one and buying replaceable tubing?

Free Breast Pumps And The Cost Of Health Care [NPR]

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