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Ruth Vasquez's picture

Generally the Latino culture promotes the healthy habit of breastfeeding babies until their first year of life. But upon arriving to the United States we find barriers to nursing, which impact our own health, but most of all, that of our children.

There are varying reasons for these challenges whether they be language barriers that keep a mom from working, or a nurse at a hospital that doesn't encourage a mother to latch until her milk comes in, or workplaces that don't offer family leave.  When it comes to family leave, the United States is very different from the majority of Latin American countries that typically offer six months to a year of leave.

In addition to these obstacles, there are costs associated with breast pumps, the only way a working mother can continue to nurse. For their ability to pump the most milk in a short period of time, the most effective breast pumps are the electric ones, which can cost more than $300. 

The good news is the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare", requires that health plans offer breastfeeding support, which may include the cost of purchase/rental of breast pumps and lactation support services. This coverage could save nursing mothers hundreds of dollars! For a complete listing of all the health insurance plans and what they offer in terms of support for breastfeeding mothers, please see National Breastfeeding Center's score card.

However, the law does have loopholes that will perhaps be closed in the future. For now, the law does not say which breast pumps will be subsidized or how much coverage a health insurance company must provide.

For example, some health insurance companies like Cigna cover breast pump rentals at the same price as market value. Blue Cross Blue Shield states on its website that it covers only the price of the breast pump, while United Healthcare lets us know on its official website that it covers the costs for select breast pumps, electrical or manual.If you plan to have children and haven't enrolled in the Health Insurances Marketplace, consider this coverage as you select a plan. And if you have already enrolled, share with us how much coverage for nursing services that you have!

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