January 5, 2013

"The breast pump industry is booming, thanks to Obamacare."

"Tucked within the Affordable Care Act is a provision requiring insurance companies to cover 'the costs of renting breastfeeding equipment'..."
“The law states that we must provide rental pumps,” said UnitedHealthcare spokesman Matthew Stearns. “These pumps are hospital-grade, and they are larger, harder to clean and more expensive than personalized pumps for women. We are providing women the option of getting a personal pump in lieu of renting the more-expensive pump.”
People will do what is incentivized. If breastfeeding is — as we've been told — extremely beneficial to the new baby (and the old baby?), then we ought to want to encourage women to do it. We can't force them to do it, but what we can do is make it easier. I'm very interested in the way the health-care law is going to be a mechanism for manipulating human behavior. By requiring the offering of something that feels like a gift, the government manages the moods of women who would be outraged — rightly outraged — to be told they must breastfeed.

Let's say, now that we're all becoming so involved in the overall economics of healthcare, that we wanted to boost the health of the babies in the insurance pool by making every mother breastfeed (unless she can't and gets a doctor's excuse note). You couldn't simple mandate breastfeeding, because it's too intimately concerned with the woman's body. You'd be violating her rights, but you wouldn't even reach that legal question, because it would be too politically ugly to go there. How about imposing higher health-care premiums for women who have babies, then choose not to breastfeed? That's also unpleasant. And how would you spy on women to check what they were doing? You could slap some big tax on baby formula, but that punishes even the women who can't breastfeed, and it nudges people to buy some alternative product — milk being an obvious substitution.

So make the pumps free so the manipulation feels good.

And here's a business sector that will do fabulously well: the pump-makers. The politicians score triply: 1. Female service to baby health is harnessed, 2. Women feel happy about getting things, and 3. A business booms.

ADDED: Times have really changed:
I remember in the early 70s, Ms. Magazine, in its early days, constantly attacked La Leche League, a pro-breastfeeding group. It was considered anti-feminist at the time to encourage women to breastfeed. Breastfeeding promoters had an ulterior motive (according to Ms.): keeping women at home.
The pump is a device to obscure this criticism. It represents a weird kind of freedom. This human organism needs your body, frequently, but you can get your distance if you attach yourself, diligently and efficiently, to the electrical suction machine. The aesthetics of breastfeeding are radically transformed. The leisure and the ease of natural breastfeeding while tending to various household tasks are superseded by a busy schedule stacked with duties — going to work, getting through work while slotting in the regular suctioning of the mammaries, getting home, taking care of all the same household tasks, and slotting in some time to bond with the child. Was this worth it? Hey, don't be glum. Here's a present for you: A milk-extraction machine. Happy?


Anonymous said...

People will do what is incentivized. If breastfeeding is — as we've been told — extremely beneficial to the new baby (and the old baby?), then we ought to want to encourage women to do it.

That, or the best pump manufacturers hired good lobbyists and potential the benefits to the officers and shareholders was the only real concern.

Obamacare is a disaster because the "science" will surely arise from the potential profit.

Astro said...

"A business booms."

Politicians have no understanding of the 'broken window fallacy'; they've never heard of Frédéric Bastiat.

Rusty said...

Breast pumps for everyone!!!!

Just put that on my Federal Reserve credit card my good man. Now, who wants a cell phone?

AllenS said...

Ever heard of a nipple?

Hagar said...

And a breastpump is a medical device and subject to the surtax on such devices.
Win again!

Oso Negro said...

Ann, I am going to bet that it is a short-lived boom as inventories of breast pumps are amassed, which are subsequently NOT used by mothers. The average woman is interested more in her own convenience than the incremental difference in well-being of her infant that may derive from breast milk versus formula. Leaky boobs with cracked, chapped nipples is inconvenient. The women with the severity required to breast feed while being away from the infant so routinely as to need a pump don't need the government to give them one for free.

ddh said...

And thus the personal question of whether a mother breastfeeds enters the realm of politics. The personal becomes the political.

chickelit said...

My wife called breastfeeding natural liposuction and a way to lose post-partum weight. I'm surprised more women don't latch-on.

Titus said...


Titus said...

My hindu hubby tit fed his mommy until he was like really old-something like 10. He said that is normal in India.

Astro said...

Express yourself!

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

The incentive won't work on the intended demographic, the Taco Bell crowd.

Live Más

john said...

Let's say, now that we're all becoming so involved in the overall economics of healthcare,...

Wow, you think you snuck a dependent clause in there, didn't you? Sorry, just not true.

The general understanding of the economics of health care in this country is at a level of a 8 year old girl writing out her Christmas list to Santa Claus.

pm317 said...

In the federal facility I used to work, there was a room, regular office room marked Mother's room or something like that. But that was before Obamacare.

john said...

Rufus is a tit man
Suckin' on his mamma's gland
Suckin' on the nipple
It's a sweeter than the ripple wine.
Yes its sweeter than the wine.
You can tell by the way the boy burps
that it's gotta taste fine.

Marco Polo craved the spice and silk
And Rufus craves the mamma's milk
No moo-cow no billy-goat
Is gonna get the baby's vote.
Come on mamma,
Come on and open up your shirt
Yeah you've got the goods mamma
Give the little boy a squirt.

For my lungs and my liver
I do definitely fear.
I like to suck on cigarettes
And drink the wine and beer.
The doctor says I'm oral
And I believe it's true, I believe its true.
Ah son you look so satisfied
I envy you.

So put Rufus on the left one
And put me right on the right
And like Romulus and Remus
We'll suck all night.
Come on mamma
Come on and lactate awhile.
Yeah look down on us mamma
And flash us a Madonna smile.

john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fritz said...

"The general understanding of the economics of health care in this country is at a level of a 8 year old girl writing out her Christmas list to Santa Claus."

Dear Santa, I want Justine Beiber, birth control, a pony...

chickelit said...

Titus said...
My hindu hubby tit fed his mommy until he was like really old-something like 10. He said that is normal in India.

Certain mammals are venerated in India.

MayBee said...

This wasn't tucked inside. I mentioned this requirement constantly during the Obamacare contraception debates. It makes it even more incredible the condoms were not covered.

We need to be wary of how far the economics of public health is going to push us. I think this is one step over the cliff.

AllenS said...

Children should be breast fed for only about a week. That way they'll get that needed colostrum. We have, in this country, a very large dairy herd and children can get their milk from the cow. Boys should be introduced to beer at about age 10 to 12.

AllenS, MD

Shouting Thomas said...

Forget it. Fait Accompli! It's all over folks. The whole purpose of Obamacare was to dramatically restructure the relationship of the government to the governed.

There's going to be a steady stream of bitching. It's pointless.

Boys should be introduced to beer at about age 10 to 12.

That's what grandpas are for!

SarcastiCarrie said...

Until WIC stops supplying formula, you won't get full breastfeeding participation.

jungatheart said...

I imagine the ultimate goal is to save government money on the price of formula.

Paddy O said...

I know a lot more about breast feeding than I would have ever thought likely.

Times have certainly changed. Breast feeding is seen as not only the more natural but also the better solution. Nutrients are one thing, but also antibodies and suchlike. My wife breast feeds and also pumps. Why the latter? Well, at first because she would be in a lot of pain if she didn't. Once she started breast feeding, the milk was like a torrent, and the baby wasn't drinking enough.

Now, it's about having a bit of freedom in our lives. Breast-feeding is great, but it ties the baby to the momma constantly. So, bottles with breast milk and a kindly grandparent give us some time away.

I have a good friend who just had twins. The babies wouldn't latch on, so she actually is one of those who rent a bigger dual pump, so the babies get the milk.

The alternative is formula and formula is crazy expensive, especially as it's not nearly as good as breast milk itself.

AllenS is right about the beer, though.

edutcher said...

I sense a whole new genre of porn coming.

Tank said...

Doesn't the pump deprive the baby of an important aspect of breast feeding?

The milk is not the only thing a baby gets from breast feeding.

MayBee said...

I am pro-breast feeding and fine with pumps.

I am against the government requiring, for some reason, that we must all pay for insurance that covers breast pumps.

Phil 314 said...

An essential problem with covering durable medical equipment (DME) is that you can mandate coverage but you can't mandate use. That's why there are so many CPAP machines gathering dust in the closet.

And the usual "solution" to the "unintended" consequences is to: 1) mandate coverage 2) have no or a minimal copay 3) reimburse the vendor at 20 cents on the dollar.

And voila, you get a shortage. Problem solved (meaning you've covered the service and now have a new straw man, greedy breast pump makers)

MayBee said...

The government is not giving away anything for free.

It is not the government's money being spent. That's the new trick of Obamacare. They mandate what we have to pay for out of our own pockets.

Perhaps if they'd made buying pumps available through WIC it would have made more sense.

chickelit said...

edutcher said...
I sense a whole new genre of porn coming.

Silicone-fed digital manipulation?

William said...

This is not my area of greatest expertise, but there seems something mechanical and impersonal about this. The mother is not feeding the baby, but feeding the pump. The circuit of intimacy and union between baby and mother is broken.

Unknown said...

Imagine how shocked the founders would be to see that we're all plunging over the fiscal cliff and one of the reasons is breast pumps.
And code pink and the band of merry dancing vaginas is worried about conservative obsession with their uterus. All our functions are now belong to government.

Sorun said...

ObamaCare is medicine designed by a committee of lawyers. We're all fucked.

Michael K said...

" Blogger chickelit said...

My wife called breastfeeding natural liposuction and a way to lose post-partum weight. I'm surprised more women don't latch-on. "

Just don't do it if caught out in a blizzard. A woman in Oregon was hiking with her husband and her new baby, which she breast fed. A blizzard came. They were lost. She and the baby went into a snow cave while he went for help. When they found her, she was dead but the baby was fine. Breast feeding transferred her warmth to the baby and she froze.

Titus said...

I believe it would be easier if the women would take her shirt off, get on all fours, put a bucket under her tits and just pull them-like a cow.

It could be a family event too and safe money on the pump.

We have a tit pump room in our office. It has a comfortable chair, nice lighting, music, etc. One of our employees was caught sleeping in their and the tit pumper was pissed.

Seeing Red said...

Bedbug Bloomie already covered this.

To encourage breastfeeding, the formula is harder to get at the hospital so the mother has to breastfeed.

One lady complained her kid wasn't fed for 48 hours.

It's for the children, don'tcha know.

Shouting Thomas said...

I believe it would be easier if the women would take her shirt off, get on all fours, put a bucket under her tits and just pull them-like a cow.

I agree. This is clearly the solution!

Albatross said...

La Leche League shames women into breastfeeding, and they are not very subtle about it.

My wife could not produce enough milk for our first baby, and in the first ten days of his life he did not gain a single ounce while breastfeeding. The LLL consultant told her she was doing it wrong, and kept telling her that, over and over again even though we were following her advice as best we could. The baby was trying to feed every two or three hours because he was not getting enough, so my wife wasn't able to get any sleep either.

Eventually our pediatrician got through to my wife and told her to start using formula. The baby gained weight, he didn't need to feed as often, and I could actually give him late night feedings so mommy could get some much needed sleep.

We haven't listed to LLL's harping since.

Jane the Actuary said...

Oh, please -- let's get back to some sensible discussion.

Think of the economics: there's pretty much one manufacturer of high-end breastpumps, Medela. Up to now, they had to set a price based on the willingness of women to pay. Now health insuerers have to pay, regardless. What's to stop Medela from charging $1000 rather than $250 per pump.

Also, consider that coverage of pumps is required universally -- not just for working moms. So every mom is going to take advantage, even if it's just for convenience rather than need. And Medela insists these are one-time-use items, that is, they're not supposed to be sold second-hand. So there's enormous waste in this requirement -- waste of money and waste of physical products, which will sit in landfills.

bagoh20 said...

Orwell missed the real the power play: Oceania's Ministry of Health Care. That's the shortcut to control in our modern world.

bagoh20 said...

I don't know what the concern is - there are never any unintended consequences to this kind of stuff. It always works out great.

Bob Boyd said...

President Obama is a breast pump.

Synova said...

The medical grade pumps might be better. I nursed and used a little breast pump and using the pump basically meant "dry up".

TMI, I know.

Synova said...

"The baby was trying to feed every two or three hours because he was not getting enough, so my wife wasn't able to get any sleep either."

For what it's worth... there were times my son nursed every hour and a half when he wasn't sleeping... basically, nursed whenever he wasn't sleeping. Not always, but right before a growth spurt he'd nurse that frequently.

I'm not saying your wife shouldn't have used formula. Use formula if you like, no worries. But nursing every three hours isn't enough to signal to your body to produce more milk. Three hours between nursing was the normal time for me, but it would be punctuated by a week or two of needing to nurse every hour and a half.

Yes, you don't get any sleep. That's how it works.

Wince said...

A new federal "milk subsidy" program.

Synova said...

"To encourage breastfeeding, the formula is harder to get at the hospital so the mother has to breastfeed."

My third baby (the first not at an Air Force hospital) was 5 weeks early and given sugar water because "we had to be sure she could swallow."

For a MONTH it took me 15 minutes to get her to latch on. Had this been my first child I'd have been convinced that "I just can't breastfeed." She'd push the nipple out with her tongue, over and over and over and over.

Dumb ass hospital!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CWJ said...

EDH Thread winner

Anonymous said...

Synova is right, often babies nurse hourly in the beginning, stimulates milk production and gives the baby enough time to get fed. Some babies are slow feeders at first, some like to simply be attached to the breast, doze, suckle a bit, doze, etc.

Breast feeding isn't easy and natural for many first time mothers.

I'm glad that new moms will have decent breast pumps., since many need to work to keep a roof over their heads. I don't think this is too big a contribution from the rest of us. I don't like the idea of having to pay for broken limbs because some dumbass had to go ice skating, or skiing, or bicycling, etc. the feeding of America's babies trumps. Having babies is a noble thing to do, as our birth rate is plummeting. So why not reward them wit a breast pump?;)

Don't even get me started on those who smoke.

In my oh so lefty opinion anyway.

CWJ said...

I know commenters wanted to discuss breastfeeding. But seriously, why is this in a bill ostensibly meant to address the problem of the uninsured? We know the answer, but what is the justification? And wny this rather than something else?

Obamacare is corrupt on its face.

john said...

If someone rewarded me with a breast pump, I can do my part to slow our plummeting birth rate! Who will join with me in this endeavor?

Thanks Inga for showing us how lefty politics works.

SGT Ted said...

Why does every fucking trade off a woman willingly makes in her life have to be subsidized by other people?

Anonymous said...

John, with all the concern voiced here by Althousians about the scary plummeting birth rate, a person might think that making things a bit easier for women to have children wouldn't be such a huge issue. Don't you want well fed chubby cherubic babies in America? Sheesh.

I could say people should stop engaging in dangerous sports, stop smoking, lose weight, etc etc etc. why should I have to subsidize some people's lifestyle and poor choices?

Anonymous said...

SGT Ted, that bagpipe could give ya emphysema or something, maybe asthma. ;)

Tari said...

It's idiocy to force insurance companies to cover pumps, but don't knock them: both my boys had trouble breastfeeding and I fell back on the pump pretty much exclusively for both of them. I knew I was going back to work anyway, so why not? They were (and are) thin, healthy and happy boys. In fact, between breast milk and having a nanny (aka, not going to daycare) my older one was 7 months old before he had so much as a cold. The pump actually made going back to work easier; I could turn off the phone several times a day and think "I may be getting absolutely nothing productive done here today, but at least I'm doing something for the baby." That was nice. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

SGT Ted said...

Nope, keeps the lungs strong.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Or, ya could just do it the old fashion way - let the kid suck it out. Costs nothing.

shirley elizabeth said...

Being a young mother (at least for my generation) I am constantly told by other young mothers that I "totally need to get on WIC" or I probably qualify and should at least try, they could probably get me on. And why am I not on AHCCCS? All of the time. They do not realize how offensive this is to me.

A couple of weeks ago these same types were raving on facebook about how awesome it was that insurance companies HAD to give them a breast pump. Win! When I questioned the need for breast feeding to be covered it was met with

"I'm already paying $$ for my premiums so I'm taking advantage of it!" (nevermind that if YOU were actually paying for it you would see your premium increase by the amount of the pump)

"Some of us need a great pump an don't have the money to get them" (just like you needed your macbook and iphone? and nevermind that you knew of this 12 months ago and didn't consider it enough of a need to save each month in order to afford it. Oh right, you were paying for your data plan)

"I think it has something to do with the fact that all healthcare professionals agree that breastfeeding is the best option, when possible. This might promote health for little babies." (Insurance. This is INSURANCE. Doctors also think it's best to bathe your kids regularly. My family cannot afford our premiums going up because people cry about wanting free things.)

Also, I don't need a fancy breast pump because I work from home. When will they start enabling breastfeeding moms by giving computers? Or should I work out of the home on a company's computer and then get the breast pump and daycare on top of that? And then as they grow they can get into state-sponsored preschool for two years before K-12 education. And of course after hours daycare. Oh and they'll need to be fed. Because I'm a working mom.

Steven said...

Nutrients are one thing, but also antibodies and suchlike.

After the colostrom phase, the entirety of the benefits of breastfeeding over formula to the baby is a fractionally lower rate of transient intestinal upsets. There is no nutritional benefit, no beyond-the-intestine immune benefit, and no other health benefit.

The purpose of breast pumps, accordingly, is simply to indicate the mother in question works at a job important enough she can't bring in her baby but physically undemanding enough that she can take breaks during the workday for reasons other than physical recuperation.

Forcing health insurance to subsidize breast pumps is as fully stupid a policy measure as having health insurance subsidize the upgrade from a Toyota to a BMW for new mothers.

Sam L. said...

Feminists hate other women. Moms, perhaps, more than others.

bardseyeview said...

Some mothers' nipples are inverted and the baby can have trouble latching on. Breast pumps have a natural application there, and plenty of women want to keep breastfeeding after they go back to work, so they pump and refrigerate, and take it home.

Plenty of uses separate from the desire to keep your baby at a safe distance.

Government-mandated coverage, though? Why? You can buy a top-notch breast pump for $250, and I imagine you can rent for six months or so for less.

Penny said...

Where are the creative aftermarket geniuses in all of this?

If a woman gets a FREE breast pump, and the next woman gets a FREE breast pump, both will throw them out when they are done having kids.

But what if someone figured out how to repurpose the parts of those $1000 breast pumps into something else that's useful?

Frugal moms will even clean up the pumps to turn them over for ten to twenty bucks.

And five years later? I suspect the creative aftermarket genius will be getting brand spanking new breast pumps.

Private enterprise success smells SO sweet.

DS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DS said...

My insurance company gave me a rebate on my pump 6 years ago. I didn't understand why more companies did not do pay for the pumps. While I was working, my children went to daycare and I was able to pump. My daughter had only one sick doctor visit for an ear infection and my son had no sick visits. I lost all my baby weight and some more weight in a few months. A healthy Mom and baby is an insurance win. For those who ask about the bonding, don't worry most pumping Moms spend plenty time nursing at night and weekends unless pumping is medically necessary. Most baby experts recommend that the baby has one bottle of pumped milk a day to make sure the baby will learn to take a bottle in case the Mom has to be away. It also allows Dad to bond with baby and gives Mom a break. This is even helpful when Mom is a stay at home Mom. Being a nursing Mom is hard work and I don't appreciate the sick comments about breastfeeding. Grow up.

Birches said...

I love how the lefties love CHOICE, but not when it comes to feeding your baby.

I think nursing is easier and cheaper for most people, but its a complete lie about IQ levels btw breastfed and formula fed babies (and infection rates if the baby was breast fed at all). In the studies, they don't weight for socioeconomic status. And as one poor woman we were friends with put it, "That's why God made bottles." Poor women are more likely to formula feed because of culture.

Riddle me this: if Formula was destined to make kids dumber and sick and inferior to breastfed babies, how come adopted kids correlate with their adoptive parents IQs instead of their biological.

Its nuture people!

Unknown said...

What the heck happened in 18 years? I thought I was cutting edge because I used a manual breast pump at work. Cost about $20.00. What do you get for $250.00?

Unknown said...

PS Being a mom is hard work. Being a nursing mom is no different. It might even be easier.

DEEBEE said...

The socialization of cost benefit analysis of medical care, gets a Lance Armstrong boost.

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DS said...

This give away will not be enough incentive to encourage moms to breast feed. It is a lot like giving away exercise equipment. After a while it becomes a clothes rack for most folks. Nursing is a difficult task. Pumping is even more difficult. Most women don't want to do it. I estimated that I spent at least 4 hr/day on nursing, pumping and cleaning the pumping accessories. It was a labor of love. The research may be wrong on intelligence but who wants to take a chance?
There are breast pumps that can be resold. They are by Ameda $174.69 on amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Ameda-Purely-Yours-Breast-Pump/dp/B000ME3146

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