The following is from my younger sister and occasional guest poster, Teresa Ward. She thought she could share after she was happily surprised!
As Crystal announced, my husband and I are expecting our first child this year! While we couldn’t be more excited, I am daunted at the LONG list of items we need to purchase before our son’s birth. One of the biggest ticket items – although not a strict necessity for all mothers – was a breast pump as I plan to breastfeed for several months and would like my husband to be involved.
After realizing on Amazon that breast pumps vary widely in price all the way up to $300, I heavily researched them before making a purchase.
Happily, I discovered my medical insurance covered mine 100%!!! Yes – I actually ended up ordering TWO FREE breast pumps that my insurance will cover (totaling $400 retail, a little less than $300 discounted or online). The best part – delivery to my front door before my son is even born!
The Steps I Followed
I wanted to share the process to make sure any parent who qualifies for the same benefit didn’t pay out of pocket for this very expensive baby product! Not all insurance companies and plans are as generous, but it never hurts to ask. (And my understanding is that certain new US healthcare laws have required insurance companies to cover breast pumps to some degree, but that’s a completely different post.)
Steps to Use Insurance Benefits to Purchase Breast Pump(s):
Contact your medical insurance company and inquire about what your plan does or doesn’t include. Ask for any exceptions (like only purchasing from the insurance company’s durable medical supply store) or limitations (like only being able to rent a pump versus buy one or a maximum amount the insurance company will cover). TIP FOR THE BUSY – If you cannot call the insurance company during business hours, just send them an email requesting the same information, including your name, policy number, and date of birth!
If your insurance does cover a breast pump(s), ask them about the steps to obtain one. You will mostly likely need to contact the associated medical durable supply stores and see which pumps, if any, are available (again, you can call, email, or even just check their website).
Read reviews of the various breast pumps offered and make a selection. Amazon is a great source of reviews, as are your medical providers, online articles, recent breast feeding mothers, and nursing books.
Order your choice in breast pump from the medical supply store, giving the company your medical insurance and doctor’s information. At this point, they will NOT ask for your credit card information.
Wait for the durable medical supply store to contact your insurance to have your pump approved. Often, the insurance company will require a doctor’s note/prescription for the pump, which the medical store will obtain from your doctor. You might be able to speed this process up by requesting a prescription yourself from the doctor and submitting it to the medical supply store, but I figured that was part of the beauty of ordering one thru a medical supply store – less work for me!
The durable medical supply store will contact you to discuss your insurance’s coverage. If your insurance covers your pump 100%, they will let you know they are shipping it to you at no charge. If your insurance covers part of the pump or had other questions, they will also let you know at this time. Be sure to ask questions, as the durable medical supply store reps are typically very helpful.
Hopefully – wait for your pump to show up at your doorstep. Storks don’t bring babies, but I like to imagine storks dropping off free pumps to expectant mothers!
How my process went:
First, I called up my medical insurance provider (which is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas on an employer PPO Plan); typically insurance companies list a customer service phone number on the back of insurance cards. Keep this card handy, as both the insurance and durable supply equipment companies will need your policy number. After a short wait, a service representative informed me that my plan actually covered TWO breast pumps under the amount of $150 each per calendar year, to be purchased from one of their durable equipment medical suppliers (which is just a fancy term for medical stores that my insurance companies work with). I was a bit concerned that those companies might not have the brands of pumps I was interested in, much less any pumps at all, but the service rep let me know both Edgepark Medical Supply (https://www.edgepark.com) and Byram Healthcare (https://www.byramhealthcare.
I checked both websites, and ended up placing an order from Edgepark from both a FREEMIE Hands-free Deluxe and a MEDELA Pump In Style Advanced breast pump. Edgepark has very generous hours if you need to call them (they even answer the phone on Saturdays) and has quite a selection of pumps. I ordered both at the same time, as both were highly reviewed online and in my baby book research. Not only do I have a back-up in case one breaks, but inevitably I will prefer one over the other so I figured I would give myself options! I will try to post later my reviews of each if Crystal will let me 😉 . (From Crystal – Of course!)
Two days after I placed my order, Edgepark contacted me via email, asking me to call them. Nervous that I was not covered somehow afterall, I called and to my excitement, they confirmed all my information and informed me that my insurance should cover them 100%. They were going to process my order and send the pumps to me, unless anything else came up with the insurance company. They did NOT ask for any billing information and won’t unless the insurance company denies the order for any reason.
I am now waiting on my much anticipated order to arrive. For the little effort I put into this process (2 short phone calls and 1 easy online order form), I will call this insurance benefit a HUGE WIN!
So to get the message out loud and clear – please, please contact your medical insurance BEFORE you purchase a breast pump if you live in the US. It’s worth the short phone call to save a lot of money on a product you may only use for a year or less. Do NOT purchase your pump from any store until you contact your insurance company – they will NOT reimburse purchases from non-medical supply stores or those they don’t work with. I would recommend contacting the insurance company a few months before your due date, as shipping, obtaining prescriptions, and even just ordering takes time! Best of luck in your thrifty endeavors!
Hope this helps some of you too!
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 a year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, a rental home, and professional pet sitting. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. This all gives me the time to be with my aging family members, the flexibility to stay close with my friends and family, and it should help if we finally get pregnant too! Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!