By Sarah Kliff
The Washington Post
The legislators who drafted Obamacare wrestled with cosmic issues of health and spending, but here's one consequence they didn't foresee: a boom in demand for breast pumps that has left some retailers scrambling to keep up.
Tucked within the Affordable Care Act is a provision requiring insurance companies to cover breast pumps and visits to lactation consultants at no cost to the patient.
Other mandated benefits, including the requirement to pay for contraceptives, drew far more attention and controversy. But when health insurance plans began resetting Jan. 1 under the new terms, it was the breast-pump clause that took off with consumers.
"We're getting a lot of calls from prospective mothers and new mothers," said Bruce Frishman, president of New Hampshire Pharmacy and Medical Equipment, a supplier based in the District of Columbia. "We've started stocking a lot more pumps that would be purchased through insurance."
Yummy Mummy, a New York boutique that specializes in breast pumps and accessories, is in the process of acquiring a warehouse and call center to accommodate the increased demand.
"I have three employees taking calls right now," owner Amanda Cole said. "We're still in the stage where we're figuring out how to add fax machines and phone lines. It's all very new to us."
Specialty suppliers like Yummy Mummy stand to benefit from the change if they manage to get on insurers' lists of approved distributors. Women who might have bought a breast pump at a local retailer are now likely to turn to their insurance plan.
Cole opened her store in 2009 but never thought about working with an insurance company until last year, when she learned of the health law's new requirement. She began to worry that if women got their breast pumps through their insurer, her store would not have any business left.