Insurance + breastfeeding or formula feeding your baby: what’s covered?

Sometimes paying for insurance can feel like a massive waste of money. You pay them every month and they do everything in their power to get out of helping you out with medical expenses. Sigh. 

Well, we can’t change the whole system (burn it to the ground and start over, we say), but we can make it easier for our Moms to get pregnancy and postpartum essentials covered by insurance. Knowledge is power, so let’s chat about what you’re entitled to and how to get it.  

If you’re breastfeeding…

Hoping to breastfeed? Nice. Breastfeeding has so many benefits for baby and Mom, even if you only do it for a limited time or supplement with formula. But contrary to what people say about breastfeeding being free, it’s *kinda* not. 

Sure, compared to formula, breastfeeding is relatively inexpensive, but there are still some must-haves you’ll need and those must-haves can add up quickly. 

The good news is that most insurance plans will help cover some of those costs. Let’s talk about what you can get through insurance and how to go about getting your nursing supplies covered.

Breast pumps

Breast pumps are incredibly helpful if you plan to breastfeed. Not only can they help boost your milk supply and keep both tatas producing at peak levels, but they can also make it possible for you to go back to work or have your partner bottle feed while you get some much-needed sleep.

Your insurance company is required to cover some or all of the rental or purchase costs of a breast pump. That said, the type of pump, length of rental covered, and how much of the cost is covered will vary from insurance to insurance and plan to plan. 

How do you know what your plan covers? Well, you can always dig through your insurance plan details or make a call to an insurance agent and stare at the wall while you listen to the world’s worst hold music. Or you could *attempt* to get some help through your insurance company’s in-app chat box. That’s if you’re into doing things the hard way. 

Screenshots of real convo I suffered through the *one time* I tried using the in-app chat box

If you’d rather just get the perks without the pains of actually dealing with insurance, your best bet is to go through the insurance-savvy nerds here at Bump Boxes. They geek out over these things and get all kinds of fuzzy feelings when they take care of the hassle of insurance for our Moms. 

All you have to do is head to our free breast pump application and fill out the form. We’ll need some insurance info, so have your card ready. 

Within minutes, you’ll know if you’re a match with Bump Boxes or one of our partners. Either way, you’ll simply pick out the breast pump you’d like while our team (or our partner’s team) gets to work on getting a prescription from your doctor and submitting everything to your insurance company. 

Now, for the really good news: Even if you decide you don’t want the free or most discounted pump but want to upgrade to a pump that better fits your lifestyle and needs, insurance should still cover some of the cost. 

Let’s say your insurance plan only covers a manual pump but you want a double electric you can charge in your car. No problem. Simply upgrade when you select your pump. You’ll still pay less than you would if you didn’t go through insurance. 

What could throw a wrench in the process of getting your free or discounted breast pump through Bump Boxes or a partner?

Let’s say you match with us or a partner because we’re in-network with your insurance provider. Can anything throw a wrench in the process? Unfortunately, yes. 

Even if we (or our partners) have a contract with your insurance company, sometimes specific plans can prevent us from being ‘in-network’. 

How would that go? 

You might get matched with a partner, pick out your breast pump, and then find out that your HMO plan makes that partner technically ‘out of network’ and unable to help, even though you originally matched with them because they have a contract with your insurance provider. It’s complicated because insurance is designed that way. Womp womp.

If that happens to you, you unfortunately will have to reach out to your insurance company to find out what specific providers are in network with your plan so you can get your free or discounted pump. 

Don’t want to bother? There’s a good chance that whoever you match with (Bump Boxes or a partner) can *still* provide you with a pump at a discounted price. We just won’t be able to get it using your insurance benefits. 

When will you receive your insurance-covered breast pump?

Well, that depends on your insurance company. Many insurance companies allow us to ship as soon as we have everything approved. Others may require that we wait until you’re closer to your due date. Either way, you’ll be kept abreast (see what we did there?) of when your pump ships, so you can be on the lookout for it. 

Nursing-related products and trainings + pump-related refills and replacement parts

More good news: Many insurance plans also cover the cost of a free online breastfeeding consultation, as well as breast pump replacement parts and accessories – like tubing, breast shields, bottles, and even breastmilk storage bags. 

And even better news? Our team (or our partner’s team, if you don’t match with us) can help ensure you get these insurance benefits as well.

Ultimately, we exist to make your life – from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond – easier, so yeah, we’re happy to take the headache of dealing with insurance off your shoulders and make sure you’re set up for breastfeeding success. 

If you’re formula feeding

Planning on formula feeding or considering making the switch to formula for mental or physical health reasons – or because it’s what’s best for baby’s specific health needs? The good news is that formula-fed babies grow up to be strong and healthy, so you have our full permission + support to throw up a middle finger to anyone who gives you crap for giving your baby formula.

With that said, there is a downside to formula, and that’s cost. Obviously formula costs vary and can increase or decrease, depending on what’s going on in the world. (Hello, formula shortage hell.) But for the year 2022, annual formula costs fall somewhere between $5k and $10k. That’s not exactly pocket change. 

So, what’s the deal? Does insurance help with those costs at all? 

Unfortunately, chances are your insurance will only step in if your baby requires specialty formula because of an allergy, metabolic need, or other issue. Even then, you’ll almost certainly need a prescription from your doctor and have to follow up with your insurance company multiple times before you’re approved. 

If your insurance denies you coverage, what then? Well, you have a couple of options:

  1. Do some digging into what insurance plans *do* cover specialty formulas and consider switching during open enrollment.
  2. Reach out to the formula provider and see if they have any income-based programs to help families. 
  3. Look into WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). WIC is a federal program that provides funds to cover things like supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women + to infants and children up to five who are found to be at nutritional risk. While WIC typically only covers specific brands, if you qualify for assistance, the program can make paying for formula much more manageable.  
  4. Pay for formula using an FSA (flexible spending account) so the money you spend on formula won’t be taxed. A small win, but a win just the same. 

Have questions? The Mom Squad’s here to help

Mommin’ ain’t easy, but hopefully reading this post made figuring out what your insurance covers + how to get it easier. If you have any questions about getting your free or discounted breast pump or you’d like to know more about the process, just reach out to our Mom Squad at  

Psst! Looking for some breastfeeding essentials that will make breastfeeding more productive and more comfortable? Check out our Breastfeeding Box