Tricare to Cover Breastfeeding Supplies

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Thanks to a measure in the new 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), expected to become law before Christmas, Tricare will soon be required to provide breastfeeding supplies and support to new moms.

Currently the law governing Tricare is silent on breastfeeding and lactation support issues. And while a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which governs healthcare for most Americans, requires that breastfeeding supplies such as pumps and support such as lactation consultants be covered, Tricare is exempt from that law.

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Right now Tricare only covers “hospital grade breast pumps for premature infants who meet certain criteria,” according to their website. Tricare does not cover lactation consultants or help outside whatever assistance you receive while in the hospital giving birth or through your local military treatment facility (MTF).

But the new NDAA changes all that. Now, according to what will soon become law, Tricare must cover “breastfeeding support, supplies (including breast pumps and associated equipment), and counseling … as appropriate during pregnancy and the postpartum period.”

That language was included to bring Tricare in line with the ACA on this issue, officials said. “As appropriate” is meant to mean that if the equipment prescribed by or referred from her doctor, a woman can have it.

However, what we don’t yet know is how Tricare will implement this change. Under the ACA a supplied breast pump can be electric or manual. That’s a big difference when it’s time to pump. And we do not yet know which Tricare will be covering.

Tricare officials did not respond to a request for comment on just how the agency plans to implement this soon to be ordered change, so we’ll have to wait until it becomes law to hear the details on that.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Ashley

    If there’s a Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC employed at the installation you’re stationed at, you can see them at no cost.
    This is one thing I do support. As someone who has exclusively pumped for 3 kids (the third one finally started latching at 4 months old) I can tell you that even a little help from insurance would go a long way. Even if they set up a program to rent out pumps from installation hospitals, that would be amazing.

    I don’t think they should cover things like flanges, tubing, membranes, etc…but helping with the cost of an electric pump would be pretty amazing.

    I don’t know how other hospitals on other installations work, but at Fort Bragg, if you qualify by income, Womack will allow you to rent (for super cheap) or use (for free, if you’re very low income) a hospital grade pump, such as the Medela Harmony.

    In the meantime, if anyone reads this and is needing a pump, Medela has special payment plans for military families. You just have to call their customer service number.

    • Nicole

      They changed that policy at Bragg. They no longer rent out hospital grade pumps. They only give pumps out for premature children.

    • AKohl

      We are an McConnell AFB a small base and recently they got rid of their breast pump program. But also we do not have a military hospital but we have 4 birthing hospitals/centers near by but if you want to rent its not very cheap and they are public hospitals so many other moms look at it too.. I feel they way you feel. If they will just cover the actual pump, I will be just one happy mommy to be.

    • Karina

      Does anyone know if there is an update on this? Will TriCare provide breast pumps?

  • Candi

    It’s about time! Truncate should not be exempt from what other insurances have to provide. Our military mommies deserve breastfeeding pumps and support too. Most of them do not qualify for free WIC pumps and end up with no financial assistance to get a good pump. Some areas may have other resources but many do not. Tricare needs to provide equal benefits, as this is an injustice to our military folks.

  • MAJ.D

    Glad to see this. Here at Sill this void had been filled by volunteers and La Leche League, and most were on their own for equipment. Not helpful for mothers who work a full duty day and can’t keep up with the feeding schedule of a newborn.

  • Natalie

    I have breastfed 4 kids and I was able to access a lactation consultant with each of them. Tricare paid for every visit with each of them. I am impressed that they will helping out with pumps though! Theya re expensive and cheap pump will turn any Mom off from pumping and breastfeeding.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Natalie — curious, was the consultant at the military treatment facility?

  • Elizabeth

    I had my daughter in August this year, and tricare covered my pump.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Tricare will cover the pump under very limited circumstances — you mustve fallen under those :-)

  • marymac87

    I had my son this past July and he was premature, in the special nursery and Camp Pendleton wouldn’t give me a pump to use while in the hospital because my son had a proper latch, also I was discharged before him and staying on the other side of the hospital since I wasn’t the patient anymore I wasn’t consider priority even though my son was premature. Since he was premature he would fall asleep within a minute and nothing could wake him not even the staff, then the required me to use formula and bottle feed. I was so upset but thankful for gift cards to purchase my own pump. Any bit of insurance would have helped otherwise.

  • keelie

    You can rent a hospital grade pump or get one for free from your local WIC office. I had my children while in the Navy and that is what i used with my first and it worked just fine. There are always ways to get what you need.

    • Teddi

      But not everyone qualifies for WIC!

  • Hope

    WIC only rents pumps if you are working full time… There are hospitals that rent them as well but it’s awesome that tricare will now cover it… But knowing how military budgets are, they are more likely to pay for a fighter jet or new ship built rather than a nice electric breast pump ;)

  • Julie

    In the Travis AFB area, Abbie at the Pump House is a great resource. I owned two pumps with my first son, but they were both not working that well for my second. $15/week to rent a hospital grade pump and good, helpful, nonjudgmental advice!

  • Anita

    I am so proud of you all for sticking with breat feeding even when it is hard and you don’t have the right pump. 23 years ago my second baby was born and I burned up three $12 one sided pumps The third baby I rented the hospital grade one and it was awesome. If you can’t get a great pump some where else, Cut cost some where and go for the rented hospital one! You desire it!! Ask LLL for advise too.

  • Shannon

    “Breast pump for convenience”-believe me if I could have nursed I would have. I don’t pump for convenience. I pump out of necessity!! Those who make the rules of Tricare benefits have been so out of touch for far too long.

  • Sarah

    Any update on this yet?

  • Guest

    Tricare’s website still says that pumps are not covered except for special cases (like premature infants). Has there been any updates on this?

    • Tessheath

      I am due next month and called tricare today to ask for an update. The representative told me that it is only for cases where the baby is premature. I am not sure if this will ever happen! I was really hoping they would cover some sort of pump before my baby arrives.

      • Guest

        That’s really frustrating :( Thanks for updating us though. I hope this gets pushed through soon. I heard that if you save your receipt when you buy one… it might be reimbursable when the change finally happens although I’m not holding my breath. Good luck.