Aetna considers rental of a reusable breast pump medically necessary durable medical equipment (DME) when either of the following criteria is met:
Aetna does not cover breast pump purchase under standard Aetna benefit plans that are not currently subject to Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) requirements for coverage of breast pumps. Non-reusable manual or electric breast pumps that are available commercially are not considered by Aetna to fall within the standard contractual definition of durable medical equipment in that they are normally of use in the absence of illness or injury.
Aetna does not cover the following breast pump-related items:
Note: The following policy applies to new health plans and non-grandfathered plans that are currently subject to DHHS requirements for coverage of breast pumps, with coverage beginning in the first plan year that begins on or after August 1, 2012 (please check benefit plan descriptions):
Breast-fed infants have a lower risk of diarrhea and otitis media than bottle-fed infants during the first year of life. For premature infants, breast milk helps prevent infections, speeds recovery from respiratory distress syndrome, increases weight gain, protects against retinopathy, and facilitates cognitive and visual development.
Aetna considers breast pump rental medically necessary for infants while they are detained in the hospital. Breast pumps used in the hospital are specifically designed for reuse (sterilizable) and are not sold commercially.
By contrast, the manual and electric breast pumps that are available commercially are not designed for reuse, and are most commonly sold to mothers with normal infants who are working, traveling, or for other reasons not always home to breast-feed the baby. Standard electric breast pumps or manual breast pumps may be necessary to initiate breast feeding in the postpartum period, within the first eight weeks following delivery. Manual breast pumps are sufficient for continuation of breastfeeding following the postpartum period. Current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics are to continue breastfeeding of infants through one year of age.
Women may be able to breastfeed adopted infants through induced lactation. The process involves nipple stimulation with use of an electric breast pump beginning about two months before the adoptive mother expects to begin breast-feeding. In addition, hormonal therapy, such as supplemental estrogen or progesterone, may be prescribed to mimic the effects of pregnancy. Typically, hormone therapy for induced lactation is discontinued shortly before breast-feeding begins. At that point, the infant's suckling is thought to stimulate and maintain milk production.
Authorized under provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released health plan coverage guidelines, developed by a committee of the Institute of Medicine, that require health insurance plans to cover breast pumps and certain other women's preventive services. New health plans and non-grandfathered plans and issuers are required to provide coverage consistent with these guidelines in the first plan year (in the individual market, policy year) that begins on or after August 1, 2012.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2010) recommended that infected women in the United States refrain from breast-feeding to avoid post-natal transmission of HIV-1 to their infants through breast milk. These recommendations also should be followed by women receiving ant-iretroviral therapy. Passage of anti-retroviral drugs into breast milk has been evaluated for only a few anti-retroviral drugs; ZDV, 3TC, and nevirapine have been detected in the breast milk of women.