As the CEO of Hygeia, I want to update our customers about the current status of breast pump availability. As most of you know, the Affordable Care Act went into place last August, and one of the provisions of the act was the “Comprehensive Coverage for Women’s Preventative Care. One of the eight new preventative services included the following breastfeeding coverage:
Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling: Pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect their health and that of their children. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies.
The guidelines for implementation of this coverage state: “Comprehensive lactation support and counseling, by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, and costs for renting breastfeeding equipment. In conjunction with each birth.”
So, how did we get from that very positive language to today, when many moms do not have access to a breast pump covered by their insurance company?
It’s a complex problem. First, the Affordable Care Act language isn’t specific enough about what exactly insurance companies need to cover and how the breast pumps would be covered. The vague wording left the insurance companies to determine what they would provide to their members. Because each insurance company must balance a controlled cost environment while following the law, each insurance company had to interpret the law individually. The DME providers could not be sure what was going to be covered by each insurance company, so they couldn’t forecast what would be needed.
The ACA went into effect on August 1st, 2012, but only for plans that renewed after that date. Because so many plans renewed on January 1st, and so little information was available on what those plans were going to cover before that date, DMEs couldn’t predict the market. Without any market forecasting, they were unable to communicate any future needs to the manufacturers. DMEs cannot legally bill an insurance company until they deliver a product or service to the mom, so on January 1st, total chaos erupted as over 1,000 moms called DMEs each day.
Since DMEs order pumps customized to fit their pricing model, we did not receive enough advance notice that the demand for our Q pump would be anywhere near this high. As a result, we are now out of stock of the Q pump. Because of manufacturing time, we do not expect to be able to fulfill orders of the Q pump until late March or early April.
We have stock of pumps at a slightly higher price point, and some DMEs are electing to substitute those pumps to fulfill demand. Some DMEs are electing to wait for the Q pumps, which are a lower cost model.
We anticipated a massive rise in demand for our DME level products and worked as hard as we could to procure orders for those models in 2012. We know that a good quality breast pump is not a luxury item and have believed since the middle of last year that this would be an extraordinary and historic time in the market. We are a small company and we have exhausted every resource to receive advance orders and communicate the urgency of this situation. However, as you can see from the nationwide outage of breast pumps in the DME marketplace, this was something beyond our control.
We know there are many moms on waiting lists for our pumps with DMEs and we apologize for this situation and will do everything we can to fill orders for the Q pump as quickly as we can. If you want a Hygeia pump, please contact us at email@example.com and we’ll do everything we can to find you a Hygeia pump at a DME with stock. UPDATE: We now have many DMEs with stock of our pumps, there is a list here. You can also email us and we will be happy to assist you in finding a DME that can work with you.
We appreciate your loyalty to Hygeia breast pumps and the large number of moms asking specifically for our products has not gone unnoticed in the market. We believe that after this situation is resolved that Hygeia products will be easier for moms to receive under their insurance plan than ever before. Our retail models are still in stock (including all La Leche League International packages) and should you wish to purchase a pump, visit our store locator to find a retailer near you or place an order on our web site.
Our customer service team will be maintaining a wait list of moms seeking a Hygeia pump, and as DMEs replenish their stock we will update you on where you may find them. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our wait list. UPDATE: There are many DMEs with current stock of our pumps at this time, a list can be found here.
Again, I apologize for this situation and it will be our goal to resolve this as quickly as possible.
Decky Goodrich, CEO