News broke this week that breast pump manufacturer Medela will be phasing out one of its pumps, the Medela Personal “Double Pump”. This does not mean the product is being recalled or is dangerous, but they have received complaints that this particular pump is not as efficient as its other models such as the highly recommended Pump In Style Advance or the manual Harmony pump.
This discontinuation of a product which many American lactating moms are currently using does shine some light on the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Mandatory coverage of breast pumps has helped to skyrocket the sales of Medela pumps by 34% since the ACA’s policy went into effect. Medela’s vice president of marketing Susan Rappin says “The insurance part has changed our business because more moms have access to pumps.”
Does the increase in access come with a negative side, though? As a result of needing to meet the increased market demand while still meeting the cost limits set by insurance companies, has Medela lowered their standard and begun to provide mothers with a lower quality product?
Last month, Philadelphia attorney Leah Katz’s story was shared in a Bloomberg Business article. She was one of several women who noted that Medela’s insurance-covered pumps were not functioning as well as more expensive versions that could be purchased through the retail stores such as Buy Buy Baby or BabiesRUs. “When I complained that I wasn’t getting much, the first question everyone asked was whether I was using the insurance pump, because it wasn’t as effective.”
Katz ultimately purchased a “traditional” double-electric Medela pump (for the steep $360 price tag) and also rented a hospital-grade version for $80 per month so she could also have a pump at work.
Rappin insists that the motors for insurance-issued and retail-purchased pumps are identical but does admit the accessory components may not be the same.
What do you think? Have you noticed a difference in the pumps that you purchase at a retail store versus the one provided to you by your insurance?
-------Update, 11/20/15 ----
We have been contacted by Medela's communications team and they've offered the following information as a clarifying point to our article: "The decision to phase-out the 57038 Personal Double Breastpump from Medela's product line was not due to complaints or ineffectiveness, but rather to offer our patented 2-Phase Expression Technology as standard within our product line."