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New Tricare Policy Gives Free Breast Pumps

A family rests at Evans Army Community Hospital on Fort Carson, Colorado. (Devin Fisher/U.S. Army)

Troops and military family members are newly able to receive any manual, electric or hospital grade breast pump for free provided they have a prescription under a new coverage policy issued by Tricare Friday.

The pumps may be purchased at any store, according to the new policy. If the beneficiary buys it using their prescription from a pharmacy or other medical service equipment provider, there is no out of pocket cost. If it is purchased at any other kind of retailer, the buyer can submit a reimbursement request to Tricare with their receipt and copy of their prescription.

Additionally, any Tricare user who has purchased a breast pump or other supplies covered by the policy after receiving a prescription since December 19, 2014 can submit their receipts and copy of their prescription to Tricare, the policy states.

Tricare had been ordered by lawmakers in December 2014 to cover breastfeeding supplies and support as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. However, Tricare policy makers had not yet revealed what the coverage would include. Female service members and military spouses were advised to instead purchase supplies themselves and save their receipts in hopes that Tricare would reimburse them.

The previous Tricare policy only covered hospital grade breast pumps for premature infants. It did not cover lactation consultants or support.

Under the new policy, users can receive one hospital grade breast pump, if a doctor believes it to be necessary, and one manual or electric breast pump every time they give birth. The policy also covers pump power adapters, tubing and tubing adaptors, locking rings, bottles, bottle caps, shield or splash protectors, and breast milk storage bags as well as up to two double pumping breast pump kits.

Up to six appointments with a Tricare authorized lactation consultant after the mother leaves the hospital are also covered at no charge, and a referral is not needed, the policy states.

The policy, however, does not cover pump battery packs and accessories, pump bags, cleaning supplies, kits that enable hands-free pumping, ice packs or labeling supplies, nursing bras, pads or shells, nursing lotion or regular baby bottles.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at Amy.Bushatz@military.com

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