New Research Reveals Access to Breastfeeding Counseling and Supplies Have High Rewards, Low Cost

Report finds that breastfeeding support has negligible impact on insurance premiums while saving hundreds of millions of dollars and improving health outcomes for babies and mothers

McHenry, Ill. June 27, 2017 – Medela today released new evidence highlighting the importance of breastfeeding support on the health of babies, moms and the United States economy. Medela commissioned Milliman, Inc. a global, independent, actuarial firm to assess the impact of breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling on health insurance premiums. The data demonstrates that comprehensive breastfeeding support, now covered by most health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)i ii iii, has minimal impact on insurance premiums, while also resulting in potential cost savings from common pediatric conditions in the United States.

The results of the actuarial study reveal that if a person had employer-sponsored health insurance with a $500 per month premium, only 14 cents would be attributed to the breastfeeding benefit. Breastfeeding support represents only 0.028 percent of total commercial premium dollars and 0.041 percent of total Medicaid per-enrollee expenditures.iv In comparison, prescription medicines account for 17 percent of total U.S. health care spend.v

“The breastfeeding support benefit represents less than a quarter of a percent of an insurance premium, and if you factor in cost offsets, the cost of the benefit would be even less,” said Susan Pantely, Consulting Actuary, Milliman, Inc. “Our research shows that the benefit can save about $1.6 million per 100,000 women of peak childbearing age in 2017 dollars when factoring in just four of the most common and costly childhood conditions in the first year of life if optimal breastfeeding rates were to be achieved. The estimated savings under current breastfeeding rates could be between $405,000 to $940,000 per 100,000 women.” vi

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading medical societies recognize the benefits of human milk and strongly recommend breastfeeding for the first 6 months exclusively and ongoing for at least the first year of life. The benefits of breast milk are indisputable:

  • Exclusive breastfeeding for four months is associated with 50 percent reduction in ear infections; 72 percent reduction in lower respiratory tract infections often requiring hospitalization for children under age one, and exclusive breastfeeding for four months and some breastfeeding for at least six months is associated with a 64 percent reduction in nonspecific gastrointestinal infections.vii
     
  • Babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop asthma, obesity and die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).viii
     
  • Premature infants fed human milk have sharply reduced rates of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating gastrointestinal infection resulting in significant reduction in morbidities and mortality, fewer hospital readmissions, and less costly medical bills in the long term.ix

“Supporting breastfeeding improves health outcomes for babies and mothers and saves money for taxpayers, employers and the U.S. health system,” said Melissa Gonzales, managing director for Medela USA. “Our commitment to mothers and babies begins before birth and continues during the breastfeeding journey through critical transitions, like the trip home from the hospital or back to work. We know support is essential to breastfeeding success for both mom and baby.”

The benefits of health coverage for comprehensive breastfeeding support is already contributing to progress. In the United States, 51 percent of all babies are given breast milk for at least six months, up two percent from 2012,x and 30.7 percent of all babies are given any breast milk for at least a year, up over three percent from 2012.xi In 2014, an estimated 47,000 more infants were breastfed because of the ACA breastfeeding benefit.xii Hospitals across the nation have made noticeable strides in getting babies to start their lives breastfeeding, with 81.1 percent now starting their lives out receiving breast milk,xiii up from 76.5 percent in 2012.xiv

Medela also announced today that it has created a space for mothers across the United States to share their stories of how insurance-covered breastfeeding supplies or support have made a difference, through its Your Story Matters initiative. The collected stories will be used to continue efforts to educate about the benefits of breast milk as a matter of public health, and listen to the needs of moms.

In addition to contributing to the growing body of research about the value of breast milk and its economic impact, Medela is expanding opportunities for breastfeeding education through the new Medela Breastfeeding skill on Amazon’s devices with Alexa including the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap and via the voice remote on Amazon Fire TV.  Medela is also committed to educating lawmakers and other government officials. The company convened a panel of expert physicians to brief more than 50 congressional staff on the benefits of breast milk at an event held this spring in Washington, DC.

See the infographic about Breastfeeding Support: Low Cost & High Value

About Medela
Founded in 1961, Medela is led by Michael Larsson and concentrates on two business units: "Human Milk," providing research-based breast milk feeding solutions, and "Healthcare," engineering and manufacturing medical vacuum technology solutions. Medela is headquartered in Switzerland and has 18 subsidiaries, distributing its products to more than 100 countries throughout the world. For more information, visit www.Medela.com.  

About Medela LLC
Medela’s US-based manufacturing and development facility is headquartered in McHenry, Illinois. Every year, more than one million mothers in the U.S. rely on Medela’s technology. As the #1 breast pump brand*, Medela provides the best in research-based breast milk feeding products and clinical education to support moms breast milk feeding journey. The company is fully dedicated to supporting mothers so that they can provide breast milk to their baby for as long as they choose. For more information, visit www.MedelaBreastfeedingUS.com.

About Milliman
Milliman is among the world's largest providers of actuarial and related products and services. Founded in 1947, Milliman is an independent firm with offices in major cities around the globe. For further information, visit www.milliman.com.


*QuintilesIMS ProVoice Survey; Nov-Oct 2016.

i See 45 C.F.R. § 156.115(a)(4) which states that the provision of EHB means that a health plan provides benefits that “include preventive health services described in §147.130 of this subchapter.”  §147.130 incorporates the requirements of section 2713 in regulation.

ii 45 C.F.R. § 156.115(a)(4)

iii 42 U.S.C. § 1396u–7(b)(5))

iv Henry D, Pantely S, and Philip S. Milliman Client Report. Impacts of Breastfeeding Support, Supplies, and Counseling on Health Insurance Premiums and Costs. Version 2. Jun. 8, 2017. Please see attached report.

v Girod C, Hart S, and Weltz S.2016 Milliman Medical Index. May 2016.

vi Henry D, Pantely S, and Philip S. Milliman Client Report. Impacts of Breastfeeding Support, Supplies, and Counseling on Health Insurance Premiums and Costs. Version 2. Jun. 8, 2017. Please see attached report.

vii Pediatrics Vol. 129 No. 3 March 2012 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-3552 “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.” p. e829-e832

viii Breastfeeding Report Card.  Progressing Toward National Breastfeeding Goals. United States. 2016.  CDC. Breastfeeding Report Card 2016.  http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm.

ix Bartick et al. Suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: Maternal and pediatric health outcomes and costs, Maternal & Child Nutrition, July 2016.

x Breastfeeding Report Card.  Progressing Toward National Breastfeeding Goals. United States. 2016.  CDC. Breastfeeding Report Card 2016.  http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm.

xi Breastfeeding Report Card.  Progressing Toward National Breastfeeding Goals. United States. 2013.  CDC. Breastfeeding Report Card 2013.  http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm.

xii Kapinos, Bullinger, and Gurley-Calvez. Lactation Support Services and Breastfeeding Initiation: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act. Health Services Research. Nov. 10, 2016. Available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1475-6773.12598/abstract.

xiii Breastfeeding Report Card.  Progressing Toward National Breastfeeding Goals. United States. 2016.  CDC. Breastfeeding Report Card 2016.  http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm.

xiv Breastfeeding Report Card.  Progressing Toward National Breastfeeding Goals. United States. 2013.  CDC. Breastfeeding Report Card 2013.  http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm.