Flex Spending Rules: Breast Pumps Out, Acne Cream In

Thanks to health care reform, individuals can now take care of personal health needs with IRS-sheltered flex accounts. Unless they’re breast-feeding moms.

The IRS states breastfeeding doesn’t have “enough health benefits to qualify as a form of medical care,” according to The New York Times–which means you won’t be able to use your new tax-free flexible spending account for breast pumps.

Basically, it comes down to whether breastfeeding is considered preventative care, or just nutrition. The flexible spending accounts are tax-free and, according to the Times, could apply to denture tape, acne cream, and the replacement of grass with astroturf for parents of children with allergies.

Advocates for seeing breastfeeding as preventative care point out that the antibodies in breast milk prevent disease, “including one recent study that found it could prevent the premature death of 900 babies a year.”

Breast pumps, which could cost $500-$1000, are a loaded topic because they are instrumental in enabling new moms to juggle care for their babies and go back to work.

What do you think about breast pumps not being covered under health care?

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  1. by Kathleen

    On October 27, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I think that breast pumps should be included in any flex spending program. When you look at the range of items that ARE included, breast pumps should certainly apply. Hopefully, in the future this controversial issue will be looked at more carefully and breast pumps will be allowed as an acceptable allowance through flex spending programs.
    Thanks for addressing this important issue; hopefully it will help lead to heightened awareness & the need for a change in the system.

  2. by nicole weiher

    On October 28, 2010 at 1:55 am

    I whole heartedly believe the robust health of my children is due to breastfeeding them. I ave many friends thhat chose not to breast feed, and their children are constantly sick. Ear infections,tonsils removed, adenoids removed,swine flu, mano,flu symptoms, runny nose more days out of the month than not ! I was very diligent in picking out a breastpump for when I did have to go back to work. I was determined to continue feeding my babies my breast milk even when I couldnt be there. It would have been very nice to have this as an acceptable product to buy through flexible spending. . I probably would have chsen and even better upgraded version of the pump I had! We cannot reproduce a mothers breastmilk in a test tube.. it just cannot be done. Who knows what the effects all this formula feeding has on our children ! we are not meant to thrive and be nourished on man made “milk”. Lets try and get this passed, to help indorse “breast is best” and allow people to see it as a real health benifit! Thankyou for raising awareness on this topic! You guys are the “breast”!!

  3. by Lynn

    On October 28, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Only in the US, in other countires breastfeeding is the only acceptable practice for feeding you new born and here we put some many resitrictions on breastfeeding. I definetly think that breast pumps should be allowed on FSA’s. I have breastfed both of my children and they were never sick, I truly believe that breastfeeding helps in so mnay ways. Thanks for bringing awareness to this issue!

  4. by Pablo Trullen

    On October 28, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    I do not understand how people could still doubt that breastfeeding is the best form of preventive care for a child. Not only it transmits already formed antibodies, but it also helps avoid obesity and having your child becoming a picky eater.
    Some parents actually think that the more formula their baby gets the better so they push them to keep drinking instead of relying on the child’s natural instinct to stop when they had enough, which could lead to bad eating habits. Plus if mom is eating right, she is passing different flavors onto her child so that this exposure will allow them to enjoy different foods once they start eating solids.
    Thank goodness me and my wife agreed on this and she thinks it is one of the most rewarding experiences in her life.

  5. by Nicole Garcia

    On October 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I think it’s closed minded people who say that we cannot use our flex spending to better the lives of our newborn babies. Who are they to decide what is best for our children? If people think its better for our kids why can’t we use our money how we want? Its still medical, not just because. I do not agree with the rule.