Fourth Year of Ranking Healthcare Insurers on Support for Breastfeeding Moms: Asuris Zooms to the Top, Most Grades Remained Consistent

New York, NY, March 8, 2017 – International Women’s Day:

Asuris rose in its ranking by the National Breastfeeding Center (NBfC) this year, upgrading from a D- to an A due to greater transparency in its policies and for its overall coverage for pumps and services.

The National Breastfeeding Center (NBfC) reviews insurers’ publicly posted benefits for members and evaluates how well insurers are living up to their obligations to meet the intent of the law. They publish the results in an annual Scorecard. Most of the payers’ scores this year have remained fairly consistent with last year’s grades. However, there have been a few standouts.

In addition to Asuris zooming to the top of the list, securing an A grade overall, United Healthcare Community Plan made a significant leap, moving from a failed grade to a B+, due to publishing its policies and providing improved coverage. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida upgraded from a C to a B+ due to improvements in benefits and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (across all states) upgraded marginally from a B- to a B. Other insurers that showed improvement include Health Partners, which moved from a C+ to a B, and MedMutual, which moved from a D to a C+. Qualcare was newly added to the list and scored a B.

It’s not all good news though. “There have been a couple of downgrades, which we are sorry to see” said Susanne Madden, NBfC’s Cofounder and COO. “We have two insurers that inexplicitly decided to stop publishing information about coverage – Peach State/Centene and Total Healthcare – dropping them both into the ‘fail’ category”. Part of securing a grade requires that Payers make their information publicly available. Policies vary from covering the bare minimum as required by law to offering fully qualified lactation care providers and the purchases of efficacious pumps. “We did not expect to see much change this year due to the fact that it was an election year with the very real possibility of a dismantling of the Affordable Care Act” said Madden. “The ACA specifically made a deliberately, though not clear, attempt to address and expand breastfeeding support and coverage. The potential repeal or replacement of the ACA potentially puts at risk the breastfeeding support/coverage insurance coverage gains made from 2013-present, as reflected in our NBfC Scorecards*” stated Todd Wolynn, MD, MMM, IBCLC and CEO of the NBfC.

“Given the strong current federal legislative proposals to modify or entirely replace the ACA, the NBfC remains ideally positioned to continue to measure, publish and reveal trends/changes to health insurance coverage and support of breastfeeding and breastmilk use.” said Wolynn. Madden further states “We call upon the healthcare insurance industry to at least maintain the current level of breastfeeding benefits, in the face of challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The population health benefits that breastfeeding affords society may take some time to bear fruit in the form of lower healthcare care costs, but one thing is for certain – putting women’s health issues on the chopping block is a guaranteed way to ensure that future costs spiral.”

*NBfC researches and measures publicly communicated insurance policy points, which are scored based on the Model Payer Policy – Payer Coverage of Breastfeeding Support and Counseling Services, Pumps and Suppliesan evidence-based, “best practices” resource demonstrating optimal breastfeeding coverage and support, which health insurers could provide to their applicable members.

Scoring Methodology

NBfC assesses commercial insurance companies’ published policies and guidelines and assigns a grade based on the adequacy of coverage provided, using The Verden Group’s Policy Search tool to locate official Medical Policies, Google to search insurers’ member and public domains for guidelines, and newsletters that contained information about each company’s breastfeeding coverage.

Questions? Please reach us here: / 855-777-NBFC

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