The IRS states breastfeeding doesn't have "enough health benefits to qualify as a form of medical care," says The Times, so you won't be able to use your new tax-free flexible spending account for breast pumps. Acne cream's okay!

As health care reform's provisions start going into effect, including what's eligible for new flexible spending accounts, women's health is among several fronts being haggled over.


Basically, it comes down to whether breastfeeding is considered preventative care, or just nutrition. (A similar metric — whether birth control pills are preventative — has applied to the struggle to get birth control pills fully covered under health care reform.) 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 research that the antibodies in breastmilk 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 beyond any debates over breast is best, but because they enable new moms to juggle care for their babies and going back to work. Happily, that work-life balance is made a little easier by the fact that the Affordable Care Act does have a mandate for unpaid work breaks for breast pumping.

Acne Cream? Tax-Sheltered. Breast Pump? No. [NYT]
Earlier: Your Birth Control Pills Not Yet Free Under Health Care Reform