The purpose of this legislation is to PROMOTE feeding of our future generation with breast milk. Not an easy task when women are often expected to return to work full-time within few weeks after giving birth.
If you are going to write about the economics of providing breast pumps, without out-of-pocket expenses to a woman, please consider all aspects of this topic. Few points you have not considered:
1. Breast milk is rich in antibodies that protect the baby from infections and are not found in commercial formulas. According to WebMD, "Except for wellness baby visits, ear infections are the most common reason for trips to the pediatrician, accounting for approximately 30 million doctor visits a year in the U.S. Today, almost half of all antibiotic prescriptions written for children are for ear infections, and the cost of treating middle ear infections in the U.S. has been estimated at $2 billion a year."
2. Breast milk has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help the baby grow appropriately. Something to think about while our nation is struggling with morbid obesity and obesity related health care costs. For example, a bariatric surgery for weight loss, performed on adults and children, ranges from $6,000 to $8,000 per procedure.
3. For most babies and especially premature babies, breast milk is easier to digest than commercial formula made with cow's milk. Take a look at rising incidences of child and adult allergies and gastrointestinal conditions, that may be prevented.
So, "How much better off are we as a country?" The benefits might take time, the time it takes for these breast-milk-fed children to grow up and become healthy, intelligent and productive members of our society.
I thank anonymous for the polite and informative information provided on breast feeding. I do not wish to argue the value of breast milk to formula; I concede this point.
I explicitly assumed that Molly and other women were informed about the benefits of breast feeding. I implicitly assumed that Molly and other women consider their welfare and that of their child as one. Mothers want the best for their children.
I have two problems with the regulatory mandate. First, I believe that the price elasticity of breast feeding is very inelastic meaning that a large reduction in price of breast feeding will have a small impact on the number of women who choose to breast feed. Second, health care costs will explode because the price of the breast pump (health care) is separated from the benefit of breast feeding.
My assumption that women are informed might be wrong. If so, an educational campaign might be appropriate. My assumption that women love their babies and care as much or at least almost as much about their baby’s welfare as their own might be wrong. Heaven help us if they don’t. Neither additional education nor small subsidies will have much impact on the number of babies who are breast fed.