The new health care laws are saying that insurance covers lactation, but we have not been able to make that work. Similar to when the laws said they would cover breast pumps, it was a year at least before the conduits were created for it to actually happen. I have worked with many moms and even been on the phone with insurance companies. The catch is that in order to bill insurance, you need a code and we do not have one to use. Lactation professionals were using some codes for a while and people were getting reimbursed but then we found out, and I found out direct from my certifying body, Healthy Children Project, that we cannot use codes as we are not clinicians. You may hear of a friend that did it. That is either an old story, in a different location, or the lactation person was affiliated with a medical practice such as a pediatricians office and can then bill through that. I do not have any such affiliations so I cannot offer you a receipt with any billing codes on it.
Basically, if you are seeking doula and/or lactation support, you can and should expect this to be an out of pocket expense. I can provide an official receipt for services if you request and you can submit it to your insurance, and I encourage you to do so. But know that it will probably be denied for reimbursement.
So what if you want this care and cannot afford it? There are a few options here. Some people just make it happen. They save up, make other sacrifices, and/or ask friends and family for help. I've had clients get help affording doula care by putting it on their baby registry. I know I'm biased but $1000 towards doula care is way more useful than $1000 towards a stroller. Another option is to go with a less expensive doula. There are great choices as the NYC Doula Collective, of which I am a member and a mentor. There is also Doula Match and www.freeandlowcostdoulas.com. Yes, a less expensive doula is less experienced, but that does not mean you cannot find a great connection. While there is definite advantage to having a more experienced doula, there is also value in not adding a stress to your life during this time by committing to pay more than is comfortable for your family.
So how much is doula care? In NYC right now it ranges from free to $10,000. Newer doulas charge around $500-1000, and the more experienced doulas like myself charge around $2500-4000. You can get a sense of average doula fees here at the NYC Doula Collective where we price according to competitive going rates and experience:
http://nycdoulacollective.com/labor-support/. If you look around their website you will also find me on their tier 6 doulas page. Once you are sure of your price range, I suggest seeking doulas in your range and not meeting doulas out of range in case you find you really love them and put yourself in a pickle.
Choosing the right doula for your growing family is an important decision. I hope this information can be helpful with your selection process.
Lots of love,