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Breast cancer survivors learn insurance companies won't cover cost of baby formula

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Posted at 8:15 AM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 10:15:53-05

AUSTIN, Texas — When Meghan Thomson started having pain in her right breast in 2019, it didn't take long for doctors to confirm what she had already suspected. At 33 years old, she was told she had invasive ductal carcinoma, a serious form of breast cancer.

"Mastectomy was really the only choice," Thomson explained.

Thompson became one of the more than 100,000 women in the U.S. who receive a double mastectomy each year.

"You have this sense of yourself and then your body will look completely different. It was just, it was hard," she said.

Those darker days eventually brightened when she found out she was pregnant.

Thompson gave birth to her son Ransom. After Ransom was born, Thompson discovered that her insurance company would only cover the cost of a breast pump, which she couldn't use. It would not pay for the formula she needed since she can't breastfeed.

"Your insurance will cover the birth of your child but not to make sure they are fed," she said.

Thompson is not alone in her frustrations.

"This was a massive policy gap for young mothers fighting breast cancer in this country," said Kim Chappell, vice president of marketing for the organic baby formula company Bobbie.

"This is impacting a lot of people, unfortunately," said Allie Brumel, co-founder of Bresties, a group that advocates for young mothers who have undergone a mastectomy and then given birth.

"We are living in a time where there are gaps in coverage for breast cancer survivors to feed their children," Brumel said.

In an effort to help bridge that policy gap, Bobbie is partnering with new moms in the U.S. who can't breastfeed due to a cancer diagnosis. The organization is providing them with free formula for a year. They've also started a nonprofit aimed at lobbying insurance companies for a policy change.

A change.org petition has garnered more than 10,000 signatures.