Family fights to feed newborn with milk protein allergy - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Family fights to feed newborn with milk protein allergy

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email 

MONROE, OH (FOX19)  - With two young kids in the house, Steven, 6, and five-months-old Emily, playtime isn't the problem in the Holland household. It's mealtime.

"She was sick all the time," mom Angie said. "She would just throw up all the time. I was changing her clothes five and six times a day."

"She was sick," big brother Steven said. "She had colic and gas reflux."

Angie said that Emily couldn't hold down anything: breast milk or baby formula. That's until a few weeks ago.

"Within the first 24-hours she was totally different," Angie said.

That's when doctors discovered Emily was allergic to a milk protein.

"The milk protein is in baby food," Angie said. "Unfortunately that information is not on the label so you have no idea what it's in."

Doctors prescribed the infant formula Elecare. Angie said it costs $43 a can, and each can lasts for about three days.

Angie's husband's private insurer Medical Mutual said they won't pay for it.  And they don't have to.

The National Council of State Legislatures reports 23 states mandate that private insurance companies cover medically-necessary infant formula. Kentucky and Indiana require insurance to provide coverage for some food and formula. Ohio does not.

"The insurance company told me on the phone, 'we don't pay for your food. Why would we pay for her food? And I want to say to them, 'She's three months old, at that time, and if she doesn't have this food she will die,'" Angie said.

The insurance company recommended the federal program Women, Infants and Children or WIC.

"WIC does cover Elecare," said Betsy Buchanan, Director of Hamilton County Women Infants Children Program. "So Elecare is on our formulary and we can get it for clients with a doctor's prescription."

But only if applicants make a certain salary. For a family of four, the maximum is $40,783. The Hollands make more than that amount, but they say they don't earn enough to afford Emily's formula.

"There's not anybody that can afford to all of sudden to go spend $43 every three days for something you absolutely have to have," said Angie. "Really the plan is to struggle through and hope that she outgrows it."

Buchanan recommended contacting the manufacturer, Abbott Patient Assistance Foundation, directly for assistance. The company offers some help to families, but it's based on income. Patients must also have a physician referral.

Holland said she's finally received all of the paperwork from her insurance company and her doctor and she sent it in yesterday.

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