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Indianapolis mom quoted $174 through insurance for a $59.99 can of formula

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Posted at 8:42 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 20:42:02-04

INDIANAPOLIS — As families continue to struggle to find formula, one mom also got sticker shock.

Lindsey Hartell is a mother of two — Ava, 6, and Owen, 10 months.

"I can't find his formula. It is so scary," said Hartell.

She is still having trouble finding formula for her son.

"I kept hearing oh there's a military plane that came in and dropped off a whole bunch of formula and I'm like where's my formula and it's not there. It's scary," said Hartell. "I never thought I would ever even have to think twice about formula because formula should be accessible in every store. It should be very accessible for any baby whatever kind they need. They make a million kinds for that reason."

Owen is on a special formula because he's allergic to all other kinds. She can't just switch his formula.

Hartell turned to her pediatrician for help, but discovered something she never expected.

"I couldn't believe I was actually hearing what I was hearing," said Hartell.

Her insurance provider told her that formula she desperately needs would be $174 a can.

The same exact formula and size is $59.99 at the store.

"I cannot afford that. I got off the phone and I just cried," said Hartell.

It would cost her just shy of $2,000 out of pocket for a month's supply.

"It's more than my mortgage. It's a mortgage and a car payment," she said. "It's infuriating, it's absolutely heartbreaking to feel like you don't know when the next time you're going to be able to find this formula."

For now, Hartell is left searching for the formula for her baby.

IU Health Network, which gave Hartell the cost for the formula, said not every parent can get a prescription for it. A child has to have a documented intolerance or a food allergy. It's strictly for medial purposes only.

“If your child has a medical condition requiring a specialty formula instead of regular formula, your physician may be able to send a prescription to a medical nutrition provider, who will bill your insurance. It’s important to note that prescriptions for formula are only for patients with medical conditions requiring specialty formula, and insurance coverage varies by insurance plans.”
Gail Shephard, Statewide Director of Enteral Nutrition, Indiana University Health

Regardless of prescription, parents say they need formula relief now.

This week, the Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis, Michigan halted the production of its EleCare specialty baby formula because of severe weather that caused flooding in the area.