Similac Expert Care NeoSure is pretty much the go-to formula recommended by pediatricians and pediatric specialists to treat low birth weight (LBW or SGA) and failure to thrive (FTT) in preterm infants. In addition to a higher calorie load (22 cal/fl oz), NeoSure is also fortified with more vitamins and minerals than other leading formulas (which is unfortunately why it smells like dirty pocket change, especially when it’s spit back up).
NeoSure is especially critical in the nutritional program of preterm infants who are unable to nurse or need a higher calorie intake than what they’re getting from breast milk (human breast milk varies from person to person, but tends to clock in at 20 cal/fl oz). For example, we were directed to fortify our daughter’s bottles with NeoSure to up her calorie intake to 24 cal/fl oz.
Because it is a specialty or “therapeutic” formula, it retails a bit higher than the basic formulas (and crazy-higher than the store-brand formulas). At our local Kroger, a can of NeoSure costs about two dollars more than a can of Similac Advance (don’t even look at the price tag on the Alimentum brand–just don’t). On the face of it, a two dollar difference seems kind of meh, but also bear in mind that preterm parents are also juggling more copays and medical expenses that first year than the average term parent–and those two dollars per can really start to add up.
With that in mind, there are a few things parents can do bring down the cost of the family grocery bill:
WIC is an invaluable resource to families who need help in covering the cost of formula, especially for infants who are at nutritional risk. The program’s details vary slightly from state to state, but if your child has qualified for Social Security Disability (SSI) and has enrolled in your state’s Medicaid program, you will more than likely qualify for WIC. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify, apply anyway–it is well worth your time. And keep in mind, too, that you’ll more than likely need to furnish a letter of medical necessity (LOMN) to obtain NeoSure.
A great place to start is by getting to know your NICU’s Social Worker–they know all the ins and outs of financially surviving the NICU. If your NICU does not have a social worker you can talk to, be sure to visit your state’s WIC page for more information.
Some insurance plans will help cover the cost of NeoSure with a doctor’s prescription. Or so I’ve heard. You can also use your FSA to pay for specialty formula (again, with a doctor’s note or LOMN). You might have to sit on the phone for eight hours, but it is definitely worth checking into.
Sign up for Similac’s StrongMoms program. We did, and we got a $10 coupon in the mail every couple of weeks (this was for 2013-2014). $10 covered the cost of maybe 3/4 of a can, but these coupons were like gold when they came in (also, they were printed on gold paper).
I’ve read in chat rooms that family friends will also join the mailing list to obtain more of these coupons for the new parents. I’m not sure if this stratagem is very effective, but if parents have a gazillion coupons they no longer need, I would urge them to gift these coupons to their NICU before they expire.
Buy in Bulk
You will more than likely have to go online to purchase NeoSure in bulk. Depending on where you buy, however, shipping might eat into your savings. Amazon Prime might be a good place to start, especially if you decide to buy diapers and definitely wipes in bulk as well. But whatever you do, check with your pediatrician or pediatric gastroenterologist about your treatment plan–there is nothing worse than having five cans of NeoSure you don’t need (which, again, you should consider gifting to your NICU if you have a surplus).
Honestly, I wish we had done a few more of these things while my daughter was still consuming bottles of NeoSure–she had NeoSure right up to her first birthday. For six months, we were easily spending $50 on formula each week. All told, I think we spent $1800 on NeoSure, but my husband thinks that number is too conservative. At any rate, if you are a parent of a preemie, it is well worth your time and dollars to bring the cost down–and maybe open up a 529 with the savings.
Are there any other ideas floating around out there? Feel free to post in the comment section.