How Can I Treat Sleep Apnea Without Health Insurance?
You have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Now what? First, it is important to begin by understanding what sleep apnea is and why it is important to treat. Pauses in breathing during sleep are called sleep apneas. These events typically last between 10 seconds and several minutes and occur when the airway collapses, restricting normal airflow. As a result, oxygen does not reach the brain. In response, the brain—recognizing the inadequate breathing—increases carbon dioxide levels to awaken the body. Your heart rate and blood pressure spike and you wake up gasping or choking. And, most of the time, you don’t even realize this is happening!
What Does Sleep Apnea Feel Like?
What you do notice is that you wake up sluggish and tired. You may suffer from increased headaches or migraines, daytime sleepiness, inability to focus or concentrate, or depression. Lack of sleep impacts your physical and mental health, and your general quality of life. Long-term complications from obstructive sleep apnea include high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological complications, and stroke. In short, sleep apnea should be treated immediately.
The easiest and most effective method to treat obstructive sleep apnea is with continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP therapy. A CPAP machine works by providing a constant flow of pressurized air to support the upper airway from collapsing during sleep. Now, you know what you need but how do you get started? Do you have to go through your insurance?
Do You Need Health Insurance?
The first thing to know is that a CPAP machine is considered durable medical equipment and most insurance companies do cover CPAP therapy. However, your insurance coverage will vary by provider and generally come with deductibles and copayments. As a result, people are increasingly weighing the costs versus benefits of using insurance.
For example, an increase in the deductible typically leads to a reduction in monthly health care spending. When policy deductibles are rising, insurance companies are reducing the reimbursement rate for medical equipment expenses. So, even if you have reached your $5000 deductible, your insurance company may only cover 50% of the cost of durable medical equipment—ie, CPAP equipment.
What are Alternatives to Insurance?
As a result, people are increasingly taking a more proactive approach and looking beyond insurance. They are doing your own research, discussing products in forums, directly speaking to equipment providers, price shopping, and understanding the cost of the equipment. What you’ll notice is that online providers have a larger selection of potions and newer technology than insurance providers. Your insurer typically offers 2-3 machines or masks. They are typically lower cost models in only a couple brand names. The CPAP Shop, for example, offers over 900 CPAP products, including many CPAP machines and mask options in all different price ranges to fit your individual needs.
As you begin online shopping, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you want to look for a reputable provider and supplier. There are many online retailers that sell used products. Confirm that the products that you are purchasing are new and come with guarantees or warranties. Second, check the company’s website for an address, phone number, and physical address so you know they can be easily reached. Finally, call and talk to the staff. A company that has been around for a while will have a knowledgeable staff that can you walk you through any questions you may have or help you compare products to make the best choice for your needs. Most online providers can offer payment plans to make CPAP therapy an affordable option on any budget.
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