Sleep apnea is frustrating, but what’s even more frustrating is paying to treat it. CPAP therapy, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy, is the most common form of treatment for sleep apnea, and usually helps improve sleep almost instantly. However, a CPAP machine requires a lot of additional items, such as the hose, the mask, and even a humidifier. All of these added accessories hike up the price of getting quality sleep.
There are two ways you can get a CPAP machine: either buy one or rent one. However, since sleep apnea is often chronic, we recommend buying a CPAP machine because it will be cheaper in the long run. Renting a CPAP machine is a great option if you want to try different makes and models out before making a definitive decision.
There are many kinds of CPAP machines from different brands and manufacturers, so the prices range anywhere from $500 to $4000, with the average being around $850 without insurance. However, most insurance companies now fully cover the costs of certain CPAP machines. Our post will guide you through the different kinds of machines, the costs, and what you need to know about insurance and CPAP machines.
Cost of a CPAP Machine Without Insurance
You need a prescription to purchase a CPAP machine, but once you have one, you’re ready to find which CPAP device will work best for you, such as a portable one or one with a built-in heated humidifier. Shopping around will give you an idea of the price range and help you find an affordable option, but talk to your doctor first to see what they recommend.
We recommend looking for a CPAP machine that comes with everything you’ll need, including a tube and mask. Additionally, finding a CPAP machine with a three-year warranty may prove useful, as they normally last three to five years.
Along with the basics that come with a CPAP machine, you’ll also want to get some extra accessories, such as tube filters and cleaning products. Making a big purchase like this is worrisome without insurance, but we’ve got you covered with the average prices of standard CPAP machines so you feel prepared.
- CPAP machine: $850
- Tube: $30
- Mask: $150
On average, a CPAP starting kit costs a little over $1000 without insurance, but that price will change depending on what kind of accessories you get. Below are the costs of extra accessories you may want to consider.
- Tube filter: $7
- Humidifier: $175
- Cleaning supplies: $50
- Cleaning machine: $300
On average, extra CPAP machine accessories will cost you anywhere from $200 to $500. A humidifier is not necessary for your CPAP machine to work, but it is recommended to add moisture to the room and prevent side effects like nasal congestion and dry mouth. A cleaning device is quicker and easier than cleaning your CPAP machine manually, but it costs more.
Overall the average cost of a CPAP starter kit with extra accessories totals out to be a little over $1,000 without insurance.
Cost of a CPAP Machine With Insurance Coverage
Nowadays most insurance companies cover the costs of standard CPAP machines under their DME category, or Durable Medical Equipment; however, most companies have stipulations. For example, some insurance companies require you to show proof you’re actually using the machine through a wireless modem that tracks the usage. Coverage also depends on the kind of CPAP machine you get, because most insurance companies won’t cover travel machines or extra accessories.
With insurance, you won’t have to pay out of pocket for the actual machine, but you may have to pay for things like humidifiers or tube filters. Insurance will typically cover a majority of the cost for a sleep study, which costs $1500 per night on average.
Insurance covers the cost of your CPAP machine by either paying for it upfront or reimbursing you later down the line. Reimbursements are common, especially for accessories like mask replacements and tube filters, and all you need is your receipt. CPAP machines typically last 3 to 5 years, while accessory replacements should occur every three months, and those are often included with insurance. CPAP equipment is a recurring cost, whether you have insurance or not.
Where to Buy a CPAP Machine
There are different options when buying a CPAP machine—through your insurance, at a store, or online—and each choice offers its own benefits and drawbacks, but deciding how to shop comes down to personal preference.
Through Your Insurance
Buying a CPAP machine through your insurance tends to be the cheapest option. Most insurance companies cover the costs of CPAP machines and the expenses that come with it, such as masks and filters. And while this tends to be the cheapest option, it doesn’t give you a ton of freedom to choose on your own.
When you buy a CPAP machine through your insurance, they typically choose which brand you get and the features it comes with, meaning you can’t choose if you want one with a humidifier or data recording features. If you’re newly diagnosed and unsure of what you want in a CPAP machine, going through your insurance is a cheaper way to avoid the hassle of filtering through the many choices of CPAP devices.
At a Store
Buying a CPAP machine at a store tends to be the safest option because it gives you the opportunity to try it out and see what works for you. A quick Google search will allow you to choose from multiple medical equipment stores near you. All you’ll need is your prescription and someone at the store will show you your choices.
Shopping for a CPAP machine in person is nice because you can see how big each device is and what they offer. Some machines are more complicated than others, featuring touch screens and a bunch of different control buttons, while others are simplistic and user friendly.
Additionally, picking out the right mask is easier in person because you can try it on and see how it feels. There are different kinds of masks, such as full face masks or nasal masks. If you choose to buy your CPAP machine from a store, you can try on different masks beforehand to see which one is most comfortable for you.
Going to a store to purchase a CPAP machine can be beneficial, but it will typically cost more than going through your insurance. However, if you find a machine you like, your insurance company may reimburse you for part or all of it; just make sure to ask them about their coverage options ahead of time.
Buying a CPAP machine online tends to be the most convenient option. It used to be difficult to buy CPAP machines online because there was no way to verify prescriptions. Now you can find the right CPAP machine online and know it’s safe and legal because of prescription verification processes.
Online shopping is great because you can search around until you find what you want; it’s quick and simple. However, when you shop online, you can’t test the products first and may end up spending extra time returning items. Looking at customer reviews before you buy will save you from this concern.
Types of CPAP Machines
Each CPAP machine is priced differently than the next, depending on the supplier, the features, and how new it is. There are three different categories of CPAP machines, including standard, automatic, and compact. Automatic and compact CPAP machines tend to be more expensive than the standard ones, and they aren’t normally covered by insurance.
Standard CPAP machines have one pressure setting, are slightly bigger than a lunchbox, and perfect for long-term use. Not only are they quiet, but they also allow users to change their comfort settings and usually come with additional options, such as humidifiers or heated tubing.
Automatic CPAP machines are about the same size as standard machines and are just as quiet. However, they change the pressure settings on a breath by breath basis. These machines auto-adjust based on the comfort settings you set, providing full or lighter pressure as needed. Similar to standard machines, automatic machines have additional options as well; however, these machines tend to be more expensive.
Compact CPAP machines are much smaller than other CPAP machines and are perfect if you’re going out of town to see family or you’re on the road a lot for work. Travel machines come in both standard or automatic pressure settings and typically include a backup battery. These machines offer the same performance as the others in a portable way, but they tend to be the most expensive CPAP machine.
Things to Think About Before Buying a CPAP Machine
While CPAP machines are extremely helpful in dealing with sleep disorders, there may still be some drawbacks, like the noise they make or the skin irritations they might cause. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the discomforts that come with using a CPAP machine, but it’s important to think about possible issues ahead of time so you can find the right machine.
The most common problem with CPAP therapy is that people are not used to sleeping with something covering their face, and thus it’s sometimes uncomfortable and difficult to fall asleep. The best way to avoid this is to try different masks and find which one fits most comfortably on your face.
With small, lightweight options, you don’t have to be uncomfortable to treat your sleep apnea. Additionally, some users find it difficult to fall asleep because of the air pressure on their face and throat, but the best way to fix this problem is to look into machines with ramp features.
Most machines come with the option to add on a ramp, which slowly increases the air pressure up to the prescribed setting over time, allowing you to fall asleep to lower air pressure, and then providing higher pressure once you are already sleeping. Ramp features tend to be helpful for people who find the forced pressure uncomfortable.
Some CPAP machine users complain about the noise that comes from the device as it’s working. While quieter machines are always an option, regularly cleaning out the filters is helpful with noise reduction.
Runny Nose and Dry Mouth
A runny nose and dry mouth are common side effects of using a CPAP machine, but the easiest solution is to buy a CPAP machine that comes with a humidifier. The humidifier will keep the air moist, combating those side effects. As humidifiers are sometimes an expensive solution, saline spray can also help with a runny nose, and a chin strap will help keep your mouth closed at night to reduce dryness.
It’s no surprise that wearing a mask all night may cause some skin irritation where the mask lays. In fact, some people have bad reactions to the mask on their first few nights simply because it’s new and can take some time to get used to. However, if this continues to happen, it’s probably a sign of using the incorrect mask size.
Finding a mask that fits you is one of the most important steps when purchasing a CPAP machine. You need a mask that is tight enough to do its job correctly and get air into your lungs, but loose enough to be comfortable and allow you to sleep.
Why are CPAP supplies so expensive?
CPAP machines require prescriptions, which limits their accessibility and causes their prices to rise. They are also the most common treatment for sleep apnea, making them high in demand. However, shopping around online could help you find some more affordable options.
How often does insurance pay for CPAP?
Most of the time, insurance companies will authorize a new CPAP mask, tube, and filter replacements every three months. This is based on how often these items should be replaced to ensure proper treatment. Most CPAP machines last about 3 to 5 years, so insurance companies will pay for a new machine within that time frame.
Is it better to rent or buy a CPAP machine?
Renting is a great idea if you’re unsure what you want or want to test different products. Rentals get cleaned and sanitized between each user, but you should still clean your machine every couple of weeks. Oftentimes, certain sleep apneas are not permanent, such as obstructive sleep apnea, so renting a machine is a great idea. However, if you suffer from central sleep apnea, it might be financially smarter to buy a machine.
How can I get a free CPAP machine?
While insurance may cover the costs of your CPAP machine, most don’t consider it “free” because you still have to pay for the cost of insurance. However, there are charities and non-profit groups that provide free CPAP equipment to those who don’t have access to one or can’t afford one.
Can you buy a CPAP machine without a prescription?
Technically, yes. Legally, no. Purchasing a CPAP machine requires a doctor’s prescription; however, there are machines you can buy online without a prescription. If your insurance is reimbursing you for a CPAP machine you bought, they’ll want to make sure you have a prescription.
CPAP machines are a recurring cost because most sleep apnea is chronic. Keep in mind that a new machine should be purchased every 5 years, and accessory replacements should be purchased every 3 months. CPAP machines and all their extra tools may be expensive, but the benefits you get from using these machines and breathing better at night will be worth it.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.