Home Sleep Studies – Controlling the Cost of Sleep Apnea
Treating sleep apnea can be an expensive proposition. It has traditionally involved visiting the doctor, participating in a lab-based sleep study, and purchasing a CPAP machine (the most commonly prescribed and least invasive solution). The doctor visit is usually less than $200. CPAP machines can now be purchased outright for anywhere from $180 to $600. But the largest cost has traditionally been the sleep study itself.
Typically, doctors will order a lab-based sleep study, or polysomnography (PSG). They can range in cost but commonly the fees are in the thousands – sometimes up to $10,000. For what? For the opportunity to sleep in a lab with electrodes taped to your body. The monitoring equipment measures your heart rhythms and breathing function. Basically, it measures the number of times you stop breathing per hour and how that affects the oxygen levels in your system. As oxygen drops, your heart becomes stressed as it tries to compensate by pumping more blood through your system – a dangerous condition to be sure!
The problem with the lab-based sleep study is that you rarely sleep. You are in a strange environment with electrodes confining your position. In cases of severe apnea, even if you’re lucky enough to fall asleep – the lab technicians won’t allow you to sleep for long. You are woken up and instructed to place a CPAP mask over your face. Now it’s time to sleep again. Really? As if the lab, electrodes, and body tape weren’t restricting enough, you are now expected to fall asleep with headgear and a mask on your face. Regardless, the doctor requires the results from this study to justify your CPAP prescription.
Recently, home-based studies have been made available for a fraction of the cost (in the area of $500). While home-based monitoring equipment may have a few limitations when compared with dedicated labs, they do monitor you in your own environment – your own bed, pillow, etc.. In the end, the results serve the same purpose. They justify the prescription for a CPAP. If you live with a high deductible or are managing the cost of claims for your company, consider home-based sleep studies as viable, less expensive alternatives to traditional PSGs.
This is a profitable business so you’ll find providers all over Illinois. SNAP Diagnostics out of Wheeling (www.snapdiagnostics.com) offers home-based equipment. You can also contact the Midwest Snoring Institute in Naperville (www.midwestsnoring.com).