You may have read about insurers charging their members higher copays for some drugs than their retail price. You also may have read about medical device companies collecting and selling people’s data without their knowledge. Marshall Allen reports for Pro Publica on the hidden costs of having sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea interrupts people’s sleep throughout the night. It can cause loud snoring. It keeps people from functioning well during the day. Without treatment, people have an increased likelihood of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
If you are among the millions of Americans with sleep apnea, a CPAP machine may help you sleep through the night. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines are one of a limited number of ways to address sleep apnea, and they work for many patients. So, insurers tend to cover them.
But, CPAP machines turn out to be a hidden profit center for insurers. Some insurers charge people copays to rent CPAP machines for needed supplies–filters, hoses and masks–that are more than it would cost to buy them outright.
Moreover, insurers can monitor people’s sleep through these machines, compromising their privacy. And, if you’re not using the CPAP machine, insurers may deny coverage and require you to pay for them in full. They also may require people to pay out of pocket for all supplies that come with the machine.The machines relay data that allows the insurers to know whether patients are using them as prescribed.
Medicare covers the CPAP but requires people to use the CPAP a minimum of four hours a night for at least 21 nights a month (7 out of ten nights). Doctors must let Medicare know if their patients are complying and whether it is working. But, the machine is loud, requires you to use a mask, and takes getting used to, so people cannot always comply from the get-go.
Here’s more from Just Care: