June 5, 2018
Medicine in 2018 is tough. The ultimate decision maker in your care is your insurance company - not me. In fact I have to spend considerable time arguing with insurance companies for testing and treatments that are the standard of care for sleep disorders and lung disorders. One of the common questions I get is from people who present for an assessment for sleep apnea is "If I know I have problems breathing at night why do I have to get a sleep test?". That is a very valid question because the cost of sleep testing will often exceed the cost of treatment. It costs between $700 and $2500 to get a sleep study in a sleep lab depending on if it is done in a physicians office or a hospital. Even home sleep testing can cost $200-$400. Clinical research has shown that patient's who have a high pre-test probability of sleep apnea don't benefit from testing. They do fine just being treated. The truth is it is not up to me. I am not allowed to order a CPAP machine through an insurance company without a sleep study documenting sleep apnea. If the cost of the study and the CPAP hit a deductible than the out of pocket cost for getting sleep apnea treated will exceed $1500. I have seen that prevent a lot of people from getting treatment for sleep apnea.
I recently launched a website to try and combat this problem. It is www.makesleepeasy.com. This site provides a mechanism for someone to get diagnosed and treated with sleep apnea for as little as $850. If testing is not necessary the price drops to $650. The good news is I am not geographically limited in providing these services. I am able to offer them in the 3 states I am licensed - North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio. The qualifier is the site cannot accept insurance. I also cannot treat medicare patients through the site. You can use flexible spending or healthcare savings accounts to cover the cost. For people with high deductible insurance plans you will likely save money on diagnosis, testing and treatment. You certainly will not have to deal with the hassle of pleasing a health insurance company. I can manage other sleep disorders such as insomnia through the site. I will not prescribe sleep medicines through the site. For those of you that know me you know I do not prescribe them in the office either. If you know someone who is not getting their sleep disorder treated because they cannot afford it - this may be an alternative.