RE: Hello-I'm new here and some questions
Hi Glenn and welcome to Apnea Board!
When dealing with your insurance company, keep in mind that they may have certain cost restrictions for covered CPAPs. Also, some insurance companies only cover certain types of machines. Find out first, so you're not wasting your time. Usually more sophisticated machines are not covered unless and until your doctor has determined that you are non-responsive to standard CPAP therapy. Also, some insurance companies may only pay for rental of a CPAP unit, and then agree to pay for one once they are certain CPAP will help solve your problem and you are being compliant with the treatment. Usually, their break even time period is 6-12 months of rental, and then you might have to call them up and suggest that they purchase the machine for you, rather than keep spending the rather expensive monthly fees for rental. If they agree, the machine is yours to keep (which is nice if you ever lose your insurance coverage for any reason).
There are way too numerous types of CPAP machines to list all the various features here, but when you're looking, consider things like: is it durable, does it include a carrying case, the ability to use foreign currents, the capability to adjust for different altitudes, an attached heated humidifier, ramping (allows for a gradual pressure increases), size of machine (for travel), easy to read display, a way to track compliance built into the machine and way to retrieve the data, & DC current operations via a car battery.
On the different types, standard CPAP has continuous pressure at one setting only. Bi-level (BiPAP) devices with two different pressures, one for inhalation and a lower pressure for exhalation. There are also auto-adjusting devices, designed to sense varying pressure needs as you sleep and to change the pressure automatically as needed. Some machines offer "C-Flex", and it is a less expensive way to help reduce the pressure as you exhale.
Some of the common brand names are: DeVilbiss, Fisher & Paykel, Puritan-Benett, ResMed, & Respironics. All of these are pretty reliable with quality equipment, some more expensive than others, however.
I personally use a Respironics Remstar Pro with C-Flex, and it has served me very well for about 5 years now. I like it because it is not too expensive, has Cflex, allowing me to exhale easier, it has an attachable heated humidifier, ramp feature, adjustable for different altitudes, has a DC current feature, and it's built like a rock.
You will notice that if your insurance company allows it, it is usually MUCH cheaper to purchase your machine and masks over the Internet than to go through a DME (Durable Medical Equipment supplier). On my machine, it was something like $900 through the DME and less than $400 over the Internet. My mask was something like $230 using a DME, and only $120 over the Internet.
Also, there are a world of difference in DMEs if that's the route you're going. Some providers have a horrendous reputation, others are relatively good. It would be worth your while to do a Google search on opinions of the various DMEs. Your sleep center may direct you to a specific local DME, but that does not necessarily mean you must use them. Your insurance company may prefer to deal with a specific DME also, so find out. Trust me, do your research and you'll save yourself a lot of headaches in the long run. I personally use Walgreens Home Health care, and have not had any major issues.
Anyway, I hope others chime in with their CPAP experiences.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
Apnea Board Administrator
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