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CPAP Supplies

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Unlike a fine wine, CPAP supplies don't get better with age. In fact, they tend to deteriorate and become less effective over time, and be replaced by ever more comfortable and innovative CPAP technologies. So we're often taken aback to hear that someone's been using the same mask for years, not having even replaced the cushions. Ditto for the machines themselves. If you haven't replaced your machine in years, you're working with outdated technology and probably could breathe a lot easier at night were you to update to something fresh. Now, we certainly understand that this stuff isn't cheap -- especially when you go through your brick and mortar local medical equipment supplier. But dd you know that Medicare and almost all insurers will pay for replacement equipment on a regular, fairly generous replacement schedule? It's true. They'll often pay out on the following replacement schedule:

Mask -- 1 every 3 months
Mask cushions -- 2 per month
Tubing -- 1 every 3 months
Disposable Filters -- 2 per month
Humidifier Chamber -- 1 every 6 months
Machine -- 1 every 5 years

Beats me why people aren't told more about this up-front. Perhaps the insurance companies are trying to keep it on the down-low to keep costs down. But that's shortsighted, because these guidelines are there for a reason -- because this stuff degrades over time and becomes ineffective. If people replaced them regularly, they'd have more success getting well with Sleep Apnea and be less likely to cost the insurance companies tons more money with the really bad, costly stuff like Heart Attack, Stroke, Diabetes, and more...

So if your CPAP equipment is older than your cell phone or computer, chances are there's a problem. Talk to your doctor or DME about replacements.

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Comment by Regina Whitman on March 16, 2009 at 7:12pm
What does this sleep mask look like? My friend has had difficulty adjusting to it, is that common?
Comment by Judy on January 22, 2009 at 4:16pm
Just because your supplies CAN be replaced on a certain schedule doesn't mean you HAVE to replace them on that schedule - other than the xPAP filters, those I WOULD replace as needed just to keep my xPAP fine tuned and in happy good working order. Like regular oil changes for your car. I did request and accept my first replacements on schedule if for no other reason that to be sure to have a new backup on hand should my current equipment fail. And I did buy a backup xPAP out of pocket to use for travel and in case of a breakdown of my primary xPAP.

When my first xPAP was a year old I took it in to my local DME supplier for a "check-up" and got this blank stare. Its working? What do you want US to do? Duh, you blithering idiots! Get out your manometer (if you even have one) and check the pressure output for one thing. My Users Guide doesn't tell me what YOUR job is, YOU are supposed to know it. The manufacturer said to bring it in once a year for checkup so that's what I'm doing and that's why I'm here. Want me to call the manufacturer and have them hand-walk you thru your responsiblities in this matter? Duh!

How I envy those of you w/a good local DME supplier and knowledgeable, caring RT!!! I'm fortunate that I was able to dump my first local DME supplier and now have a good one - but their RT is not knowledgeable about my xPAP and altho one heck of a nice person, REALLY not interested in learning a darn thing about my xPAP either. *sigh*
Comment by Elizabeth on January 21, 2009 at 7:38pm
Thanks so much for the answers. It is helpful. You are all so sweet.
Comment by sleepycarol on January 18, 2009 at 5:36pm
Actually if the humidifier chamber is kept clean and you are only using distilled water you do not need to replace it. Some of the M series humidifier chambers were constructed in such a way that once they are apart they almost always leak. Respironics have reworked the design and eliminated that particular problem as far as I know -- but if you have one of the early M series machines you may think about replacing that chamber with the newer style.

The fine white filters should be changed regularly -- schedule depends upon the degree with which yours turns grey. I change mine about once a month. The grey filter should be washed and can be reused. It will last longer than 6 months, but if you are prone to allergies, etc. you could change it as per insurance reimbursement schedule.

I am still using my original hose. I have been on my machine for approximately a year and half and have not felt a need to replace it. I do have a spare in case mine springs a leak, but do not plan on swapping until the first hose is kaput.

If your insurance reimbursement schedule is good -- feel free to get the extra supplies. But if you are like mine and your deductible has to be met first before they pay 80% there is no need to feel pressured into obtaining new supplies unless you have to.
Comment by Mike on January 18, 2009 at 1:23pm
Elizabeth, excellent question, and afraid I don't know the answer as to why the humidifier needs replacing. I presume just ordinary wear and tear. As between something touching your face like a nasal cushion and a humidifier, I'd be more concerned about replacing the nasal cushions, though.
Comment by Elizabeth on January 16, 2009 at 10:49pm
Thank you for this post. I didn't know. Tomorrow morning I am calling my DME and getting a new mask and hose and filters. I've had it for 72 days now. Thanks for the breakdown on when items should be replace. The humidifier needs replacing? Why is that? Can you explain? I appreciate your help.
Comment by RichM on January 9, 2009 at 8:49pm
BlueCross BlueShield will replace mask and almost every thing else every 4 months. Filters every month ect.
Comment by Jess on December 25, 2008 at 7:32pm
This post has some great information. In more than one and a half years I have only replaced my mask, pillows, tubing twice and my filter and humidifier chamber once. This is not nearly often enough. I only learned earlier this month that I could replace my nasal pillows twice a month and just now reading this post I have learned that I can replace my filter twice monthly.
I strongly recommend to everyone that you replace your equipment as often as you can. Especially the nasal pillows and mask. It results in a much more comfortable experience which means you are much more likely to use your CPAP as it should be used.

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