CPAP machines are expensive, there's no doubt about that. This is not the case for everyone everywhere. Some people are even unaware they need to use one until they buy their first home and find out about the insurance discount offered on CPAP machines for those with sleep apnea. Many others do know but don't have $700 or more lying around to spend on a treatment option for an unknown disease. In addition to this, Medicare does not cover CPAP machines at all under the Durable Medical Equipment benefit. Private insurance is hit or miss when it comes to payment of CPAP machines with some covering payment in full while others only pay a portion of the cost.
Whatever category you are in, knowing that there are options to get treatment for sleep apnea other than expensive brand name CPAP machines can provide relief and peace of mind. Some of these options are affordable brands that directly compete with the expensive brand name CPAP machines. These machines perform the same function as their more expensive counterparts but lack some of the functionality and comforts. In addition to this, there are medical supply companies that sell refurbished equipment at a fraction of the cost and other online stores that specialize in selling discounted CPAP masks and supplies.
Here are some of the ways to get a cheap CPAP machine:
Do your research
Googling “cheap CPAP” will yield many results; most of them scams that promise new equipment at 1/10th the retail price (typical internet scam). Spend some time doing research, don't just fall for the first deal you find.
Look at insurance
Many people forget about their insurance coverage when looking for a CPAP machine or mask or anything else related to sleep apnea treatments. If you have health insurance through your employer, check with them first to see if they offer any discounts. This is usually where I found my best deals on equipment and supplies. Sometimes it's even free!
Repurpose old equipment
If you have an older model of CPAP that works fine but isn't the latest greatest technology, there might be other uses for it apart from being a sleeping aid. Find out if anyone in your family needs one and can benefit from the older machine before buying new equipment. If not, consider selling your old equipment. You can often find people on Craigslist who are willing to buy directly from you, so you don't need to go through the hassle of sending it back to an online retailer or manufacturer. The only downside is that you won't get as much for your older machine, but it usually still fetches a nice sum compared to just throwing it away or keeping it in storage somewhere.
Turn to the used market
Online retailers like eBay and Amazon have listings for CPAP machines all the time, even if they are “new” listings many times they are actually refurbished or returned units by customers; same goes for online auction sites like eBay. Make no mistake though; there is nothing wrong with buying one of these units if you manage to find a good deal. Just be sure that the unit is certified for use by the manufacturer and comes with all its accessories as well as any warranty information or manuals it may have shipped with originally.
Ask your doctor
If you have been prescribed a CPAP machine but can't afford one, go to your doctor and discuss this issue. Sometimes they might offer a discount on their own or know of other avenues where you could get low-cost treatment options. The only negative side of this method is that doctors don't offer much in terms of price negotiation, so you probably won't be able to bargain down too far from what they would give you for free because there is no markup on CPAP machines compared to other medical equipment.
Google for charities in your area or check with your local hospital to see if they have any partnered charities that offer CPAP machines at discounted prices to those who really need them but can't afford one on their own. This will probably yield the best results for those who are really struggling to get treatment at all. Many people are willing to donate their old equipment or even give them away for free just to keep them working again somewhere else.
Find a rental program
Some sleep centers have programs where you can rent CPAP machines from them rather than buying new ones. These rentals typically last between 3-6 months and will cover you until your insurance kicks in should they be covering your treatments. Be mindful, though, that these programs tend to have waiting lists, so don't expect immediate help if you need it now. What's nice about this is that the units offered through these programs are usually brand new and not refurbished like some other options on this list so you know you are getting quality equipment.
Use coupons when buying new
CPAP machine manufacturers often have special deals and promotions going on where they will offer discounts on their machines when bought with accessories. This is a great way to shave off the price of the unit if you don't need all that fancy stuff right away but may want it down the road. Also keep an eye out for rebates on CPAP machines that some insurance providers offer every once in a while. Just make sure to get your rebate request in before the deadline, otherwise you can lose out!
Lastly, there is nothing wrong with asking family and friends if anyone you know has a spare CPAP machine just lying around collecting dust somewhere that needs a new home. You never know who might have what you are looking for because of a recent diagnosis, death in the family, or change of insurance coverage. Sometimes people even have older models that work fine and don't mind giving it away at a price unlike selling directly which often nets less money than just keeping it in storage somewhere for a while until someone needs it.
In conclusion, while no method is fool-proof you can definitely be successful in getting a cheap, used CPAP machine if you take your time and get creative. Try all these options out or more until one sticks; it may take some trial and error but the best advice I can give is don't give up because not having proper treatment for sleep apnea can lead to very serious health consequences down the road. Here are a few CPAP assistance programs: