If your doctor has prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy to help manage your sleep apnea, the next step is buying a CPAP machine.
When someone has sleep apnea, they experience periodic pauses in breathing1 while they sleep, often because of an obstruction in the upper airway, as is the case with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The CPAP works by delivering pressurized air to keep the airway open for better breathing.
If you’re new to CPAP treatment, you might feel overwhelmed and unsure about how to purchase a CPAP device. We’ll help walk you through the process of buying a CPAP machine, including the general costs and whether these are covered by insurance.
How Do I Buy a CPAP Machine?
You cannot buy a CPAP machine without a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare professional, as the machines are considered class II medical devices2 by the FDA. You can only get a prescription after obtaining a formal diagnosis from your healthcare provider for a medical condition that requires a CPAP machine, like sleep apnea.
Learn More: Does Insurance Cover a CPAP Machine?
Getting an Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Diagnosis
If you show signs of sleep apnea, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. It’s helpful to provide a list of your symptoms, as well as any information given to you by a sleep partner, who may have noticed you snoring, waking up frequently, or gasping for air while sleeping. Audio or visual recordings of you sleeping can also be helpful in the diagnostic process.
If your physician suspects you have sleep apnea, they will likely refer you to a sleep specialist for a sleep study. According to Mayo Clinic3, testing at a sleep center may involve:
- Nocturnal polysomnography (PSG) – For this test, you will stay overnight at a sleep center and be connected to equipment that monitors you while sleeping. Your breathing, movements, blood oxygen levels, and heart, lung, and brain activity will be assessed to help make an accurate diagnosis.
- Home sleep testing – In some cases, at-home sleep monitoring may be recommended. You can do this test at home, and similar to the ones done in a clinic, an at-home sleep test assesses your breathing, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels. It’s possible to receive a diagnosis from these results, but some people may require further testing at a medical facility, as home testing isn’t as accurate or complex as testing at a sleep center.
- CPAP titration study – If a sleep specialist suspects you have obstructive sleep apnea based on your PSG or at-home testing results, the next step might involve a CPAP titration study4. This will help determine the best type of PAP device for you and what level of air pressure it should be configured to. Testing involves sleeping while using a PAP machine to figure out which pressure setting is required to resolve your sleep apnea. This is then used to calibrate the prescribed CPAP. For those undergoing a PSG, the titration study is often performed on the same night.
Read more about CPAP titration studies here.
Some patients may also be referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist to check if there isn’t something else that’s obstructing their breathing.
Also, your doctor may opt to prescribe an alternative PAP depending on your diagnosis. These include APAP automatic positive air pressure (APAP), bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP), and ASV adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV).
Where Do I Buy a CPAP Machine Once I’ve Been Diagnosed with OSA?
Once you have a CPAP prescription, you can choose to buy directly or go through your health insurer. If you choose to fund the machine yourself, you can either order online or visit a brick-and-mortar store, and your prescription will determine the type of machine that you can buy. Unless you’ve been recommended a specific mask by your sleep specialist, you may prefer to shop in-store to try masks on to find a comfortable fit.
Most insurers will cover CPAP equipment5 to some degree, but you should contact your provider to understand what their specific CPAP policy is and to what extent this treatment is covered. Coverage may vary by state, and supplies may be covered separately. Your insurer will likely have a list of approved suppliers that you must obtain equipment from.
Depending on your coverage, you may be given a CPAP machine outright or offered something on a rent-to-own basis. Most insurers – including Medicare and Medicaid – have strict compliance rules6, which require you to use the device for a minimum amount of time within a set timeframe, which is often for at least four hours per night on 70 percent of nights during a 30-day period. Data will be collected by your machine to prove this. Insurers will also have a set schedule for the replacement of supplies like masks, tubing, and filters.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
Your CPAP titration study will determine the required pressure settings for your machine, which will be detailed on your prescription and set by the machine provider. Pressure is measured in centimeters of water pressure7, so you’ll see a setting such as 4 cm H20, for example. This translates as the amount of air that’s required to push water up by 4 centimeters.
You should never attempt to adjust the pressure settings yourself – if you’re finding the pressure uncomfortable, always speak to your healthcare provider first to find a viable solution. They may perform a new titration study or recommend an alternative PAP device.
It’s also important that you follow your doctor or sleep specialist’s advice when using the machine. Research shows that CPAP machines are most effective at relieving obstructive sleep apnea symptoms when they’re used for seven hours per night8, showing that intermittent use can impair treatment. If you’re struggling to sleep with CPAP, speak to your doctor before discontinuing treatment as they may be able to suggest a different machine, pressure setting, or CPAP alternative treatments.
How Much Does a CPAP Machine Cost?
The cost of a CPAP machine will depend on which type of machine you’ve been prescribed, but purchasing a CPAP out-of-pocket will typically cost $500 to $1,000. However, this is just for the machine itself and does not include all the required accessories, which must be replaced regularly.
As mentioned above, most insurance providers will help cover a CPAP machine and supplies, so long as you have a valid prescription and meet certain criteria.5 However, you should check with your insurance provider to see what their policy is. In some cases, it might be cheaper to purchase one directly, depending on whether you’ve met your annual deductible.
In the case of Medicare, they might cover a three-month trial of CPAP equipment9, provided you meet your Part B deductible, are diagnosed with OSA, and have a valid prescription. After this trial, you must meet your doctor in person to confirm that the treatment is working for you. Medicare may then cover 80 percent of the cost of equipment and accessory rental or purchase. A CPAP device will be rented to you for 13 months, after which you will own the device.
Most insurers – including Medicare – will collect data from your machine to ensure you’re using it as intended, and they may discontinue coverage if you’re not.
Along with the machine, you also have to consider other important accessories that go along with it.
- Masks – The mask sends air through to your nose and/or mouth. The different types of CPAP masks include nasal pillows, nasal masks, full-face masks, and hybrid masks. Your sleep specialist will likely recommend a particular style, depending on your requirements. CPAP masks typically cost between $50 and $200.
- Headgear – Headgear helps keep the mask in position at night, and chin straps help to keep the mouth closed in cases of mouth breathing. CPAP headgear will likely cost around $15 to $40.
- Hoses/Tubing – Tubing connects your CPAP machine to your mask. These hoses can be heated or non-heated, and your healthcare provider will advise which type you need. Tubing costs start at around $5.
- Filters – CPAP filters are either reusable or disposable10 and work to eliminate contaminants from the air drawn in by your machine, before it’s delivered to your lungs. Disposable filters cost from around $1 to $10, while reusable ones cost from $5 to $20.
- Mask Cushion – The mask cushion provides both comfort and a good seal to prevent air leaks. These typically start around $20.
- Mask Liners – Mask liners sit between your face and the mask cushion to wick away moisture that may build up, which may make the mask more comfortable and better sealed. You can buy reusable or disposable liners – disposable liners cost around $25 for a month’s supply.
- Humidifiers – Most CPAP machines contain a built-in humidifier tank, or allow one to be connected. This adds moisture to the air, to prevent drying of the nasal passages or mouth. A replacement humidifier chamber costs $20 to $40.
- Tube brushes – Tube brushes allow for a more thorough cleaning of the CPAP hose, and these start around $15.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does insurance pay for CPAP machines?
Yes, most insurance providers will cover CPAP equipment to some extent, though this depends on your individual policy. If your insurer only covers a small percentage of the cost, you may find it cheaper to buy directly. However, insurance companies may require strict compliance rules that must be adhered to ensure coverage, which means that you have to use your device consistently, as advised by your sleep specialist.
How much does a CPAP machine cost?
The cost of a CPAP machine varies greatly. When purchasing out-of-pocket, the price could range between $500 and $1,000, depending on the specific product and manufacturer.
What does a CPAP machine do?
A CPAP machine provides a steady flow of pressurized air that helps keep the airways open. These devices can be beneficial for people diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea because by keeping the airway open, those with sleep apnea are less likely to experience gaps in breathing while they sleep.
Lisa is a content writer for Sleep Advisor, which combines two of her greatest passions – writing and sleeping. She can also be found writing about fitness, sustainability and vegan food.
- 1. “Sleep apnea”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified April 6, 2023. –
- 2. “Medical Devices; Anesthesiology Devices; Classification of the Positive Airway Pressure Delivery System”. Federal Register. 2018. –
- 3. “Sleep Apnea: Diagnosis & treatment”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified April 6, 2023. –
- 4. “Understanding PAP”. Harvard Medical School. Webpage accessed November 16, 2023. –
- 5. Riva, Miranda M. “A Guide to Medicare Coverage of CPAP Machines and Supplies in 2023”. National Council on Aging. 2023. –
- 6. “Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Customer Handbook”. Mayo Clinic Store. 2023. –
- 7. Callahan, Emily. “CPAP Settings: Can I Adjust My CPAP Pressure When It’s Too High?” Aeroflow Sleep. 2021. –
- 8. Malhotra, A., et al. “Dose Response Relationship Between Positive Airway Pressure Adherence and Clinically Important Outcomes in Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea”. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2022. –
- 9. “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices, accessories, & therapy”. Medicare.gov. Webpage accessed November 19, 2023. –
- 10. “CPAP Equipment Cleaning and Disinfecting Instructions”. Weill Cornell. Webpage accessed November 16, 2023. –