Most CPAP machines should be replaced every five years, but the voluntary CPAP recall of more than three million Philips Respironics-brand CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP machines has some customers wondering when—and how—to replace their current device, even if it is less than five years old. Unfortunately, buying a new CPAP machine isn’t an option for everyone. In this article, we’ll share options for finding a cheap or low-cost machine and help you determine if you qualify for free CPAP supplies.
CPAP Rental vs Purchase: Consider if Renting Equipment Is Right for You
Most insurance companies require you to rent your CPAP machine over the course of 10 to 12 months to ensure you are compliant with your CPAP equipment. There are advantages and disadvantages to renting your equipment, including:
- Allows you to try different models without paying full price
- Provides you an opportunity to make monthly payments instead of purchasing your equipment in one lump sum
- Your provider can demand the return of your equipment if they deem you non-compliant
- Can cost more money over time, particularly since CPAP equipment requires long-term use
Factors such as your out-of-pocket maximum and whether or not you’ve met your deductible can impact the overall cost of a rental. If you have a high-deductible plan and you aren’t close to meeting your deductible, it may make more financial sense to purchase your equipment outright rather than renting one from your insurance provider.
See If You Qualify for ASAA or Government Assistance
You may have learned that your insurance company won’t cover the cost of a replacement device; this can be especially challenging for those currently experiencing financial hardship who are unable to immediately purchase a new machine.
Fortunately, the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) offers a special program, the CPAP Assistance Program (CAP), which provides machines and masks to as many people as possible. Donations from certain manufacturers and non-profit organizations make the program possible, and all that’s required from you is a $100 program fee via a debit or credit card or money order. You can submit an application for consideration here.
It may be helpful to look at government-operated local lending libraries and programs for used medical equipment in your area, too, since the equipment is appropriately vetted and sanitized.
Apply to Low-Cost or Free CPAP Donation Programs
Low-cost and free CPAP assistance programs are available through charitable organizations across the country. These institutions receive gently-used CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP machines from legitimate medical providers; once the equipment has been sanitized and sterilized, the devices are made available to consumers for a small fee. There are several organizations who are currently providing these services, including:
Reggie White Foundation
The Reggie White Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization committed to providing free machines and supplies to those who are unable to afford necessary CPAP equipment. Priority is given to those who have a more severe apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), though anyone experiencing financial hardship can apply. Though qualified candidates will receive free equipment, a $25 shipping and handling fee does apply.
Breathe California offers its Sleep Safe Program for certain California residents who need durable medical equipment (DME) at ultra-low costs. Residents in the following counties can apply for CPAP equipment assistance: Alameda, Fresno, Madera, Merced, San Benito, and Santa Clara. If you reside in one of the aforementioned counties and need a new CPAP machine due to the CPAP recall, you can apply for your low-cost CPAP machine here.
Second Wind CPAP
Second Wind CPAP specializes in providing quality discounted new and gently-used machines for those who are unable to afford CPAP equipment. CPAP machines start at $95 and vary depending on the manufacturer and device style. Your purchase includes a six-month money-back guarantee for used devices. Unlike some organizations, a specified residence is not required; in fact, this company accepts international orders.
Related reading: Here’s How To Donate Your Used Machine
Third-Party Sites Like Craigslist and eBay (At Your Own Risk!)
Some users are turning to third-party sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay to buy used CPAP machines, but we strongly advise against the procurement of any CPAP equipment through over-the-counter and third-party arrangements.
Buying a CPAP machine second-hand from an individual (rather than an established organization like the ones mentioned above) can be an issue for several reasons, including:
- The equipment may not be properly sanitized, nor may the exact condition of the device be known or disclosed
- The device will be set to the pressure requirements of its original user instead of the pressure settings you need for your specific sleep apnea treatment
- Necessary supplies like masks and tubing may not be included in the sale
- It’s technically illegal because a prescription is required to purchase medical equipment
Additionally, the average CPAP machine has a lifespan of around 20,000 hours. Sellers on third-party sites may not know or disclose the amount of time the equipment has been used, so you could end up purchasing a device at the end of its shelf life.
Another reason we do not suggest or recommend purchasing durable medical equipment on third-party sites is the potential to be scammed by a seller who may have ill intentions. For example, this YouTuber explains his experience of becoming a victim to CPAP scammers on Facebook Marketplace:
Purchasing medical equipment on third-party sites is a worrisome practice that we do not condone or advocate for. Buying CPAP machines on third-party sites can cause additional health issues. CPAP.com only recommends buying CPAP equipment through a direct-to-consumer site, government assistance program, or approved rental or donation initiative committed to providing clean refurbished CPAP equipment.
Having the proper CPAP equipment is crucial for comfortable and effective sleep apnea treatment, but we understand that purchasing a CPAP machine and its accompanying accessories can be cost-prohibitive for some.
There are several low-cost CPAP and free CPAP options online, plus at CPAP.com we are able to offer affordably-priced CPAP devices year-round and we often run promotional sales to help you save even more.
We hope the options outlined in this article can be beneficial for your sleep therapy journey, and we remain committed to providing you with a variety of affordable CPAP equipment—including CPAP machines—and accessories for all your CPAP treatment needs.