CPAP Therapy

Why Can’t I Get a CPAP Machine Without a Prescription?

cpap machine without prescription

The short answer to the major question of if you can legally get a CPAP machine without a prescription is no. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CPAP machines are classified as Class II devices. By being identified as a Class II device, a prescription is required in order to purchase a CPAP machine.

When starting your CPAP therapy journey, you will need to ensure your therapy is personalized to you, which is why a prescription is so important. A secondhand CPAP machine will leave you at risk for breathing in the previous wearer’s germs, your chance of getting sick, and the features not working as they should.

Let’s jump into why you can’t legally purchase a CPAP machine without a prescription, and why it is crucial to have one.

Why You Need a Prescription to Purchase Certain CPAP Equipment

To purchase a CPAP machine and mask as well as a humidifier, you’ll need to have a prescription in hand. When purchasing a CPAP machine without a prescription, you’re running the risk of receiving equipment that may not work correctly along with the fact that it is most likely not set up for you.

Why Is It Important to Get a CPAP Prescription?

For a successful and healthy CPAP therapy experience, a prescription is key.

Your prescription will tell you:

Your prescription is crucial in treating you based on the recommendations from your sleep study as made by your sleep specialist or doctor.

A sleep study provides data about how you sleep and where the sleep struggles are. Without the results from your doctor, you would be taking a guess regarding the best treatment for you. A prescription turns the insights from your sleep test and makes it actionable, giving you access to successful treatment.

How Long Is Your Prescription Valid?

Some prescriptions for a CPAP machine have a finite expiration date or can be valid for life as judged by how many “refills” your doctor writes on the prescription.

If your prescription states that is it valid for as “lifetime,” then you are able to use it as many times as you need. However, many prescriptions will have an “X” number of refills, meaning if it states five refills, then you will have to see your doctor again on your sixth. Some prescriptions may also have a valid until date, which means it cannot be used after the expiration date.

How Do I Track Down My Old Prescription?

At CPAP.com, we can help you to track down any old prescriptions you may have. To do so, we will send a message to your doctor’s office to ask them for the prescription you have on file.

If your doctor needs help with writing a valid prescription for a CPAP machine, mask, or humidifier, we can tell them what topics need to be covered in order for CPAP.com to be able to process the order.

You also can find your previous doctor and contact his or her office. Just search the doctor’s name or practice name online, and give them a call to see if they still have it and if it is still valid.

If you previously worked with another DME, there’s a chance you can get the prescription from them as they should still have it on file. The previous DME can release your old prescription to you, and you can send it to us.

How to Get a CPAP Prescription

To get a CPAP prescription, follow the steps below:

  1. Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Your Sleep With Your Doctor.
  2. You’ll Setup the Test, and Fall Asleep as You Normally Would.
  3. Your Results Will Then Be Sent to Your Doctor.
  4. Your Doctor Will Write a Prescription Based on Your Sleep Study.

Who Can Write a CPAP Prescription?

To receive a CPAP prescription, you can make an appointment with your:

  • Medical Doctor (MD)
  • Doctor of Osteopathy (DO)
  • Psychiatrist (MD Only)
  • Physicians Assistant (PA)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Dentist
  • Naturopathic Physicians

Do I Need a Prescription for a Sleep Study?

There are two avenues that can be taken to receive a sleep study. Your primary care doctor can refer you to a sleep specialist who will order you a sleep study. Or, if allowed by your insurance, you can also visit a sleep specialist directly who will facilitate the process of getting you a sleep study.

How Much Does a Sleep Study Cost?

In our interview with Dr. Amie Stringfellow, she revealed a breakdown of the cost of a sleep study.

  • In-Home Sleep Studies Typically Cost Around $180
  • In-Lab Sleep Studies Can Cost as Much as $5,000

Your insurance can cover some of the costs, but it all depends on your deductible. Medicare will cover most types of sleep studies, but you may need to pay 20% of the Medicare negotiated amount after you’ve reached a certain deductible.

Where Can You Purchase CPAP Equipment?

After getting your prescription, it’s now time to get on your way to a restful night!

There are usually two ways you can get your CPAP equipment:

  • Buy Online on CPAP.com
  • Go Through Your Insurance Company

Getting a prescription for your CPAP therapy is not only required by law but it also gives you the best chance for therapy success by personalizing the equipment to you as well as ensuring the cleanliness and top-performance of your machine.

18 Comments

  1. Bob the asthmatic Reply

    Why is a prescription needed for an auto-cpap: it is doing all the calibration real-time, sans doctor.

    • The requirement for a prescription is a legal requirement and not an internal policy that we decided on. It’s also better to have a doctor monitoring your progress, and make adjustments if need be.

  2. What happens when you know your partner has sleep apnea (snoring, fatigue, heart rate spikes in the night, high blood pressure, high resting heart rate) but the sleep study doesn’t support it? My husband (finally after two years of begging) had a sleep study. He said he hadn’t slept that well in years, and the study showed just 4 apnea episodes per hour so “he’s fine.” It also showed that he doesn’t snore. What?!? He sleeps on the couch so I can sleep his snoring is so bad. What do we do then? I am afraid I’m going to find him one morning. I’m so frustrated.

  3. Lee Huston Reply

    I have had a machine for years and now mine has been destroyed. I can’t get an appointment with my doctor for 5 months to get. New one. What the hell am I supposed to do? No sleep till these idiots will see me? This is not right, I just need a new machine and I am willing to pay for the machine with or without insurance.

    • Hi Lee,

      I’ve notified a CPAP expert who will be reaching out to you via email. Have you tried tracking down your old prescription? There are a number of places that might still have it. Your doctor may have it on file, the place where you get supplies might have it, any number of places could have your CPAP prescription. Sometimes it can take a little sleuthing, but once you find it, you’re back in business with a CPAP machine.

  4. Even though you have had my prescription on file for years I am always asked to submit a new one. A prescription for these machines once obtained is good for a lifetime so why are you always requiring a new one? Now that I need a new machine and could die without one you are requiring me to spend an additional $300 on a new prescription (Doctor’s visit more then 1 year) because they won’t send a new one without it. Just another medical scam to extract more dollars from sick people’s pockets.

    • Hey There!

      I am going to put you in touch with one of our CPAP experts, who will be in contact with you to help resolve your issue.

  5. I did the sleep study and by the time they contacted me to get a machine months later, I had lost my insurance. They got off the phone with me when they found out there was no insurance and didn’t even ask if I could afford one without. I did find out my settings and I know it drastically changes my life. But I don’t know how to get a machine now. And it would be a stretch for me to afford one. But I definitely can’t afford another sleep study and a machine.

    • CPAP.com, in 2018, recently partnered with a financing company called Bread to help split the cost of the machine into monthly payments. If you have questions, you can reach out to CPAP.com at 1-800-356-5221.

  6. richard steel Reply

    all i want to do is get a new machine. do you no how fustrating it is to find old scripts. my script can’t be found at the suppliers place and was of no help.told me to contact people that did study got hung up on because people do not know how to use a phone. used machine for 10 plus years and sleeping just fine. this David fellow thinks he has all the answers but he is not in my shoes. Just another way to gouge the public.

    • Hi Richard, we know that obtaining a prescription can be really frustrating. We will be more than happy to make an attempt at obtaining the prescription on your behalf. We will need to have your doctor’s contact information such as name, phone, fax number, and the address to your doctor. Keep in mind that the prescription does not have to come from your sleep specialist. If you visit your Primary Care Physician on a regular basis, or a different medical doctor that may be willing to write a prescription for you that will work also. If you are interested in this free service, please contact our customer service department at 1-800-356-5221 and we will be happy to help you.

  7. My Dr. is ordering a new sleep study I can do at home, but I might have a prescription from a while ago. How would I go about finding out?

    • Hey Aaron, to confirm if you have an older prescription, you may want to speak with your doctor to see if they have any record of your previous prescription.

      CPAP.com also offers a free service where we can request a copy of your prescription from your doctor on your behalf.

      If you would like to take advantage of this option, please feel free to contact us, at 1-800-356-5221 and provide us with your doctor’s contact information.

      I hope this helps, have a great day!

  8. I just realized that a prescription is required to buy an auto cpap machine. I promised my dad who is living in another country. What does prescription from doctor help for using the machine? it is automatically!

    this is crazy! 🙁

    • Hi Wei, I am very sorry about any inconvenience that you may experience in obtaining a prescription for your father. In answer to your question, the prescription is required per FDA guidelines. The prescription can however, come from your father’s Primary Care Physician instead of a Sleep Center.

      If you have further questions, or concerns, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

  9. I too have run into conflicts with my doctors office. Saw my doctor and agreed to a home sleep study. Saw the doctor and he wanted a sleep study done at the hospital so the machine would fit right. I did the hospital sleep study. I had an appointment to see the doctor for the third time. After the Cover-19 stay at home order came I called the doctors office and said I really didn’t want to come in. The office insisted I had because of medicare. I cancelled the appointment. They will not give me a prescription.

    So two doctors visits and two sleep studies and they won’t give me a prescription because medicare won’t let them according to them.

    What options do I have to get a cpap?

    This is crazy!!!!!

    • Hi John, my apologies for the delayed response. I’m so sorry to hear about the difficulties you’re having with obtaining a prescription for your machine. Usually, Medicare, has no bearing on your doctor providing you with a prescription. However, if their required process isn’t completed, they may not cover the CPAP machine.

      Since per the FDA guidelines, a prescription is required in order for you to purchase a machine, you may try speaking with the doctor once more to see if for the time being they can offer a prescription based off the hospital sleep study.

      Most offices are understanding of patients not being able to come into the office, or even ask your doctor, if there is an option for a virtual visit due to COVID-19. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to get the prescription from a sleep specialist, your primary care physician can write a prescription for you as well.

      Please feel free to reach us with additional questions, or concerns at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      We wish you the best!

  10. Hi I live in Taiwan. The prescription signed by a Taiwanese doctor is written in Chinese. Can I attach a Chinese prescription to purchase?

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