💡 Key Takeaways
- Prescription is Mandatory: You cannot purchase a CPAP machine, mask, or humidifier without a valid prescription in the U.S. due to FDA regulations.
- Why You Need a Prescription: A prescription ensures you get the right treatment and equipment based on a professional diagnosis, enhancing the effectiveness of your sleep apnea therapy.
- Getting a Prescription: You can obtain a prescription either through a traditional doctor’s visit or via telemedicine services that offer at-home sleep studies.
- Supplies Without Prescription: While the main equipment requires a prescription, you can purchase replacement parts and accessories like fabric wraps and filters without one.
- Insurance vs. Out-of-Pocket: You have the option to acquire CPAP equipment either through your insurance provider or by purchasing from an online retailer, each with its own set of pros and cons.
Whether you’re purchasing CPAP equipment through your insurance provider, preferred Durable Medical Equipment (DME) service, or online retailer, a valid prescription is required to buy a CPAP machine, CPAP mask, and CPAP humidifier.
Navigating the world of CPAP therapy, insurance coverage, and prescription requirements can be daunting, but we’re here to help. Since the beginning, for over twenty years, our goal at CPAP.com has been to connect people with the information and supplies they need for healthy and successful sleep apnea therapy—and that includes retrieving your prescription from your physician on your behalf.
In this article, we will be discussing common misconceptions surrounding prescriptions, explaining why it’s important to have a prescription, and sharing ways you can obtain a prescription (including resources to help you track down an old prescription if needed).
Let’s jump into why you can’t purchase a CPAP machine without a prescription, why it’s important to have one, and several ways to easily get a new prescription or track down an old prescription.
Why Do You Need a Prescription for CPAP Equipment?
CPAP machines, masks, and humidifiers are classified and regulated by the FDA as Class II medical devices, which means a valid prescription is required for a legal sale to take place. In 2018, the FDA reclassified CPAP machines from Class III to Class II in an effort to spur innovation for a better user experience by relaxing regulatory burdens.
Sleep apnea can be a very difficult condition to adequately assess and treat because there are several different underlying issues that could be at play depending on the type of apnea events you experience. By working with a healthcare professional you’ll be prescribed the exact treatment and equipment you need to improve your quality of life.
Can I Buy a CPAP Machine Without a Doctor’s Prescription?
As stated above, the FDA regulates CPAP machines and requires companies that sell these sleep apnea therapy devices to require a prescription from anyone intending to purchase one. To be clear, you cannot purchase a CPAP machine without a valid prescription from your doctor or medical provider with related licensing.
To receive a diagnosis and prescription, you will need to complete a sleep study in a lab or at home.
Can I Get CPAP Supplies Without a Prescription?
While a prescription is required for machines, masks, and humidifiers, you do not need a prescription to purchase CPAP supplies such as replacement mask parts, tubing/hoses (with the exception of some heated tubing), external batteries/power supplies, or filters for your machine.
CPAP accessories such as fabric wraps, aromatherapy bundles, CPAP pillows, and chinstraps can also be purchased without a prescription.
If you’re really savvy, you’ll find that you can typically even piece together a mask, or get pretty darn close, by searching for the mask parts individually.
To make this even easier, if you’re wondering whether or not you need a prescription for a certain piece of equipment, simply search for it on our website! Every single product that requires a prescription for purchase will have an icon under the ‘Add to Cart’ button that states “Prescription Required”.
Why Is It Important to Get a CPAP Prescription?
For a successful and healthy sleep therapy experience, a prescription is key.
Your CPAP prescription will tell you:
- Your Correct Therapy Pressure
- The Type of Device You Need (CPAP, APAP, BiPAP)
- Your Sleep Apnea Diagnosis as There Are Three Different Types of Sleep Apnea
- Your Recommended CPAP Mask Type (Full Face, Nasal, Nasal Pillow)
- Your Replacement Part Schedule
Your prescription is crucial in treating you based on the recommendations from your sleep study as made by your sleep specialist or doctor. A prescription turns the insights from your sleep test into an actionable way forward, giving you access to successful treatment.
How To Get a CPAP Prescription
Acquiring a CPAP prescription is not as straightforward as simply asking your doctor for a prescription. But with recent advancements in telemedicine, getting diagnosed with sleep apnea and acquiring a prescription for CPAP therapy has never been easier!
How To Get a CPAP Prescription Online
An exciting new option in the digital age is to have a sleep study conducted in the comfort of your own home! Our home sleep apnea test involves a consultation with a real doctor and is a great way to get a CPAP prescription online.
At-home sleep studies are not as comprehensive and cannot diagnose Central Sleep Apnea, but they’re perfectly capable of determining whether you’re a candidate for sleep apnea therapy based on your indicators for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Our home sleep test can prescribe you with an APAP machine directly, but others may require you to take your results to your primary care doctor in order for them to write you an appropriate prescription.
Get a CPAP Prescription From Your Doctor
The old way: You’ll need to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your sleep health to rule out other underlying conditions. Your doctor can then write you a prescription for a sleep study that you’ll participate in. After reviewing the results of your sleep study, your doctor can write you a prescription for a CPAP machine if necessary.
To get a CPAP prescription, follow the steps below:
- Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Your Sleep With Your Doctor. Express Interest in Participating in a Sleep Study.
- You’ll Setup the Test, and Fall Asleep as You Normally Would.
- Your Results Will Then Be Sent to Your Doctor.
- Your Doctor Will Write a Prescription Based on Your Sleep Study.
How Do I Get a Copy of My Existing Prescription?
If you already have a valid prescription but need help obtaining it, we can help!
At CPAP.com, we’re happy to collect your prescription for you to help you save time and get one step closer to better sleep. There are a couple of ways you can request for CPAP.com to retrieve your prescription:
- During checkout choose “Contact my doctor for me”.
While completing your purchase, you can select “Contact My Doctor For Me” if you want our team to send a prescription request to your provider. You can search for and locate your doctor by entering their information into the box and pressing search. Once the search results are displayed, select your doctor. If you are unable to find your doctor, click “Add Your Doctor.”
2. You can also request CPAP.com to collect your prescription from your doctor on your behalf.
We will send a message to your doctor’s office to ask them for the prescription you have on file. Simply follow the steps below to have us request your prescription for you:
- Log In to Your CPAP.com Account
- Click “My Account” In the Top Right Corner
- Select “Send a Prescription” From the Left-Hand Column
- Select “Contact My Doctor for Me”
- Enter Your Doctor’s Information and Select Their Name Below
- If You Do Not See Your Doctor, Click “Add New Doctor” and Enter Their Information in the Field
- Enter Your Date of Birth
- Agree to the Terms and Conditions
- Click “Submit”
Our prescription request service is currently available for customers with doctors located in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
If you do not have a prescription yet, you can have your doctor fill out our Standard Prescription Form or Provent Prescription Form and submit via email or fax. Prescription submissions can be accepted by email at email@example.com or by fax at 866-353-2727.
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.
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)
- Naturopathic Physicians
Prescriptions written by the following medical practitioners are not accepted:
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Respiratory Caregivers
- Medical Assistants
While your prescription can simply be written on a standard prescription pad, we also offer a General Prescription Form to send to your prescribing physician.
What Does My Prescription Need to Say?
There are quite a few things that need to be on your CPAP prescription, and if you have the wrong phrases in the wrong places, it could affect your ability to get the right equipment for your needs. To help simplify this, we’ve gathered a list of everything your prescription needs to have on it.
Here are a few basic requirements of any prescription for any CPAP equipment:
- Your physician’s contact information/NPI
- Your physician’s signature
- The patient’s full name
- The Date of the Order
- Length of Need
How Long Is My 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 it is valid for a “lifetime,” then you are able to use it as many times as you need (this is also expressed as PRN, LON, 99, or 99 months). 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.
Where Can I Purchase CPAP Equipment?
Once you’ve secured your prescription, you can be on your way to acquiring the supplies you need to get started with your sleep apnea therapy.
The two main ways you can get your CPAP equipment are:
Going through insurance can be stressful for some, and there’s a whole other world of policies and deductibles to dive into on the matter; it’s best to get in contact with your agent to explore your options and see what’s best for you.
Simply put, your insurance provider will typically decide for you what equipment they’ll cover and what you can get.
For this reason, most people prefer to do their own shopping, and typically save money by paying out of pocket for their CPAP supplies and equipment.
To summarize, getting a prescription for sleep therapy is not only required by law but it also gives you the best chance for therapy success. By ensuring that your equipment is personalized to your needs, you’re setting yourself up for a cleaner, safer, and more effective CPAP therapy with greater peace of mind, and empowering yourself by taking control of your own healthcare.
If you decide to go through CPAP.com for your CPAP needs, we have a number of different ways for you to send your prescription information to us to make the buying process easier:
- Fax your prescription, toll-free, to 866-353-2727, or internationally to 713-541-7377
- Upload your prescription via the prescriptions section of your CPAP.com account.