This is a question I have asked to me nearly every day. The answer may surprise many of you.
In my opinion you should replace the supplies as needed. That may be more or less than what your insurance will pay for. For example, some people will go through cushions or nose pillows faster regardless of how often or thoroughly they clean them due to the fact that their face produces more oils than others. On the other hand, if someone washes their cushion daily it may “last” for several months. Just because it lasts, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be replaced though.
Running shoes are a good analogy for CPAP supplies. One runner runs outdoors, on trail that is dirty. The other runs on a treadmill. The first runner’s shoes will get dirty in one day, he may wash them and they will become clean but they are still essentially new in their ability provide support and cushioning. However, treadmill runner can run for several years before his shoes begin to look dirty. Yet, their ability to provide support and cushioning is gone even though the shoe looks clean.
As time passes, the trail runner can easily know he needs new shoes just by looking. Yet the treadmill runner just needs to try on a pair to fully realize that his shoes are worn out even though they look new.
Your CPAP mask can be the same way. Just because it looks clean and keeps a seal doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to be replaced. A study done at Harvard Medical School 1 shows that after 6 months it is impossible to get all the bacteria out of a mask regardless of what you use to wash it with or how vigorously you wash it.
Insurance companies have decided to allow frequent replacement of CPAP supplies for a good reason. They realize that new CPAP supplies increase the likelihood that you will consistently use your CPAP. Consistent CPAP use equals better health for you AND less overall health care costs for you (e.g. deductibles) and your insurance company. A $100 mask is much cheaper than a $500 ER visit or the lifetime cost of diabetes or hypertension. Most insurance companies closely follow Medicare’s CPAP supplies replacement schedule. See the table below for Medicare’s schedule or call your insurance company to see when you would be eligible for new supplies.
Sound Oxygen Service will remind you when your CPAP supplies are due to be replaced. However, you can give us a call anytime if you’d like to order new supplies or to schedule your personalized (re)mask fitting (509) 396-8344.
* The comfort care pad is used to reduce redness on the face where the mask contacts the skin.
1. Horowitz S, Horowitz A, Chun C,. Sleep and Breathing: Care of CPAP Equipment A Factor in Compliance and Hygiene. SLEEP, Volume 32, Abstract Supplement, 2009: A207.