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For all the patients who have insurance through Kaiser Permanente(KP), you should not worry at all. This managed care medical group actually has an excellent program in place to test, diagnose and treat their sleep apnea patients. Also, because Kaiser handles all aspects of medical care, they are able to keep the entire sleep apnea program in-house which results in better patient compliance.
The process for Kaiser patients who are suspected of having sleep apnea goes something like this:
- Patients receive a referral to have a sleep study conducted at home
- Patients are then given a home sleep study device. Currently, most of the Kaiser hospitals use the Itamar WatchPAT home sleep testing device to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea
- After the study results are completed, the patient is then explained what the diagnosis is.
- If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, the next step is to have a home titration study conducted.
- The home titration is performed with an Auto-PAP machine which will record your data. This machine is a form of a CPAP machine and requires that the patient wears a CPAP face mask which will allow the transfer of air pressure to the face.
- After the machine is worn for several nights, the data is recorded to see how the apnea and breathing events changed with CPAP air pressure. If there as improvement, that is great news and is usually expected with this type of therapy.
- The attending sleep doctor will write a prescription for the patient for an Auto-PAP machine, and the patient will then start using therapy.
- If the patient does not have DME benefits, the patient will need to purchase a CPAP machine on their own over the internet or some other ways. The usual cost for an Auto-PAP machine that is purchased online with a mask and humidifier is roughly $800-$900 with shipping in the United States. Prices may vary a bit depending on what specific mask is used.
- If at any point the patient has questions about the sleep apnea or CPAP machine, they can follow up with the Apnea clinic at Kaiser.
Overall, Kaiser has a very comprehensive Sleep Apnea Clinic which makes sure that patients don’t fall through the cracks. If you are suspecting that you or a loved one who has Kaiser Insurance is suffering from un-diagnosed sleep apnea, you should instruct them to speak with their physician about it and have a home sleep study soon.