Need a Prescription Before Buying a CPAP Machine?

August 12, 2020

You may have been wondering, "Can I buy a CPAP machine without a doctor?" Well, we are going to clear up the issue once and for all, because you may have come across conflicting information. Keep reading to find out whether you can get a CPAP machine without prescription requirements.

"Can I buy a CPAP machine without a doctor?"

Doctor examining sleep apnea patient.

The short answer is no. While you can technically buy a CPAP without prescription, you do legally need a prescription for it, according to US federal law. This prescription will be both for the CPAP machine and the sleep study that finds out whether you have a condition, such as sleep apnea, which would necessitate the use of a CPAP machine.

Why do you need a prescription for a medical device? It's not like it's a drug, right? Well, the issue comes down to medical devices being under Food and Drug Administration regulation. This means you cannot easily buy a CPAP machine online without prescription and in most cases, you will be asked for one.

There are three distinct classes when it comes to medical devices, Class I, II, and III. CPAP machines fall into Class II, which means they need a prescription to use. Your health insurance provider will want to make sure you purchased a valid device. Otherwise, it will not cover the costs associated with buying it. However, there are disadvantages to going through your insurance company, given the more bureaucratic process that can take more time and, in some instances, more money.

Besides an insurance requirement, there is a need for a sleep study to determine what the ideal pressure settings will be for you. Everyone will have different settings that apply to their unique sleep condition. This is something that only qualified physicians can determine through a sleep study. When they provide you with a CPAP prescription, it will note the best settings to use on the device to ensure your sleep condition is safely and adequately addressed.

Can I Buy a CPAP Machine Without a Sleep Study?

Sleep Study Test

If you were wondering, "Can I Buy a CPAP Machine Without a Sleep Study?" then the answer is yes, but with a major but. Your insurance provider will not pay for it since it will require you to provide documentation that involves a sleep study. The study will only be funded when it's determined that a test needs to be performed. Only a doctor can do this, yet it is quite often that a doctor will skip this crucial step. By doing so, insurance companies can use it as an excuse to deny paying for the CPAP machine.

Yes, you can buy a CPAP machine without prescription online, but doing so is unsafe. How can you determine whether the settings they decide on are right for you? You can't, which makes it dangerous to get a CPAP without a prescription. There are all sorts of settings that need to be precise, including various pressures, ramp time, intentional leaks, and others. There is also the question of whether a backup rate is required due to central apnea if the condition goes beyond being just obstructive. Only a physician who has seen you in-person can determine all of this by conducting a sleep study.

How Do I Get a CPAP Machine Prescription?

Doctor giving an RX prescription.

Many medical professionals have the authority to write you a prescription for a CPAP machine. These include:

  • Physicians
  • Naturopaths
  • Dentists
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Physician's Assistants
  • Psychiatrists
  • Sleep Specialists

If you have trouble making an appointment to see your regular doctor, you can obtain a CPAP prescription from one of the other types of medical professions on this list. When you receive your prescription, you can move onto deciding which CPAP machine is best for you.

Wrapping Up

One in five people in the US have some degree of sleep apnea. Nearly 40,000 people die every year in America due to this sleep condition. This is why you should not only get a CPAP machine but get a prescription for one before buying it. Doing so will keep you operating within the law and potentially save your life. You should have a clear understanding of how your sleep apnea should be treated before you begin using a CPAP machine.

CPAP without prescription

Written by The Sleeplay Team

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