Sleep studies. A sleep study is a clinical test that tells us whether or not we have some type of a sleeping or breathing-related sleep disorder. Without them, diagnosing and treating issues like snoring or sleep apnea is just guesswork. Even with your spouse describing — in great detail — how you’re sleeping through the night, a medical provider still needs to be able to see the data on your vitals before effectively treating your symptoms.
If you’ve never had a sleep study, you’re probably wondering about things like, “Do I have to stay overnight in a lab?” Or “How much is a sleep study going to cost?” The real thing you should be worried about is how can you not afford a sleep study? Especially when you consider how an untreated sleeping disorder could actually cost you your life. No, we’re not exaggerating. People with untreated sleep apnea are proven to be more at-risk for life-threatening medical emergencies like heart attack and stroke. When you look at it like that, the cost of a sleep study is invaluable.
How Much do Sleep Studies Cost?
The price of a sleep study in Raleigh will depend on three factors: the type of sleep study you’re getting, where you’re getting it, and whether you have medical insurance. Each of these variables will fluctuate from one person to the next, impacting the out of pocket cost for a clinical sleep study. Fortunately, you can expect an exact price up front, prior to completing the test. That way you know what amount you’re paying out of pocket and can “comparison shop” if need be, before you follow through with the actual process.
Cost of Different Types of Sleep Studies
Since the price for sleep studies is typically one set rate (as opposed to something like, say, dental fillings that can range in size between teeth) it’s easier to get a fixed price quote. Just be sure to ask which type of sleep study it is. Some cost more than others, because they’re administered differently.
For example, if you’re doing a full-fledged sleep study in an overnight medical clinic, there’s a lot of extra manpower involved. You’ll have a clinician overseeing the study and monitoring your vitals from another room while you’re staying overnight in their clinical sleep lab. Some people have concerns about the accuracy of clinical sleep studies, because they’re worried they won’t sleep the same way in a foreign environment as they would in their own bed. Because they know at home, they’ll feel a lot more relaxed and in a routine, whereas being in a sleep lab might seem more like staying at a hotel with a one-way mirror or camera on the wall.
All of that being said, it costs more to run a sleep study out of a medical clinic because of the overhead expenses that are related to the process. From keeping the lights on and paying the salary for the clinician to operating machines and interpreting all of the data, there are multiple layers involved. When you need a high-level of screening and evaluation on specific sleep disorders, you’ll definitely want to pay for an overnight test at a lab.
On the other hand, you also have the alternative of taking your sleep study home with you. Bedside or home sleep studies are a scaled down version of the same type of study you would have in a medical lab. The lower-level of detail still includes all of the basic vital data that you need for a diagnosis, but it isn’t conducted at the same intensity level as a sleep study being administered by a clinician. Instead, you bring the monitoring device home and put it on when you’re about to go to sleep. It tracks everything from your respiratory and heart rate to your blood oxygen levels and snoring. When you wake up the next morning you stop the machine, take off the sensors, and then return the device back to the medical or dental office who administered it.
Home sleep studies are generally much more affordable than the overnight in-lab option. Simply because the patient (you) is administering it themselves and there’s no separate clinician to monitor them overnight. Everything is recorded and then interpreted by a specialist during traditional business hours. So, if you’re paying out of pocket for your sleep study, it’s definitely a more affordable option to go with a take-home option when possible.
Choosing an Affordable Sleep Study Clinic
Let’s say that your medical provider really wants you to have an overnight sleep study conducted. Sleep studies are typically prescribed, similar to a medication. And a lot of people will price-shop when it comes to filling prescription drugs. You can do the same thing for your sleep study if there is more than one option in your area. Ultimately the cost of your test will depend on cost-of-living expenses in that community, the type of lab you choose, and who is overseeing the exam. You always have the option of asking what the cash price is for a sleep study.
But a lot of people forget that they even have the option to request a take-home sleep study. Especially if their physician doesn’t work in partnership with a Raleigh sleep dentistry clinic. Since dentists treat upper-airway related apnea symptoms, a take-home sleep study is usually more than adequate to achieve the proper diagnosis needed for oral appliance therapy. But if your specific medical provider only offers treatments like CPAP and has access to a sleep lab, their default may be to go straight to the sleep clinic.
To save money on your sleep study cost, ask if you qualify for an at-home test. Even if you’re just paying out of pocket without health coverage, the difference could save you hundreds of dollars.
Sleep Study Coverage by Medical Insurance
Hopefully you have some type of medical insurance, health savings/flex spending account, or are part of a medi-share plan. If you do, it will typically reduce your out-of-pocket cost to a much lower amount or even a deductible. Depending on if your provider is in-network and the type of healthcare coverage you have, you might only be paying a $45 copay for a sleep study. Take-home tests usually run the price of a copay. If you’re having an overnight test in a sleep lab, you’ll want to ask them if you’re also going to need to pay a deductible. Again, all of this varies from person to person depending on the type of contractual agreement with your insurance policy.
With or without insurance, a take-home study will usually be your cheapest option. Not just on an out-of-pocket level, but also depending on the personal time investment you’re putting into it. If you have to take off from work or arrange childcare, the “costs” can be higher in the overall scheme of things.
Take-home sleep studies are usually covered by medical insurance, as long as your policy covers other types of sleep tests. If you’re working with a prescribing sleep dentistry team like the one at Raleigh Dental Arts, you can usually figure out what the cost will be before the test is even prescribed.
What if your sleep study comes from a dentist? In that case, you’ll want to be sure to choose a Raleigh sleep dentistry team that can work with your medical insurance. Dental insurance doesn’t cover sleep studies, even if you’re getting an oral appliance. But medical coverage can! The tricky part is that most dentists don’t accept medical coverage. Fortunately, Raleigh Dental Arts does.
Your Life is Priceless
The modest price for a sleep study — whether it’s overnight in a lab or one you take home — is priceless when you realize that it could actually help save your life. Unfortunately, many people with severe sleep apnea conditions never realize their sleeping disorder could be life threatening. The cost of a sleep study is a small drop in the bucket compared to trips to the emergency room, lifesaving surgeries, and years of prescription medications.
Investing in a sleep study today could — literally — save your life. And when you look at it that way, paying a $45 or $50 copay seems like absolutely nothing.
Home Sleep Studies in Raleigh
Raleigh Dental Arts offers sleep dentistry therapies such as oral appliances for obstructive sleep apnea. We also have partnerships with licensed sleep providers to prescribe home sleep studies when necessary. That way you can access a take-home device without having to schedule a separate appointment with a completely different specialist’s office.
Are you experiencing the warning signs of sleep apnea? If you have high blood pressure, fatigue, snore frequently, or a large neck circumference, those are just a few of the warning signs. Contact Raleigh Dental Arts today to schedule a sleep screening with our experienced dentists. We’ll let you know whether we suspect a condition like an obstructive airway and can direct you what to do next.
Call our Raleigh office now to get started. Your health depends on it.