Study finds free CPAP machines save on truckers’ medical costs

A research of 1000’s of truck drivers who got free CPAP machines to deal with sleep apnea saved the corporate an estimated $441 per thirty days, per driver in medical insurance coverage costs from health care issues aside from sleep apnea.

The findings point out the financial savings could possibly be even greater if different components have been considered, lead writer Stephen Burks, professor of economics and administration on the University of Minnesota-Morris, advised Fleet Owner. “We didn’t have the data to look at other savings such as lost workdays, medications, injury costs and crash costs. The last one could be particularly significant.”

Untreated sleep apnea is related to many antagonistic health situations, together with cardiovascular occasions in males, systemic hypertension and pulmonary hypertension, depression, insomnia, Type II Diabetes, weight problems, and mortality.

“Accordingly, untreated OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) has been implicated in higher healthcare utilization and higher healthcare costs,” the report acknowledged. 

The research checked out medical information of drivers from truckload provider Schneider National who acquired free sleep apnea diagnoses and therapy. The program started in 2006, and most testing now could be performed at dwelling or in sleeper bunks. Schneider officers couldn’t be reached for remark, however the firm web site notes {that a} 2016 research (additionally performed by Burks and his group) confirmed “the rate of serious, preventable crashes was five times higher among truck drivers with OSA who did not adhere to Schneider’s sleep apnea treatment program, compared with matched controls.”

Like many giant carriers, Schneider is self-insured, so financial savings accrue on to the underside line. Smaller carriers can profit, too, the report acknowledged.

“Medical insurance providers to smaller carriers may expect similar benefits to those of the study firm, if they organize and manage an OSA program for their trucking firm customers that is similar to that of the study firm. The evidence presented suggests that medical insurance firms might lower their net costs by offering such customers an OSA program for their driver employees with screening, diagnosis, and treatment as preventive care at low or no charge, as long as the motor carrier makes the program mandatory (which is separately justifiable on safety grounds),” in response to the report.

One limitation of the research, stated Burks, is that some excessive medical-cost drivers weren’t included. The research famous: “medical and security choice differentially eliminated high-cost drivers earlier than they might enter the research and is more likely to have particularly affected drivers with critical OSA and/or critical issues.”

Burks stated the potential impact of together with these drivers can’t be decided, though it’s doubtless that their inclusion may result in larger financial savings. The analysis additionally emphasised the $441 per thirty days financial savings is a snapshot in time, and as drivers with sleep apnea age, their medical situations may worsen. That might end in even larger financial savings.

From 1976-86, Burks labored as truck driver, which he stated stoked his ardour for analysis into the health of drivers.

“My commitment comes from being on the road,” he stated.  

When requested what would occur if all carriers have been required to institute necessary sleep testing and free CPAP gear, he stated: “It would help stop resistance to standard OSA screening. From a regulatory view, I don’t see this happening, but if it did it would level the playing field for drivers and carriers, and that would be better for the industry.”

The report concluded: “Trucking firm managers and their medical insurance providers should consider these findings on cost savings, along with earlier findings on the reduction in the risk of serious preventable truck crashes, when considering OSA programs. Trucking safety regulators should consider them with respect to mandating OSA screening standards for commercial motor vehicle operators.”

The research was printed within the peer-reviewed journal Sleep.

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