mulberry outlet sale Lawmaker counting dollars over costs of sleep treatment
OKLAHOMA CITY While many people struggle to catch Pokemon these days, one lawmaker has set his sights on Oklahomans who are struggling to catch something more elusive than cartoon characters a good night’s sleep.
In a move likely to cause a few nightmares for sleep professionals, Rep. Lewis Moore, R Arcadia, wants lawmakers to study the benefits of sleep studies, and specifically whether doctors charge too much for them.
Moore said the question occurred to him when a sleep doctor mentioned concerns that in patient studies cost too much. Moore said assessments can run $3,000 to $8,000 per night.
While it’s hard to pinpoint how many Oklahomans seek treatment for sleep disorders, Moore, who serves on the House Insurance Committee, estimates the number is in the thousands.
“It’ll be very interesting because people make a lot of money doing it,” he said of the legislative study, which has already roused the sleep industry. “There will be a lot of angst among the facilities.”
Moore said he wants to know if there’s a cheaper way, especially for 36,000 state workers, school employees and family members who are enrolled in the state’s health insurance plan. Taxpayer money, he noted, helps cover the costs of their premiums.
Plus, he notes, the federal government is weighing a rule that requires people with commercial drivers licenses to be tested for sleep disorders. If implemented, more Oklahomans will be looking for sleep assessments.
Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a sleep doctor at the University of Southern California, agreed it’s a “hot topic” and noted that Oklahoma isn’t the first state to look into the balance between treating sleep disorders, the cost and how to pay for it.
“I think when we talk about sleep, we know it’s essential,” he said.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine doesn’t track how many people seek sleep treatment, though Dasgupta said 20 million Americans have sought help for sleep apnea alone. That disorder can cause snoring, inconsistent breathing and fatigue.
About 70 million people in the United States suffer a sleep problem. Nearly 3 in 5 of those have a chronic issue, according to the sleep academy.
Insomnia, the most common disorder, costs companies $63.2 billion a year in lost work, and drowsy drivers cause more than 300,000 accidents a year, the academy says.
In the meantime, the insurance industry is pushing patients toward less invasive, home based assessments, Dasgupta said.
Dasgupta said inpatient studies in which someone sleeps in a facility while connected to wires and under constant supervision don’t cost as much as Moore estimates, but they still run $600 to $2,000 for patients with private insurance. The studies cost about $600 for Medicare patients.
Home based studies, by comparison, cost insurers about $300, or $125 for Medicare patients, he said. Those assessments require patients to wear a pulse monitor on a finger, a belt around the waist and a thin nasal tube. Patients sleep in their own bed, and results are sent to a doctor for analysis.
So far this year, Dasgupta said he has conducted 30 to 40 inpatient studies. His other patients he did not say how many received home treatments.
“Home sleep studies are definitely here to stay,” he said.
Still, Dasgupta said they come with a risk of not having the resources on hand to identify and address the most serious disorders.
“When you have a lot of those cuts, it affects patients in a lot of ways people don’t realize,” he said. “I hope we find a median. There’s definitely a big need. I hope we don’t have to sacrifice it based on finances.”
For many Oklahomans, a good night’s sleep is worth every penny. But Moore doesn’t necessarily want that money to come from taxpayers.
“We want to make sure we’re not spending money we don’t need to spend,” he said. “We need to find the most efficient way to bring great solutions to as many people as we can.”