Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is the leading treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but the cost of a new CPAP machine can be an obstacle for many people. While buying a second-hand model might be an easy way to save money with other big purchases, there are downsides to buying a used CPAP machine that you should be aware of before choosing that option. 

To help you make an informed decision, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of buying a used CPAP machine. We’ll then take a closer look at common questions and concerns you might have about used CPAP machines, such as the best place to buy one and whether they’re covered by insurance.

Is It OK to Buy a Used CPAP Machine?

Buying and using a second-hand CPAP machine can be a relatively safe way of saving money on the most effective form of treatment for OSA, but it’s important not to pick one up on Facebook or at the local garage sale. 

A CPAP machine is a complex medical device that requires personalized settings, regular upkeep, and careful cleaning to be sanitary and effective. Buying a used CPAP machine from a neighbor bypasses the steps that would ensure that the device is fit to be used and calibrated correctly for your unique needs. 

However, used CPAP machines that have been properly refurbished are available from both brick-and-mortar and online CPAP retailers. These units are the safest option if you choose to buy a used CPAP machine, though there are still some downsides associated with their use.

Buying a Used CPAP Machine

  • Cost can be significantly lower than that of a new CPAP machine
  • Lower prices may make it easier to get a machine with the features you want
  • Makes it possible to replace your favorite model that has been discontinued by the manufacturer
  • Safety and cleanliness issues are possible when buying from a less than reputable source
  • Lacks the support and peace of mind of a manufacturer’s warranty
  • May not include up-to-date features that can make CPAP therapy more comfortable

Used vs. Refurbished CPAP Machines

While second-hand CPAP machines sold by an authorized CPAP retailer can be described as used, it is more accurate to call them refurbished. 

Ensuring that a used CPAP machine is safe to use involves cleaning it inside and out, replacing worn or unsanitary parts, checking to make sure that its pressure settings are accurate and reliable, deleting all previous data, and returning the machine to factory settings. 

CPAP machines that have gone through this process will be described as refurbished by the retailer. However, some unscrupulous second-hand sellers may co-opt this language, so it’s important to double-check that you are purchasing your used machine from a legitimate CPAP retailer.

Where to Buy a Refurbished CPAP Machine

The best place — and the only legal place — to buy a refurbished CPAP machine is an authorized CPAP retailer. Brick-and-mortar CPAP stores offer the chance to check machines out in person, while online CPAP retailers usually have a wider selection and lower prices. 

You may sometimes see used CPAP machines available on sites such as Facebook, eBay, or even Amazon. These listings are generally against the terms of use for these sites, but they sometimes slip through. However, it is not safe to buy a used CPAP machine from these sellers. It is also not advisable to buy a used CPAP machine at a garage sale.

Do You Need a Prescription to Buy a Refurbished CPAP Machine?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies CPAP machines as a class II medical device, which means that they can only be purchased with a doctor’s prescription. This is true for both new and refurbished devices, which is one reason why it is important to purchase used CPAP machines from an authorized CPAP retailer.

Can You Use Insurance to Buy a Refurbished CPAP Machine?

Although insurance policies can vary significantly between providers, those that provide coverage for CPAP machines may cover the purchase of a refurbished device from an authorized CPAP retailer. 

If you are uncertain about your provider’s policies, it is worth contacting them directly to learn whether they provide coverage for refurbished CPAP machines. Many CPAP retailers have experience with this process and may also provide additional guidance. 

Health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA) can be used to purchase durable medical equipment like CPAP machines. This often covers refurbished CPAP machines purchased from an authorized retailer, but it’s important to double check your account’s policies before purchasing to ensure you fulfill any required conditions.

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