Economics of Sleep Apnea

Aside from the related health risks untreated sleep apnea can endanger us in other ways such as operating a car, boat, or plane and this is the driver of the economics of sleep apnea. For example, people with moderate to severe sleep apnea have an up to a 15-fold increase of being involved in a traffic accident (reference: Horstmann et al. Sleep 2000) and are at twice the risk of having a traffic accident (reference: Teran-Santos et al. New Engl J Med 1999). Treating all US drivers suffering from sleep apnea would save $11.1 billion in collision costs and save 980 lives annually (reference: Sassani et al. Sleep 2004).

The economic consequences of untreated sleep disordered breathing are staggering. Undiagnosed patients used $200,000 more in the two-year period prior to diagnosis than matched controls (reference: Kryger et al. Sleep 1996) and prior to sleep apnea diagnosis, patients utilized 23–50% more medical resources(reference: Smith et al. Chest 2002).

The total economic cost of sleepiness is approximately $43 billion to 56 billion (reference: Leger et al. Sleep 1994) and undiagnosed moderate to severe sleep apnea in middle-aged adults may cause $3.4 billion in additional medical costs in the United States (reference: Kapur et al. Sleep 1999).

Sleep apnea report

A report about the economics of sleep apnea

In reports commissioned by the AASM and prepared by the global research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, it explains in detail the economics of sleep apnea. It was calculated that the annual economic burden of undiagnosed sleep apnea among U.S. adults is approximately $149.6 billion. The estimated costs include $86.9 billion in lost productivity, $26.2 billion in motor vehicle accidents, and $6.5 billion in workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea also increases the risk of costly health complications such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. The report estimates that undiagnosed sleep apnea also costs $30 billion annually in increased health care utilization and medication costs related to these comorbid health risks.

If you want to read more about the economics of sleep apnea the reports are available for free download on the AASM website at

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