Study: Sleep Apnea Treatment Can Cut Healthcare Costs

A recent study has found that providing drivers with a sleep apnea treatment program could be good for your fleet’s bottom line.

A joint study published in the medical journal SLEEP conducted by Precision Pulmonary Diagnostics, Harvard Medical School, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the University of Minnesota-Morris has demonstrated that employer-sponsored sleep apnea screening, diagnosis, and treatment yields significant health cost savings in employee health insurance claim costs.

The study, entitled “Employer-Mandated Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment and Healthcare Cost Savings Among Truckers,” analyzed over 1,200 commercial truck drivers who were diagnosed with sleep apnea through their employer’s sponsored program and compared their non-sleep apnea related health claims over a four-year period.

What the study found was that drivers with sleep apnea who accepted treatment via  positive airway pressure (CPAP) saved an average of $441 in non-sleep apnea health costs per month compared to drivers who weren’t treated.

One reason for this is that poor sleep quality and quantity has been linked to worsening other serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.

“Obstructive sleep apnea continues to be an unrecognized, insidious driver of excessive and avoidable healthcare costs for all employers,” said Mark Berger, president and CEO of Precision Pulmonary Diagnostics. “Addressing the epidemic magnitude of this condition in society can dramatically reduce employer healthcare costs.”

The study also found a link between Sleep Apnea treatment and reduced driver turnover and improved retention, which also adds to the cost savings for fleets.

Well-rested drivers also reduce the risk of a preventable crash. A previous study by the same research team found that untreated drivers with sleep apnea had a five-fold greater risk of a serious crash. Those with treatment had a crash risk that was identical to drivers without sleep apnea.

To read the full, peer-reviewed study, click here.

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