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Alaska Sleep Education Center

6 Pros and Cons of Purchasing CPAP Equipment and Supplies Online

Posted by Laci Michaud on Mar 16, 2016 11:35:16 AM

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We all want more “bang for our buck” in today’s super sized and fast paced economy.  So, why should your durable medical equipment (DME) or your continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine be any different?  

At the Alaska Sleep Clinic we are asked that very question all the time “Why are items online cheaper?” and “Why can’t I purchase my supplies online?” 

The answer is, you can.  The choice is yours to make, however, we want to point out a few pros and cons to purchasing your sleep apnea masks and other CPAP supplies online.

6 PROS of purchasing CPAP Equipment and Supplies Online

  1. Save money:

    Isn’t this the biggest reason we shop online to save a few bucks?  Normally these larger online/warehouse stores buy machines and products in bulk.  Bulk buying allows for them to receive discounted rates which they can normally pass on to the customer.

  2. Save time and gas:

    Because when you live in a large city who wants to drive around to different locations looking for the perfect mask or tubing? Especially driving in our treacherous Alaskan winters.  By shopping online you save money on gas and commuting time.

  3. Convenient around the clock ordering:

    Who doesn’t love the convenience of 24 hour online shopping? You can order supplies at 3:00 am on a Tuesday morning in your sweat pants.  I rest my case.

  4. Larger selection:

    The downfall of brick and mortar stores are the limited sizes and inventory of what they have on hand.  When you shop for supplies online you can search through endless amounts of brands, prices, specific needs, etc.  
  1. Customer reviews:

    A lot of online stores have customer reviews where other customers can rate products and/or post pictures of their products they have order. It’s really nice to see what other customers think about certain products.  I probably wouldn’t by a cheaper mask that falls apart in two weeks if the most expensive mask lasts longer and has better customer reviews.  
  2. Ability to price compare:

    If you are searching for something you know to be fairly popular item a lot of times you can look a product up and compare prices for at different DME websites before purchasing.

 

6 CONS of purchasing CPAP Equipment and Suppliesn Online

  1. Shipping costs:

    I have had instances where I will place an order online, receive my confirmation number, and then the next day get a phone call or an email stating they can’t even ship my item to Alaska.  What?  Or if they can ship, it costs almost as much as the product I’m buying. 

    Make sure you read the fine print regarding shipping products to Alaska.  A website might say “Free Shipping on orders over $99.99” but be careful as that could be only for the contiguous or “lower” 48 states.  

    Sorry Alaska and Hawaii.
  1. Wait time:

    If you are like me and have little to no patience when you want something, brick and mortar shopping is the way to go. Online shopping cannot give you instant gratification. 

    Also,

    Lets say you are a lucky shopper who scores a great deal on shipping to Alaska.  That doesn’t mean that great price equals speed.  Most cost effective shipping methods are via  GROUND, shipping (on a truck, driving up the Alcan Highway) not air - Which can take weeks to get to Alaska.   
  1. Can’t Try it on:

    This is probably THE biggest con of online shopping.  You can’t physically touch the products to see how they feel, fit, and look.  If I have to spend 7-8 hours in this sleep apnea mask, I want to make sure it is as comfortable as possible.  I’ve been blessed with a small head and larger nose, finding a comfortable mask online is almost impossible for me. I have to try them on.
  1. Personable customer service:

    It’s great that I can chat with a customer service rep online, but when it has to do with my health I want to know the person who is helping me is trained to deal with health questions and medical equipment.  I would prefer someone who lives, eats and breathes CPAP equipment versus someone 4 time zones away assisting me to place my order online.
  1. Compliance Follow up/Patient Education:

    Compliance is key to successful CPAP Therapy.  If you don’t have the correct supplies you aren’t going to wear them and this whole process is null and void.  Make sure you get the correct mask and that you are using it.  Compliance is also important to your insurance company.  Most insurance companies will not pay for the machine or the supplies if you are not using them regularly. A brick and mortar store will remember who you are and have certain notes on your account to help you more the next time you come in.  
  1. Won’t work with insurance companies:

    The majority of CPAP suppliers online do not participate with Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance carriers and the purchases are private pay.   This means the cheap rate you found online is almost always paid by you completely upfront.  You can submit your claim to your insurance company but that doesn’t mean your insurance will cover it.   

 

At The Alaska Sleep Clinic, our goal is to help you get the treatment you need for your sleep disorder.  That includes working closely with our technicians to find you the perfect CPAP supplies you can wear and use every single night.  

Click the link below for more information regarding CPAP machines and supplies.

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