Economic Impact of Sleep Apnea Expands Beyond Economic Revenue

I came across this article on Delaware Online that I wanted to share with you all. We’ve touched base on the idea that sleep apnea has a significant impact on the economy, but costs even more when it goes untreated. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but more than 80% do not receive a diagnosis.

Use Delaware as an Example

We don’t keep track of numbers specific to each state (but we should). In Delaware, those who treat sleep apnea (whether it is dentists or medical professionals), have said that awareness is on the rise in Delaware–that’s something every state should attain to do. A clinician education specialist with the Delaware Sleep Society stated that they had seen an increase in their study volume and are dedicated to promoting good sleeping habits.

In fact, in March 2015, about 100 patients visited the Delaware Sleep Society’s sleep disorder center. The number increased to 254 during the same month a year later. And, while statistics for 2017 are not yet available, we can take a guess that the number increased again this year. We need to improve our education and availability of information for patients so they know the risks at hand for untreated sleep apnea. Delaware is a great example of how the numbers are increasing due to awareness–we just need to hop on board.

A Look at the Numbers

Nationwide, sleep disorder centers saw a four percent growth every year between 2010 and 2015, according to IBISWorld, a Los Angeles-based tracker of consumer data. Due to the continued growth, in 2010 there were 2,280 sleep disorder centers in the U.S. generating about $5.9 billion. Then, in 2015, there were about 2,800 centers with an estimated revenue of $7.1 billion. This growth will continue to increase to $10 billion by 2020.

However, the economic impact of sleep apnea goes far beyond the economic revenue for those who treat sleep apnea. When sleep apnea goes undiagnosed, the economic burden is about $149.6 billion, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This includes nearly $87 billion in lost productivity, $26 billion in car crashes and $6.5 billion in workplace accidents.

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to an array of other serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes and depression. As a result, undiagnosed sleep apnea leads to $30 billion a year in increased health care costs. According to the AASM, if everyone who suffers from sleep apnea received treatment, it would create a savings of just over $100 billion–now that’s a lot!
It’s time we up our game with educating our patients about the need to screen for sleep apnea. We can help the sleep apnea industry grow, while keeping productivity high with proper treatment. What are ways we can continue to grow the education area of sleep apnea?