Finding CPAP Masks that Work for You
This article was updated on: 09/15/2018
Has your doctor diagnosed you with sleep apnea? Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, may be prescribed in some situations to treat obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where throat muscles relax during sleep and cause the person to pause breathing. According to the National Institutes of Health, CPAP therapy is a type of treatment that uses air pressure to keep your breathing pathways open. This treatment requires the purchase or rental of certain equipment, including the CPAP machine itself; tubing that connects the machine to your mask and the motor; and of course, a CPAP mask that fits over your nose and/or mouth and delivers air to your lungs.
Choosing the right sleep apnea mask to work with your CPAP machine is important, both for your own comfort and for maximizing the benefits of this treatment.
Choosing the right CPAP mask
CPAP masks come in a variety of different types, shapes, and styles. You can’t assume that a particular size in one brand will fit exactly the same as that size from another brand, so it’s a good idea to try on masks in person to make sure they fit. It’s very important to find a sleep apnea mask that fits well for your particular face. A mask that is too loose may leak air, while a mask that is too tight may increase discomfort and make it harder for you to get used to the machine. Some sleep apnea masks are padded, which you may find more comfortable. Remember to use your CPAP mask as your doctor prescribes.
You can work with your doctor to find a sleep apnea mask that meets your needs. There are several different types of CPAP masks:
Nasal pillow: A nasal pillow sleep apnea mask fits at the bottom of the nostrils and is connected directly into the nose. Covering only the nose, this could be a good choice for people who want to leave their vision totally unblocked to read or watch TV before sleeping. They also work well with people who wear glasses or men with beards or facial hair.
Nasal masks: These CPAP masks also cover only the nose and tend to fit over more of your nose than nasal pillow masks. Doctors may suggest nasal CPAP masks when they prescribe higher air pressure, since these masks work better for patients that need high-pressure settings. If you tend to move around a lot when you sleep, these masks are more likely to stay in place than a nasal pillow sleep apnea mask.
Full-face masks: These CPAP masks cover both the mouth and the nose. If you don’t always breathe through your nose, this kind of sleep apnea mask also supplies air pressure through your mouth. Since the masks cover the mouth as well as the nose, they may minimize symptoms like dry mouth. People with nasal obstructions or nasal congestions that make it harder to breathe through their nose may find this a better choice than other CPAP mask types that cover the nose only.
How Medicare Part B covers CPAP masks and sleep apnea machines
If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, Medicare Part B covers a three-month trial period for CPAP therapy. Medicare may extend this coverage if your doctor documents that this therapy is helping your sleep apnea.
If you already had a CPAP machine, hose, and sleep apnea mask before enrolling in Original Medicare, you may be able to get a replacement CPAP machine rental and/or accessories covered by Medicare if you meet certain requirements. To learn more about what is covered by Medicare, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
Medicare Part B covers CPAP masks and other CPAP equipment as durable medical equipment. You pay 20% of the cost to rent the CPAP machine and purchase related accessories (such as hosing and/or CPAP masks). You must meet the Part B deductible for that year before Medicare will begin to cover costs. Make sure to find a participating and Medicare-enrolled supplier or Medicare may not cover the equipment and your costs may be much higher. If you have Original Medicare, you may also need to use a supplier that is part of Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program; visit Medicare.gov to learn more.
Under coverage rules, Medicare will cover the rental for your CPAP machine for 13 continuous, uninterrupted, months; after this period is over, you’ll own the machine.
Certain Medicare plans, such as Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage plans, may help reduce expenses for CPAP machines, hoses, and sleep apnea masks. Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, plans work alongside Original Medicare to cover certain out-of-pocket costs like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative way to get your Medicare benefits and must cover the same benefits as Original Medicare, including CPAP devices and sleep apnea masks. Depending on the specific Medicare Advantage plan, your costs may be different. I can help you by researching available plan options in your local area and providing you with suggestions.
- For personalized help, you can get plan options emailed to you or schedule a call by selecting one of those options below.
- To start finding Medicare plan options in your area, click the Compare Plans Now link.
For more information on CPAP masks and CPAP therapy:
American Sleep Apnea Association, “Choosing a mask,” accessed February 6, 2017, http://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/treatment-options/positive-airway-pressure-therapy/choosing-a-mask.html
National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “CPAP,” accessed February 6, 2017, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cpap
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus, “Obstructive sleep apnea – adults,” accessed February 6, 2017, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001916.htm