Tax season is officially underway. While this can be a stressful time of year for some people, the truth of the matter is that for most, this is actually a time when the government puts money back in their pockets. According to data from BankRate, roughly 71 percent of filers for the 2018 tax year received a refund, with the average refund amount totaling $2,869.
Getting a few thousand dollars back in your bank account can be a major boost for just about anyone. Of course, the actual value you receive from your tax return will largely be dependent on how you use it.
After all, it’s one thing to use your tax refund to help build up your emergency savings account or pay off credit card debt. It’s quite another to blow the money on a shopping spree for clothes or a new TV. Ideally, you should be looking at ways to use your money that will deliver lasting value and help you have peace of mind.
If you struggle with sleep apnea, one of the best ways to use your tax refund is to cover the cost of your CPAP supplies. Let’s take a look at why this could be one of the smartest ways to use your refund this tax season.
The Facts Behind Sleep Apnea
Based on the numbers, it appears that sleep apnea is on the rise in the United States and many other parts of the world. A report from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that 26 percent of American adults between age 30 and 70 experience obstructive sleep apnea. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 80 percent of individuals with severe or moderate obstructive sleep apnea have not been diagnosed. Rising obesity rates and other health complications are believed to be contributing to an increased number of sleep apnea diagnoses.
In obstructive sleep apnea, an individual will experience temporary interruptions to breathing during sleep as their air passages get closed off. Whether the obstruction is caused by the tongue or another collapsing muscle, the throat gets blocked in a way that prevents airflow to the lungs.
Without sufficient airflow, the carbon dioxide levels in the blood begin to rise. Fortunately, obstructive sleep apnea isn’t immediately deadly — you aren’t going to suffocate in your sleep. Even during sleep, the brain will detect when the body is not receiving oxygen like it should. This will trigger the person to wake up, and restart breathing so they can restore oxygen to the blood. The person will usually wake up choking or gasping for breath before quickly falling back asleep.
These individual apnea episodes can occur over the course of a few seconds, and some people with severe sleep apnea experience upwards of 30 incidents in a single hour. Waking up continuously during the night greatly reduces the quality and quantity of sleep. As a result, a person may wake up in the morning still feeling fatigued even though they think they had a “full” seven to nine hours of rest.
Part of the problem with obstructive sleep apnea is that the person suffering from the condition is often completely unaware that they have sleep apnea. They may feel tired, but not think anything of it unless their partner notices excessively loud snoring or is awakened by middle of the night apnea incidents. This creates a situation where sleep apnea can go undiagnosed, greatly increasing the risk for more serious and costly side effects.
Long-Term Effects of Sleep Apnea
While feeling tired in the morning may not seem like something that requires attention from your tax refund, it can have serious long-term medical and financial consequences if not treated with the help of a CPAP machine.
Just consider the dangers of drowsy driving. According to the CDC, drowsy driving contributes to over 72,000 auto accidents per year, with as many as 6,000 fatal accidents linked to drowsy driving. If you are responsible for a serious auto accident, the financial consequences can be severe. You may have to buy a new car after totaling your vehicle, and could even find yourself the defendant in a lawsuit if you seriously injured others.
Excess fatigue also makes it harder to stay focused on daily tasks, which can hurt your ability to concentrate at work. As performance declines, your fatigue makes you more likely to cause an accident or make a mistake. Left unchecked, such ongoing issues could even cost you your employment.
As serious as these consequences may be, the longer-term health issues resulting from untreated sleep apnea can have the greatest impact on your budget. Sleep apnea has been found to contribute to or worsen a wide variety of severe health problems, including heart failure, stroke, diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure.
Treatment and medical care for these conditions can prove extremely costly, even if you have insurance. The American Diabetes Association estimates that diabetes alone is estimated to directly add $9,601 to a person’s yearly medical expenses. Add in medication or therapy needed to treat conditions like high blood pressure and depression, and the expenses far exceed what you get from your yearly tax refund. This can put significant financial strain on your family, especially when insurance doesn’t cover all the costs.
How CPAP Equipment Makes a Difference
CPAP therapy is widely viewed as the best way to counteract sleep apnea. CPAP equipment works by sending a continuous flow of pressurized air to your lungs. Users wear a mask that covers their nose and/or their mouth to ensure that they receive a steady flow of air from their machine throughout the night.
The increased air pressure delivered by a CPAP machine helps keep the throat from narrowing and blocking off airflow. To be effective, the CPAP mask must provide a tight yet comfortable seal that prevents air leaks. For greater comfort, it is recommended to use a CPAP machine with a humidifier. The added moisture will prevent sore throat and help you enjoy more comfortable breathing during the night.
CPAP equipment has been shown to have a profound impact on the overall health of the user. For starters, you’ll no longer feel as sleepy in the morning, which will give you more energy to take care of your daily tasks. You’ll be less likely to be irritable or experience morning headaches.
While it may take a few weeks to start feeling better rested from using a CPAP device, the long term is where it makes the biggest difference. A Danish study found that CPAP users of all ages had a lower risk of heart failure than those who didn’t use the devices, with CPAP users over 60 reducing their risk by 38 percent.
Another study of individuals with sleep apnea found that while initially, 73 percent of the study group had “clinically significant depressive symptoms,” this number plunged to four percent after just three months of CPAP therapy.
Needless to say, by using CPAP equipment, individuals who suffer from sleep apnea can significantly reduce their long-term risk for more significant health issues. By improving your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, you will save money by staying out of the hospital, as well as reducing the need for medications and therapy.
You’ll have more time and money to live your life the way you want — and to spend future tax refunds for things that provide greater personal enjoyment.
How Much Does CPAP Equipment Cost?
A big part of the reason why tax season is a great time to buy CPAP equipment is because most CPAP machines cost far less than what you’ll receive from your refund. This way, you’ll be able to get the machine you need for your sleep apnea therapy, as well as additional accessories to ensure quality ongoing care.
Many CPAP machines from top brands start at a little over $1,000 (and many are available for even less), ensuring that you’ll have plenty of money left over from your tax refund. You can use some of those extra funds toward selecting the right CPAP mask, buying replacement parts that you’ll need in the future (such as mask components, tubes, and filters), or even purchasing sanitizing equipment to streamline your daily CPAP cleaning.
Because CPAP equipment requires a prescription, this medical device is often at least partially covered by insurance, further reducing how much you have to spend out of pocket. Even if you don’t have insurance or don’t have full coverage from your policy, the combined cost of CPAP equipment and diagnostic visits with a sleep specialist will likely be less than your total tax refund.
While the relatively low upfront cost of CPAP equipment is a nice thing in and of itself, the greatest benefits of CPAP therapy come in the long run. While masks and tubing will need to be replaced every few months, most CPAP machines have an expected lifespan of five years or more, and usually come with warranty coverage during this period.
Quite simply, the ongoing costs associated with treating sleep apnea are much lower than the expenses that would come with treating the more serious conditions that would result from untreated sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is much easier and less expensive to control than heart disease or depression.
Making the investment with your tax refund now to treat your sleep apnea will ultimately put you in a better financial situation in the future. You’ll not only be able to save on ongoing medical expenses, but you’ll also be able to use future tax refunds for non-medical purposes!
Use Your Money Wisely
Using your tax refund can go a long way in helping cover the cost of your CPAP supplies. In many cases, it could be more than enough for you to get your CPAP machine, masks, a cleaner, and replacement parts and accessories.
Here at Help Medical Supplies, we want to help you stretch your tax refund even further. That’s why we offer big savings on a wide range of CPAP and BiPAP machines, allowing you to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on equipment from top brands like ResMed, DeVilbiss, and Philips Respironics. Refurbished and certified pre-owned products help you save even more.
We also offer equipment in convenient bundle packages, helping you save by combining a CPAP machine, sanitizer equipment like the SoClean 2, a travel case, and extra filters and tubing in one order. Free shipping is also available on all orders over $89.
The way you use your tax refund can have a bigger impact than you might think. While a new iPhone will likely be outdated by this time next year, investing in your future with a new CPAP machine can have a lasting impact for your overall health and financial well-being. By improving your quality of life and reducing your risk for more serious health complications, there are few better refund “splurges” for those with sleep apnea this tax season.