We are seeing an amazing increase in self pay home sleep apnea testing from people that work in the transportation industry and it’s not surprising as to why. The hot topic of conversation in the industry has been a law to mandate sleep apnea testing, CPAP therapy if the test was positive and compliance reporting for truckers that have elevated risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea.
A big question would be; is this a good thing or bad thing? The conscience observer has to see it as a positive thing for other motorists, employers and the overall health of that individual. However, sleep apnea testing for truckers and treatment can be outrageously expensive, especially for the individually owned and operated trucker otherwise known as the “self-insured”.
The top three disease related health care expenditures in the trucking and transportation industry are hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. So what do these 3 co-morbid conditions ALL have in common? All are a direct to untreated obstructive sleep apnea. Occupational wellness programs are reacting to these correlations and a standard of practice is beginning to develop in the trucking industry in regard to screening and treatment of truck drivers for sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing.
In light of this emerging standard of care, it is incumbent on the trucking industry to develop and implement risk management strategies designed to reduce liabilities associated with commercial drivers.
Examples of strategies for implementation would be providing drivers with information about sleep apnea, it’s symptoms, causes and types of treatment options. Providing screening for drivers at the time of hire and periodically has also been an effective method of occupational wellness. Sleep questionnaires, assessments of risks factors such as obesity, age, neck size, hypertension, and diabetes are great tools in recognizing potential drivers that would benefit from screening.
Employers are always looking at ways to cut costs and improve employee benefits. There have been studies conducted on health care utilization that have shown tremendous reduction in medical claims and hospital stays after diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea as compared to prior year before.
In 2005 NHTSA estimated the cost to be $83,000 per fatality, a total of 12.5 billion and 85% of the cost from workplace loss and loss of productivity.
These are all very alarming statistics, so what are the conclusions of the cost effectiveness of sleep testing? Given the increased morbidity of not treating sleep disorders, it should be considered preventative medicine to offer diagnostic testing and treatment. One should also expect to see a decrease in cardiovascular complications and motor vehicle accident.
In addition to cost effectiveness, what are other benefits of adding a sleep wellness program to your organization?
Reduce the risk of serious workers compensation, auto liability, and physical damage losses due to sleep related vehicle crashes
Realize productivity gains from drivers who are more alert.
Help your drivers enjoy a greater quality of life