Treating Sleep Apnea in Truck Drivers Cuts Health Costs, Disability Rates
Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, chief medical officer at Waste Management Inc. and lead author of the study, used insurance claims records to evaluate the effects of obstructive sleep apnea treatment in commercial motor vehicle drivers. Costs were compared for 156 drivers who received continuous positive airway pressure or other treatments for the disorder and 92 drivers who were diagnosed with sleep apnea but were not treated.
The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that for treated drivers, health plan costs decreased an average of $2,700 in the first year and another $3,100 in the second year compared to no change for untreated drivers. The treated drivers also missed fewer workdays (average 4.4 days in the first year) and had lower short-term disability costs ($528 over two years).
On average, researchers found that treatment for sleep apnea led to more than $6,000 in total health plan and disability cost savings per treated driver. Total costs decreased by 41 percent in drivers treated for sleep apnea compared to an 8 percent decrease in untreated drivers.
Hoffman said sleep apnea is a preventable cause of motor vehicle accidents, and studies have found that treatment for the disorder can lower the accident rate. In addition, screening and treatment for sleep apnea has recently been recommended for commercial motor vehicle drivers by several health and safety organizations.
"Addressing obstructive sleep apnea in the workplace offers the possibility of early identification and intervention for a chronic disease that is associated with increased health benefit utilization," researchers concluded.
Read more at the WORKERSCOMP ForumTM homepage.
June 3, 2010
Copyright 2010© LRP Publications