Cost Savings a Major Benefit of Treating Sleep Apnea in Employees

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Untreated sleep apnea results in higher health care expenditures and lower productivity rates in the workforce, according to findings presented at the 2012 American Sleep Apnea Association conference. Employers who address the sleep disorder among their workers through a screening and treatment program would see vast improvements in worker productivity and lower health care costs, said Los Angeles Sleep Specialist Dr. Dan Naim.

Although sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder which can lead to or worsen chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, it is under-diagnosed

The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) hosted a conference on October 25 in Baltimore to discuss the financial and clinical implications of sleep apnea. The conference focused on potential solutions for employers and health plans which are impacted by the detrimental sleep disorder. Sleep apnea has a serious impact on health, safety, and quality of life, said Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute’s Dr. Dan Naim.

Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder in which a person stops breathing multiple times a night. During these pauses in breathing, called “apneas,” the brain sends a signal to the person to wake up in order to resume breathing. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, frequent awakenings, and feeling unrefreshed, even after spending a full night in bed. People who have sleep apnea usually are unaware they have the condition, which must be diagnosed through an overnight sleep study.

“Although sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder which can lead to or worsen chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, it is under-diagnosed,” said Dr. Naim. “Up to 90 percent of those afflicted with sleep apnea don’t know they have it and don’t remember waking up to gasp for air in the middle of the night, even if it happens dozens of times.”

The economic costs of sleep apnea are huge, said ASAA Executive Director Edward Grandi. Recent research from Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine estimates that there are $67 billion to $165 billion in annual costs related to sleep apnea. The costs include money lost from decreased productivity, traffic accidents related to fatigue, and health care expenditures. Grandi said that employers should take sleep disorders seriously because the cost attributed to diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are a small proportion of the overall estimated economic burden of the disease. The estimated cost to diagnose and treat moderate to severe OSA is estimated at $2 billion to $10 billion per year.

“Employers should view the cost of diagnosing and treating OSA as an investment that will produce significant savings in health insurance spending and significant increases in employee productivity. Moreover, it will enhance the safety and general well-being of the workforce,” said Grandi. “The consequences of untreated OSA can be subtle, like people showing up to work fatigued and being unproductive, or really dramatic, like truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel and killing people, which results in multimillion dollar lawsuits.”

Grandi recommended that employers begin a screening program for their workers, particularly in those professions in which there is a high prevalence of sleep apnea, such as trucking. Truck drivers are considered to be at a higher risk compared to the rest of the population because many drivers are middle-aged males working odd hours, making them even more likely to be sleepy. Those considered at the highest risk of sleep apnea development are male, over age 40, and obese, although anyone can have the disorder, including children.


About Dr. Dan Naim
Dr. Dan I. Naim is Board-Certified in the fields of Internal Medicine, Sleep Medicine, and Pulmonary Medicine. He completed medical school at the Drexel University College of Medicine and went on to fellowship-training in Internal Medicine at the UCLA-VA Internal Medicine Residency program. Dr. Naim completed a pulmonary and critical care fellowship with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Naim states that his interest in sleep medicine grew as he learned how the role of disturbed sleep could not only impair the quality of someone’s life, but also lead to extensive health problems. His time working in critical care has also shown him how a sleep disorder can lead to hospitalizations in the Intensive Care Unit if the disorder is left untreated. He believes deeply in patient care and education and fostering a partnership with his patients in order for them to achieve the best medical care possible.

About Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute
Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute has a team of highly trained specialists who use the most advanced medical technologies available to effectively diagnose sleep disorders. The team of dedicated professionals treats snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleep-related problems in a comfortable, professional and friendly environment. To learn more, call (818) 343-1569 or visit

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