A Forbes report takes a comprehensive look at the costs of obstructive sleep apnea, including the financial costs and the impact to one’s health.
OSA often goes undiagnosed because people with the condition often fail to recognize the symptoms. When OSA symptoms such as drowsiness, fatigue, snoring and poor-quality sleep become the baseline or norm, it can be difficult for doctors and others to explain the need for treatment. Chronic exhaustion causes a strain on the economy since it significantly reduces productivity, exacerbates other health conditions and increases the risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents.
The impact OSA has on employers is staggering, with approximately $86.9 billion dollars wasted in lost productivity. Fatigue costs employers billions of dollars in wages for employees whose performance suffers both mentally and physically. In addition, an estimated $6.5 billion in costs are incurred to the economy due to OSA-related fatigue workplace accidents. Drowsiness can reduce reaction time and increase the likelihood of an employee being injured on the job. Other costs associated with this type of accident include lost wages, absenteeism, medical expenses and reduced quality of life. These affect not only the person, but also the employer, healthcare industry and taxpayers.
The research linking OSA to comorbidities such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and anxiety continues to grow. The healthcare utilization costs associated with these physical and mental conditions is approximately $30 billion each year, driven by more hospital and emergency room visits, medication use and, ultimately, mortality rates. The good news is that OSA treatment positively affects mental health and interpersonal relationships.