Sleep apnea testing was a time commitment. For years, patients were required to stay overnight at a sleep clinic, plugged in to machines and watched over for seven hours by sleep technologists. Now, most people can strap a portable monitor to their chest and get tested as they doze in their own beds.
Researchers have found that the cheaper and often more convenient home tests are about as good at detecting the breathing interruptions that characterize obstructive sleep apnea. Massachusetts insurance companies looking to clamp down on the booming field of sleep medicine have responded by restricting use of the in-lab tests, which run about $650 to $1,000, in favor of home testing at about one-third the cost.