Sleep apnea: Problems with one-year medical certification

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The Medical Review Board’s preliminary apnea recommendations would enshrine a practice that’s increasingly common with truckers being treated successfully for sleep apnea: a one-year medical certification, twice the frequency of the standard two-year certification.

Currently, two-year certifications for those with well-treated apnea are possible because DOT physical providers have wide latitude on the length of certification – officially, at least.

While this option is far better than being taken off the road, the inconvenience and extra cost of an annual certification is significant and could be avoided, argues Wasilla, Alaska-based Dan Tucker.

Granted, he says, the $9,000 cost for two in-lab tests when he was diagnosed with sleep apnea and began treatment is an inconvenience that is “fairly offset by the ‘quality of life’ ” differences.

But the one-year medical card requirement puts an ongoing “cost burden of an extra physical on me, and literally gives me an 11-month card. If I don’t renew ‘in time’ (before the existing card expires), I’m out!”

Furthermore, there’s “the additional stress of passing the physical, and no credit for being proactive and getting successful treatment for a treatable problem,” Tucker says. “I can prove – any time – that I’m following the treatment regime. There should be no ‘time penalty’ against my med card.”

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