For sale: CPAP machine, slightly used

HME providers caution private sales of medical devices
Friday, September 16, 2016

YARMOUTH, Maine – People know Craigslist as a place where they can find anything from a used car to a new roommate, but listings for medical devices like CPAP machines are giving HME providers pause.

“Patients can do whatever they want with it if it’s been converted to purchase, but medical devices shouldn’t be sold without a prescription,” says Ron Evans, owner of Phoenix-based Valley Healthcare Group.

A new study from researchers at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System found that more than 75% of posted advertisements for CPAP machines did not indicate who used the machine, why it was listed for sale and what the machine’s pressure setting was.

That lack of information could be harmful to patients, say providers.

“If the person buying it doesn’t have someone to set it up or doesn’t know what pressure it needs to be at, that could harm them or make their sleep apnea worse,” said Evans. “They could make their sleep apnea worse because it’s not set to the optimum pressure.”

CPAP machines are listed on Craigslist for, on average, $291—an attractive option for patients who may have to pay anywhere from $600 to $2,000 out-of-pocket for a new machine.

“The more we push people to have it come out of their pockets or providers can’t accept insurance, the more we will see people trying to buy their supplies and equipment on Craigslist, eBay—anywhere they can find it—because their insurance is letting them down,” said Chris Smythe, vice president at Norfolk, Va.-based Tycon Medical.

Provider Johnny Goodman, CEO of, says he occasionally gets requests from customers to price match Craigslist. No go, he says.

“We let customers know only offers brand-new equipment in original manufacturer packaging,” he said. “We also highlight our sub-$200 CPAP machine offerings.”