Cost of a Day’s Breath

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If you’ve ever walked outside and breathed in the beautiful fresh air (especially if you happen to live in one of America’s cities known for its good air quality), you’ve probably never wondered what it might feel like to have to pay for every breath you take.

For the 30 million American adults that have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 18 million with asthma, and nearly 6 million who’ve experienced heart failure, getting a full deep breath of clean air can sometimes be hard without the help of oxygen therapy. If you have a breathing condition and your body does not get as much oxygen as it needs to function properly, you may experience symptoms such as rapid breathing, shortness of breath, sweating, confusion, coughing and wheezing. Oxygen therapy helps to treat these symptoms and makes breathing significantly easier, but it also costs money.

To understand what breathable air costs for some Americans, we broke down the most common oxygen therapy options by price over time and compared the Inogen One G4 to other oxygen machines and dispensers. Continue reading to see what we learned.

Paying the Price to Breathe

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Of the six oxygen therapy and recreational oxygen options studied, the most casual solution to pay for oxygen also happened to be the most expensive. Oxygen bars – salon-type establishments where people can walk in or make appointments to breathe up to 30 minutes worth of oxygen – would quickly add up over time. Proponents of oxygen bars claim that they are able to potentially increase energy levels, cure headaches or even extend users’ endurance. However, these claims are anecdotal at best, and oxygen bars are not suitable for use by people with breathing difficulties and lung disease. Even if they were suitable for use by the people who need oxygen the most, the cost of regular use is unsustainable. On average, the cost to use an oxygen bar would set you back more than $1,400 a day – adding up to roughly half a million dollars over the course of a year.

Of course, there’s always oxygen in a can. While the proposed health benefits of oxygen in a can are similar to those of an oxygen bar, the cost of using oxygen cans regularly is still high. Daily use would average out to nearly $1,200 a day.

Thankfully, for people who need long-term oxygen therapy, the daily cost of the solutions most often prescribed by a doctor, like a compressed oxygen cylinder or an oxygen concentrator like the Inogen One G4, are significantly lower in comparison. A compressed oxygen tank costs about $5.69 per day, while the option with the lowest daily cost is the Inogen One G4 at just $1.92 per day. 

These options are all much more manageable, but the Inogen One G4 is the cheapest per day by far. At less than $2 a day, the annual cost of an extremely portable and highly convenient solution to breathing difficulties averages at around $700 per year. For patients who rely on oxygen therapy for their breathing and maintaining their oxygen levels, the cost per day must be considered.

Many of the millions of Americans who have COPD need to receive at least 15 hours of oxygen therapy each day, the use of which can dramatically improve their quality of life. However, the cost for this therapy should be manageable, so it is important to pay attention to the average cost per day when considering oxygen delivery options.

The Price of Competitor Oxygen Concentrators

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While the benefits of recreational oxygen therapy may vary, the myriad benefits of oxygen therapy for people with chronic breathing conditions (including COPD) are well-documented. For patients with COPD, studies have shown that supplemental oxygen can increase exercise performance, improve sleep quality, improve mental alertness, improve overall stamina and even increase survival when used at least 15 hours per day. Clearly, for people who need it, medical oxygen therapy provides life-changing benefits and significantly helps improve overall quality of life.

Though breathing easy is priceless, the fact is that oxygen delivery devices cost money. However, oxygen concentrators are the least expensive per day for long-term oxygen therapy by far. When comparing the Inogen One G4 to competitor oxygen concentrators, the long-term costs of the competitors were higher than the Inogen G4 oxygen system. While the cost of devices with a three-year warranty was essentially the same, the cost per day to power each device was significantly lower for the Inogen One G4, averaging $1.64 compared to $2.28 for the competitor’s unit. Purchasing an Inogen One G4 with a lifetime warranty may have a larger upfront cost, but its daily cost still averages out to $2.19, making it a less expensive option than alternative oxygen concentrators, even with this excellent warranty.

The Price of an E-Cylinder 679 L Capacity

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For the millions of Americans who might benefit from utilizing long-term oxygen therapy, there are two primary solutions to help supply the appropriate levels of oxygen: oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrators.

Oxygen tanks (including the E-Cylinder 679 L Capacity) and oxygen concentrators ultimately serve the same purpose for COPD patients: they provide supplemental oxygen to the patient in order to improve oxygen levels in the blood and the body overall. In both cases, the oxygen is inhaled through the use of a nasal cannula (or through a breathing mask) to reduce shortness of breath, improve oxygenation and increase energy levels. 

Still, though they ultimately serve the same function, oxygen concentrators like the Inogen One G4 and oxygen tanks like the E-Cylinder 679 L Capacity offer very different daily experiences and costs for the patients who use them. Tanks can be very large and bulky in size, making them awkward to handle and difficult to transport and travel with. They also have significantly higher daily costs. Though the cost for an oxygen tank is smaller upfront, the cost of oxygen refills and tank replacements over time can really add up. The E-Cylinder 679 L Capacity costs an average of $5.69 per day, adding up to more than $2,000 a year. When compared to the Inogen One G4, which averages to only $2.19 per day even with a lifetime warranty, it is clear to see which option is cheaper. The Inogen One G4 is more than half the cost, including the lifetime warranty.

The Price of a Scuba Tank

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If you have COPD, heart failure or asthma, you probably wouldn’t consider carrying around a scuba tank to increase your air quality unless you had to. Still, the concept is virtually the same. For underwater divers looking to explore Earth’s hidden mysteries (or treasure), scuba tanks provide the air they need to survive at incredible depths.

Unlike scuba divers, people with breathing conditions like COPD or heart failure use oxygen therapy systems to sleep better at night, live full and active lifestyles and live longer while managing their conditions.

Thankfully, the medical use of an oxygen concentrator is much less expensive per day than the recreational use of a scuba tank. When you factor in the cost of refilling the tank, the accessories you might need for regular use, and mandatory replacement parts, using a scuba tank for oxygen would cost you over $2,300 a year. Compare this to an Inogen One G4 at $598 for a three-year warranty and $798 for a lifetime warranty. Beyond the significant difference in cost, consider that the Inogen One G4 weighs just 2.8 pounds – only a fraction of the weight when compared to the 30 to 35 pounds a diver’s tank can weigh.

The Price of Oxygen Cans

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Most people would welcome the opportunity to reduce their stress levels or feel more energized throughout the day. Recreational oxygen therapy promises to do just that by temporarily increasing your breathable oxygen intake from 21 percent to 35 to 40 percent. Medical experts are critical of  the claims oxygen solutions like canned air promise, though. Unless you happen to be an athlete who consistently pushes your body to its limits, the added oxygen might not do anything to help your body at all.

On average, canned oxygen costs just under $50 a unit. That might not seem like much, unless you intended to use canned oxygen regularly. If you did, your cost would exceed $1,160 per day if you relied on canned oxygen for constant use, and more than $426,000 a year. While the concentration of oxygen in canned air is high (95 percent), the cost is too high to use with any regularity.

The Price of an Oxygen Bar

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Oxygen bars are a newer trend. Since the late ’90s, Americans have been able to walk into an oxygen bar and spend a few minutes of their day breathing in oxygen flavored like anything from peppermints to cranberries.

While the oxygen therapy used for COPD and similar conditions often requires a prescription from a doctor, an oxygen bar is meant purely for recreational use and makes no medical claims about its effects. Still, that doesn’t stop people from believing it might help with their headaches, concentration and energy levels. In reality, oxygen bars and the flavored oxygen they sell can cause more harm than good.

Most Americans aren’t investing in any equipment when they go to an oxygen bar, but they are paying for their sessions. If they paid for that oxygen all day, they’d be paying quite a bit. The per-day cost would amount to more than $1,400, and the annual cost would exceed $525,000. This amount of money would be hard to swallow for a medical necessity, and it is certainly too much for a recreational product. Regardless, the cost per day of an oxygen bar is far more than the cost of using an oxygen concentrator like the Inogen One G4.

An Explanation of Our Data

Here you can explore the information we used to gather each oxygen suppliers’ equipment and daily costs. This data included the cost of required accessories, as well as refill costs where applicable. By breaking down the cost per day, we were able to multiply that figure by 365 days to extrapolate the annual costs of each device or service. Each of these figures represents an average based on our research as described by the graphics below.

The Breathing Solution for Your Best Life, Today

Imagine feeling a regular tightness in your chest, shortness of breath or a wheezing cough that just won’t go away. For the millions of Americans with conditions like  COPD and other conditions that impact the ability to breathe like pneumonia, severe asthma, cystic fibrosis or even sleep-related breathing conditions, this is a reality. Thankfully, oxygen therapy may be able to help. For patients who need long-term supplemental oxygen, calculating the cost of their treatments is a necessary part of the process.

If you or someone you love has a chronic breathing condition and is prescribed oxygen therapy, portable oxygen concentrators are the most cost-effective solution for better breathing. When you are looking at how much a home oxygen concentrator costs, it is important that you look at the cost per day, the annual cost and the benefits your portable oxygen concentrator can provide. Because it increases exercise tolerance and improves mental alertness, stamina and mood, a portable oxygen concentrator from Inogen gives you the freedom to live your best life, wherever you are.

Don’t let breathing issues take over your life. Improve your freedom, independence and mobility with an Inogen One today. Visit our product page to learn more.

Fair Use Statement

Oxygen is something most of us take for granted. If you were impacted by the information presented on this page, feel free to share it for non-commercial use only. Please just provide readers with a link back to this page.

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