Healthcare Cost

How Much Does an Adult Nebulizer Cost Without Insurance?

Blanche Palasi
Blanche Palasi9 Mar 2023

An adult nebulizer costs $50 - $200 without insurance. Nebulizers are used by people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, and emphysema to take their medications. While these devices may be expensive without insurance, various options are available to help you find affordable nebulizers.

Cost of Nebulizers Without Insurance

Without insurance, the price of an adult nebulizer is at least $50 and added accessories will likely be required. This will range based on the type of nebulizer used and additional accessories you may need. 

Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurances cover the cost of most nebulizers. Medicare Part B covers 80% of the price of jet nebulizers if prescribed by your healthcare provider. Both Medicare and Medicaid pay for nebulizers under the Durable Medical Equipment benefit.

The cost of different types of nebulizers and their accessories are summarized in the table below: 

Nebulizer Types and AccessoriesAverage Price
Jet Nebulizer$71.75
Ultrasonic Nebulizer$206.69
Mesh Nebulizer$150.59 
Nebulizer Mask$19.41
Replacement Filters$11.99

Types of Nebulizers

There are three different types of nebulizers patients use. The most commonly known and used one is the jet nebulizer. These nebulizers differ by how they aerosolize the medicine to be inhaled.

Jet Nebulizers

Jet nebulizers use compressed air to aerosolize the medicine into an inhalable mist. These nebulizers are the most commonly used because they are often cheaper and easier to use. They are typically stationary and need to be powered by an outlet to use; as a result, these nebulizers are restrained to home use only. Another disadvantage of jet nebulizers is they are often loud, further complicating their portability. 

There are no restrictions on the medications jet nebulizers can use. Depending on the airflow rate used, they take between 10 and 25 minutes to deliver treatment. To use your jet nebulizer, you need to buy additional accessories for your nebulizer machine:

  • Plastic tubing connects your nebulizer machine to its compressor and your face mask
  • Jet nebulizers use compressors to convert the liquid medication into a fine mist.
  • Face masks go over your nose and mouth and are needed to inhale the mist particles.

Mesh Nebulizers

Rather than using airflow to form an aerosol, mesh nebulizers have a vibrating mesh piece to break down liquid medication into breathable particles. They vibrate at over 100,000 times per second and are usually battery-powered. Patients often prefer these nebulizers because they are quieter, portable, and more convenient. However, because of these added benefits, they tend to cost more than a jet nebulizer. 

Mesh nebulizers do not need a compressor and can be transported with ease. They also often already have a face mask or mouthpiece attached.

Experts at the University of Georgia also recommend mesh nebulizers over the traditional jet nebulizer because they are more efficient and can deliver higher drug doses to patients faster. Mesh nebulizers can provide a full dose of medication in as little as 7 minutes. A 2018 study analyzing EU and US clinical trials shows that nebulizers are more optimal in managing respiratory diseases.   

Ultrasonic nebulizers

Ultrasonic nebulizers produce ultrasonic waves that are projected onto liquid medications to create a mist. These nebulizers are limited by the type of medication they can deliver as they cannot process suspension formulations such as budesonide. However, their small size makes them more convenient to transport. If you plan on using an ultrasonic nebulizer, you would need to buy a face mask or mouthpiece if one is not already attached.  

Ultrasonic nebulizers use high-frequency vibrations to create consistent particle sizes, whereas jet nebulizers offer a range of particle sizes. Ultrasonic nebulizers are the newest kind of nebulizer and are often more expensive. Compared to jet nebulizers, they are quieter and are only available as hand-held. Ultrasonic nebulizers can deliver a full dose of medication within 4 minutes

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What is a Nebulizer?

Nebulizers are a tool that turns liquid medications into a mist for patients to inhale directly into their lungs. For those with chronic respiratory illnesses, nebulizers make medications easy to inhale and provide relief quickly. Nebulizers help decrease respiratory strain, wheezing, and shortness of breath. They are often used as alternatives to inhalers or to deliver a large dose of inhaled medication. Nebulizers can be used to help various lung disorders and respiratory problems:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Emphysema

In addition, nebulizers are used to deliver many different types of medications:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics can be used in patients with respiratory infections. Aerosolized antibiotics deliver medications to achieve high drug concentrations in the lungs.
  • Corticosteroids: Common corticosteroids, like budesonide and fluticasone, are used to soothe inflammation in the lungs and prevent the occurrence of an asthma attack.
  • Bronchodilators: Bronchodilators help open the airways, allowing patients to breathe more easily. Quick relief agents, like albuterol, control acute respiratory attacks and work within minutes.
  • Saline: Aerosolized saline can loosen up mucus in the lungs and respiratory tract.

How to Use a Nebulizer 

While there are three main types of nebulizers, they are used the same way.

A more in-depth explanation on how to use a nebu

  • Step 1: If using a stationary traditional jet nebulizer, place it on a flat surface and plug it into a power source. If using a portable nebulizer, ensure the batteries are fully charged.
  • Step 2: Wash your hands with soap and water before handling the nebulizer or medication.
  • Step 3: Place your medication into the medication cup of the nebulizer. Close the medication cup tightly to avoid spilling it.
  • Step 4: Place your nebulizer cup into the machine. If not already attached, assemble tubing to the mouthpiece or mask.
  • Step 5: your nebulizer on. You should see a light mist appear through the tubing.
  • Step 6: If you’re using a mask, secure it comfortably around your face. If you’re using a mouthpiece, put it between your teeth and form a seal around it with your mouth. This is to ensure that all the medication is delivered to your lungs.
  • Step 7: Take slow and deep breaths through your mouth with the mask or mouthpiece on.
  • Step 8: Continue breathing deeply until you have finished the medication. The nebulizer will usually stop when the medication cup is empty. If the medicine gets stuck to the sides of the medication cup, you loosen it by shaking it.
  • Step 9: Turn off your machine after your dose is finished, and unplug your nebulizer if needed.

Adult Nebulizer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Buying and choosing a nebulizer can be confusing. Here are some frequently asked questions about obtaining a nebulizer without insurance. 

How is a Nebulizer Different from an Inhaler?

Inhalers are hand-held devices that deliver medication to be inhaled into your lungs. Similar to nebulizers, they are used to treat inflammation and expand airways. As opposed to nebulizers, all inhalers are hand-held and portable.

People often have difficulty using inhalers correctly as the breathing technique is challenging to master. As a result, about 94% of patients with asthma and COPD use their inhalers correctly. Some inhalers need you to breathe deeply and slowly, while others require you to breathe quickly and sharply. When using your inhaler, you must breathe out entirely to ensure your next breath is deep enough to inhale your medication. Most people find nebulizers easier to use as there are no special breathing techniques to learn.Nebulizers are an excellent alternative for patients who have difficulties using their inhalers. 

Nebulizers take up to 25 minutes to deliver a dose of medication, while inhalers are effective upon inhaling. To set up these devices, inhalers require priming before use, while nebulizers need to be assembled and cleaned. Inhalers do not need batteries or to be plugged into an outlet. On average, inhalers are often cheaper than nebulizers, with the most common albuterol inhalers costing $74.32 without insurance. 

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Do you need a prescription?

A nebulizer is often prescribed by a healthcare provider, but most retail drug stores, pharmacies, and online stores carry replacements to be purchased over the counter. Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies will provide coverage for nebulizers and accessories with a prescription.

A prescription is required for the medicine used in the nebulizer. Some medications may require specific nebulizers, so it would be beneficial to check with your pharmacist or provider that your nebulizer is compatible with your medications. 

How do I care for my nebulizer?

Nebulizers need consistent cleaning after being used to prevent any bacteria from growing. If nebulizers are not cared for properly before and after use, you can breathe in germs and cause a lung infection.  

You should clean your nebulizer after every time you use it. Clean your medicine cup and mouthpiece or mask by washing them with warm water. Let these pieces air dry or dry them with a clean paper towel. 

If you are using a jet nebulizer, let the nebulizer run just air through the compressor to ensure everything is dry. Do not wash the tubing, but you can clean the outside of the nebulizer with a warm, damp cloth as necessary. If your nebulizer requires a filter, make sure you are always using a clean filter. Replace your filter every six months to 1 year; change your filters more often if you use your machine daily. 

Are There Any Side Effects to Nebulizers?

Nebulizers are typically well tolerated, but some common side effects you may experience are a fast heartbeat, jitteriness, and dry throat. Inform your doctor immediately if you experience severe side effects like chest pain, confusion, or hives. 

Bottom Line

Nebulizers are helpful devices for people with respiratory problems. Additional accessories for your nebulizer, like facemasks or compressors, may be required. While there are different nebulizers to choose from, their price ranges from $50 to $200 without insurance. Most insurances, Medicaid and Medicare will cover your nebulizer.

Blanche Palasi

Blanche Palasi is a 2024 PharmD. Candidate currently attending St. John's University. A Queens native, she is passionate about helping patients identify and navigate social determinants of health.