Date: July 28, 2022
With sit-stand desks being adopted by the corporate world, you might be wondering if you can be reimbursed for the purchase of a standing desk.
If you use Kaiser Permanente as your health insurance provider and you're shopping for a standing desk, have you ever wondered if the cost of a standing desk is covered by Kaiser Permanente?
Well, we did some digging and found that you might be able to get get your stand up desk covered by insurance.
You might need to have a medical condition (more on that below) and if you aren't able to get reimbursed for a standing desk you still have two options, which we will talk about more below.
So let's get started.
Kaiser Permanente May Reimburse for Standing Desks
After talking to various members of the Kaiser Permanente's member benefits groups to see if KP insurance would pay for standing desks, we managed to talk to someone that told us the steps we need to take to potentially get Kaiser to cover the cost of a standing desk.
First, before you do anything, contact Kaiser just to make sure the rules have not changed. Here is the number we called to confirm:
When we spoke with someone at Kaiser, they informed us that standing desks fall under durable medical equipment and first you should speak to your primary care physician and have them put in a referral to the referrals / prior authorization team at KP, who will review the request.
While Kaiser Permanente does reimburse for a stand up desk, they told us that you need to have a letter of medical necessity and that you need to have an existing medical condition.
What is a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN)?
A letter of medical necessity is a doctor’s note that supports the case for you having a standing desk at work. Your chances of having insurance approve the need for a standing desk increase greatly if you obtain a LMN from your doctor.
To increase the odds of your health insurance covering the cost of a stand up desk, you will need to meet with a doctor that will confirm that you have one of the following medical conditions:
Your health care provider must indicate your (or your qualified dependent’s) specific diagnosed medical condition, the specific treatment needed, the length of treatment, and how this treatment will alleviate your medical condition.
Consider writing down your job requirements and the tasks you often perform at work, and then sharing this information with your doctor.
Once he or she looks over the information and compares it to your disability and/or medical conditions, your doctor will write you a letter of medical necessity (aka a prescription) for a standing desk if you need it.
Sample Letter of Medical Necessity
Each insurance provider should have their own LMN form on their website so be sure to do a Google search for your insurer's LMN. Here is a sample LMN from HealthEquity:
What standing desk is good for me?
If you have confirmed that Kaiser Permanente will cover the cost of your standing desk, it’s time to shop for a standing desk! A tool we created, called the DeskFinder, helps you find the perfect standing desk for you.
Here are some important standing desk features to keep in mind that might help you out when you’re looking for a desk riser. If you purchase a standing desk, keep your receipt handy for time when you try to get reimbursement.
Some other things to think about regarding getting insurance to cover a standing desk:
- You may need to get an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your insurance company. This will show that your purchase was not covered under your insurance.
- You also will need to fill out a claim form. When you signed up for your FSA/HSA you may have received a welcome packet. If not, you could contact your plan administrator or the FSA/HSA provider website to obtain claim forms.
- You will likely have to purchase your ergonomic desk out of pocket and then seek reimbursement.
- If your purchase is covered, you will receive a reimbursement check via the mail or direct deposit into your bank account, depending on how your account was set up. Reimbursement usually will occur within 10-14 days after submission.
What other FSA/HSA eligible products can I purchase?
If you are in need of other eligible products, such as standing desk chairs (or ergonomic chairs), we suggest reaching out to your FSA/HSA administrator to further assist you. To find the contact number for them, check the back of your FSA/HSA card.
What is a Health Savings Account (HSA)?
HSA stands for a Health Savings Account. According to HealthCare.gov, a HSA is:
What is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
Acording to HealthCare.gov, a Flexible Spending Account (also known as a flexible spending arrangement) is a special account you put money into that you use to pay for certain out-of-pocket health care costs. Here is more about FSA's from HealthCare.gov:
- FSAs are limited to $2,850 per year per employer. If you’re married, your spouse can put up to $2,850 in an FSA with their employer too.
You can use funds in your FSA to pay for certain medical and dental expenses for you, your spouse if you’re married, and your dependents.
- You can spend FSA funds to pay deductibles and copayments, but not for insurance premiums.
- You can spend FSA funds on prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter medicines with a doctor's prescription. Reimbursements for insulin are allowed without a prescription.
- FSAs may also be used to cover costs of medical equipment like crutches, supplies like bandages, and diagnostic devices like blood sugar test kits.
Other Ways to Get Reimbursed for a Standing Desk
If after talking to Kaiser and submitting your LMN, you find that you can't get covered for the cost of a standing desk, you’re left with 2 options:
Should I Switch Health Insurance Providers?
Considering that you can still find affordable standing desks under $200 and the monthly cost of health insurance is likely much higher than that, you probably want to wait on changing health insurance providers just because they don't cover the cost of a standing desk.
However, if you’re currently looking for health insurance providers to use or are going to switch health insurance plans, there are some that may reimburse for standing desks. You also may have better luck with your current or prospective employer.
Will my employer pay for a standing desk?
If you don’t want to change health insurance providers or are not looking for a new health insurance provider, your best bet may be to ask your employer to pay for your standing desk.
If your company has a wellness program, there is a strong likelihood they will be cover at least a portion of the cost of your standing desk.
The trend toward using sit stand desks at companies is growing. Out of the companies that have increased benefits offerings, 44% of them increased wellness benefits in 2018 alone. Standing desks fall under the wellness umbrella.
Apple made the headlines a few years ago when CEO Tim Cook said that all Apple employees will get standing desks and that he believes "sitting is the new cancer."
The use of standing desks in wellness programs grew tremendously from 20% to 53% from 2014 to 2018 (when Tim Cook made his comments), as shown in the chart below from Society of Human Resource Management.
While Kaiser Permanente has said it does currently reimburse for desk risers, they may end up changing their stance. It is important to contact Kaiser to make sure.
If you’re not covered by Kaiser you can opt to switch health insurance providers or you can ask your employer if they will cover the cost of a standing desk.
The trend toward wellness at work isn’t going away. Employers know that having healthier workers is directly related to improved company morale and lower cost of health insurance.
If you’re in the market for a standing desk, we have a great new tool we called Desk Finder that can help you find the perfect standing desk that fits your needs and your budget.