Can a Standing Desk be Covered by UnitedHealthcare?

Posted by Michael Lipka on

Date: July 28, 2022

Standing desks are being adopted by the majority of office workers as awareness has grown about how bad it is to sit too long at your desk. If you use UnitedHealthcare for 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 UnitedHealthcare?

Well, we did some digging and you might not be happy with the answer that we found. 

After about an hour on the phone getting transferred from one group to another at UnitedHealthcare, we at DeskRiser finally got a hold of someone that confirmed that UnitedHealthcare does NOT cover the cost of a standing desk. 

But that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck. You still have two options, which we will talk about more below.

UnitedHealthcare Does Not Reimburse for Standing Desks

After talking to various members of the UHC member benefits groups to see if UHC insurance would pay for standing desks, we managed to talk to someone that confirmed that even the people that work at UHC aren’t provided with standing desks and that UnitedHealthcare does not reimburse members for the purchase of stand up desks.  

There is some irony because in the past UnitedHealthcare gave out “Well Deserved” awards to those employers covered by UHC that “used an assortment of worksite wellness programs and activities including…treadmill and standing desks…”

Perhaps one day UHC will change its tune and provide a prescription for a standing desk. If you’re reading this and want to confirm yourself, try calling UHC at the following toll-free numbers:

  • 800-444-8990
  • 800-357-0978
  • 888-842-4571

    We did call all of these numbers as part of our research to see if UHC's health insurance covers the cost of sit-stand desks.

    How can I get help paying for a standing desk?

    Now that we confirmed UnitedHealthcare doesn’t cover the price of a stand up desk, you’re left with two options:

    1. Switch health insurance providers
    2. Ask your employer if they reimburse for standing desks

    Do Other Health Insurance Providers Cover Standing Desks?

    Considering that you can still find affordable standing desks under $200 and the cost of health insurance per month is likely much higher than that, you probably want to hold off on changing health insurance providers just because they don't cover the cost of a standing desk.

    However, if you’re currently searching for health insurance providers to use or are looking to switch health insurance plans, there are some that do cover standing desks.

    Kaiser Permanente, for example, is a health insurer that we confirmed does reimburse for a stand up desk, provided that you have a letter of medical necessity and that you 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:

  • headaches
  • back pain
  • joint pain
  • high blood pressure
  • neck pain
  • bad circulation

    Should my employer pay for 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.

    The use of standing desks in wellness programs exploded from 20% to 53% from 2014 to 2018, as shown in the chart below from Society of Human Resource Management.

    Corporate Wellness Benefits, 2014-2018

    Final Thoughts

    While UnitedHealthcare doesn’t currently reimburse for desk risers, all hope is not lost. If you’re covered by UnitedHealthcare you can opt to switch health insurance providers like Kaiser Permanente 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 call Desk Finder that can help you find the perfect standing desk that fits your needs and your budget.

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