The PHIT Act (Personal Health Investment Today) H.R. 1218 (U.S. House of Representatives) & S.2218 (U.S. Senate) is pending legislation that expands the IRS definition of a medical expense to include physical activity as a form of prevention. The practical impact of this definitional change would allow consumers to use their pre-tax medical accounts (HSAs & FSAs) on physical activity expenses to promote healthy lifestyles. The PHIT Act is an innovative concept that helps address two major Congressional concerns: (1) rising health care costs (2) the budget deficit. The rise in sedentary lifestyles is a major contributor to higher obesity rates and an increased incidence of expensive, preventable chronic illnesses. The PHIT Act will help reverse the ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ by providing an economic incentive to invest in physical activity. If enacted, physical activity expenses could be reimbursed using money in pre-tax medical accounts.
THE PHIT ACT: GREAT FOR THE FITNESS INDUSTRY
With nearly 82 million Americans who are physically inactive, working out in a health club, attending a group fitness class, or hiring a personal fitness trainer are three ways that Americans of all ages can get off the couch and moving.
“The best way to address our health care crisis is to improve health through exercise and physical activity,” says Tom Cove, president/CEO, Sports & Fitness Industry Association (Silver Spring, MD). “Being a member of a health club can be a great way to stay physically active for a lifelong physical activity that can make a difference in the health of Americans. The PHIT Act will encourage increased participation in fitness activities.”
To encourage your local Congressman and two U.S. Senators to pass the PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) Act, PHIT America has created an electronic letter on its website (PHITAmerica.org) which can be sent to members of Congress on Capitol Hill, asking them to co-sponsor and support the PHIT Act.
HOW WOULD THE PHIT ACT WORK?
Currently, pre-tax medical accounts are primarily used for reimbursement of medical expenses once you become sick. The PHIT Act would allow taxpayers to place up to $2,000 a year in existing pre-tax medical accounts for reimbursement of physical activity expenses.
By attaching a financial incentive to a physically active lifestyle, it will result in improving the health of all Americans. The PHIT Act will put prevention in our health care system and increase spending in the fitness industry.
“The PHIT Act would allow funds to be applied to most fitness expenses, such as fitness equipment purchases (treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes), health club memberships, group fitness classes, and fees for personal fitness trainers,” says Jim Baugh, founder, PHIT America, the non-profit cause working to get the PHIT Act passed.
The PHIT Act will also cover physical activity expenses such as sports league registration fees; pay-to-play fees;entry fees for 5K runs, triathlons, & marathons; and sport-specific equipment purchases such as golf clubs, baseball bats, soccer cleats, basketballs, and protective gear for baseball, football, and ice hockey.