Written by Kevin Dehlinger, Executive Director, Sportsclub Fitness & Wellness, www.sportsclubsc.com
The rising costs associated with healthcare is a significant issue for most Americans and their employers resulting in the need for healthcare reform. A top priority of healthcare reform is to reduce spending through prevention of chronic illness. The World Health Organization reported that in the United States an investment of $1 in physical activity leads to $3.20 in medical costs savings.
Taking the lead from the World Health Organization, the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), and the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) collaborated to develop a bill that would incentivize individuals to be physically active. The result of that collaboration was the Personal Health Investment Today Act or PHIT Act.
The PHIT Act is designed to help prevent illness and costs associated with the obesity and sedentary crisis in the United States. The Act passed the House in July of 2018 and is scheduled to be voted on by the Senate in the next few months making it law.
Why is this important to me?
The PHIT Act will provide an incentive for adults and their children to increase physical activity, fitness, and improve their overall health, which will help prevent healthcare costs related to preventable chronic diseases. The Act will provide a prevention tool that does not currently exist in the healthcare system.
Ultimately, PHIT will allow individuals and families to use pre-tax accounts such as Health Saving Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to pay for qualified fitness expenses, including health club memberships, personal training, and youth sports fees. Taxpayers could place up to $2,000 a year in existing pre-tax medical accounts for reimbursement of health and fitness activities.
What kind of health and fitness expenses would PHIT cover?
- Health Club Membership Dues
- Exercise Classes
- Personal Training
- Youth Camps
- Pay-to-Play School Sports Fees
- Organized Running Event Registration Fees
- Martial Arts, Gymnastics & other Physical Activities
- Youth & Adult Sports League Fees
Where does the PHIT Act stand now?
The PHIT passed the House of Representatives for the first time in 2018 and was reintroduced in the House (H.R.1679) and Senate (S.680) in March 2019. PHIT has broad bipartisan support with 153 total sponsors—136 in the House (71 Democrats and 65 Republicans) and 17 in the Senate (6 Democrats and 11 Republicans).
PHIT America, December 4, 2018, www.phitamerica.org.
Vogler, Shannon. “PHIT Passes House For First Time, Makes History.” IHRSA, August 8, 2018, www.ihrsa.org.