The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on March 14.
If passed, the PHIT Act would allow pre-tax flexible and medical savings accounts to cover physical activity expenses, effectively reducing the out-of-pocket expenses for American families and individuals for youth sports fees, health club dues, training costs and more.
According to Congressmen Mike Kelly’s (R-PA) website — one of the legislators spearheading the House campaign — money saved in a pre-tax health savings account (HSA) and flexible spending account (FSA) can be used toward qualified sports and fitness purchases, such as gym memberships, fitness equipment and youth sports league fees.
Qualified expenses do not include private clubs owned and operated by members or clubs with golf, hunting, sailing or riding facilities. In the case of sports equipment — other than exercise equipment — reimbursement for a single item cannot exceed $250 and these pre-tax dollars cannot be used for general fitness apparel or footwear.
Currently, over 96 million Americans have access to health benefit accounts. Yet, the accounts do not recognize exercise as a form of preventative health care. This bill could open the door for more Americans to access health and fitness facilities.
Additionally, the website stated, “medical experts agree that financial barriers such as school ‘pay-to-play’ costs, fitness center dues, outdoor recreation fees and other expenses, serve as a hinderance to physical activity. The PHIT Act removes these barriers by allowing a portion of such funds to be used for qualified physical activity expenses — a much needed update to encouraging and improving mental and physical health.”
IHRSA is a supporter of the bill along with the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB.
“The health and fitness industry seeks to make physical activity accessible for everyone so they may experience the unmistakable benefits on mental and physical health,” said Liz Clark, the president and CEO of IHRSA, in a statement. “Staying active is the preventative key to better health and passing the PHIT Act will enable Americans to have affordable access to the physical activity options that are right for them. We thank Reps. Kelly, Panetta, Fitzpatrick, Sewell, LaHood, and Boyle, and Sens. Murphy, Thune, Cramer, Tillis, Marshall, Capito, Wicker, T. Scott, Baldwin, Sinema, King for their leadership.”
The PHIT Act has been introduced in every Congressional session since 2005. It passed the House in 2018 but did not pass the Senate.
IHRSA is encouraging health and fitness operators to contact their representatives about passing the PHIT act.