U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) today reintroduced the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (S. 680), legislation that would encourage more physical activity in the United States and incentivize healthier living by allowing Americans to use a portion of the money saved in their pre-tax health savings account (HSA) and/or flexible spending account (FSA) toward qualified sports and fitness purchases, like gym memberships, fitness equipment, and youth sports league fees.
“Investing in preventive health is one way Congress can help incentivize America to be a healthier nation,” said Thune. “For some Americans, certain gym or athletic league membership costs can be prohibitive, keeping them from pursuing healthy habits like exercising or participating in other physical activities. By giving Americans greater flexibility with their HSAs and FSAs, we can help people make healthy choices, get active, and hopefully avoid the onset of costly chronic conditions.”
“I'm proud to reintroduce the PHIT Act with Senator Thune. Our bill is a great first step to encouraging Americans to lead healthier, more active lives,” said Murphy. “The PHIT Act would allow folks to use their own flexible spending accounts to cover physical activity expenses like gym memberships, little league and youth sports, and other fitness related equipment. This will help drive down health care costs and reverse the trend of obesity, diabetes and other chronic preventable diseases.”
“Kids are sitting on the sidelines because they can’t afford the fee to play sports,” said Tom Cove, president of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. “This is wrong and dooms the U.S. to future generations of an increasingly sedentary population. Youth activity is the foundation for an active healthy lifestyle. Cost has become a barrier to youth sports and PHIT will lower that barrier to give more children the opportunity of a healthy life.”
“At a time where there has been some decline in youth sports participation, the PHIT Act is a bold step in the right direction,” said Wayne B. Moss, executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports. “Passage of the bill will help more young people play. Research shows that participating in sports leads to physical, social, emotional and cognitive development and puts young people on a path to healthier lifestyles.”
“PHIT would provide millions of Americans the opportunity to get moving,” said Graham Melstrand, executive vice president of the American Council on Exercise. “By significantly reducing the financial barrier to participation by allowing the utilization of Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts for fitness and sports related services and activities, millions of adults and children would have the opportunity to change their behavior and live more healthy, active lives.”
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.
The PHIT Act is cosponsored by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Angus King (I-Maine), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).