The PHIT Movement: An Election Year Cause for Everybody

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a physically active person. You take classes like Zumba, or you’re a member of a health club, or you’re a loyal client of a fitness studio. And my guess is – you’ve never heard of the PHIT Act. But you should.

Otherwise known as the Personal Health Investment Today Act, this proposed legislation has been before Congress for over a decade and would change the IRS definition of a “medical expense” to include physical activity as a form of prevention.  Kind of a “no brainer,” right?

And, as amazing as it may seem in today’s contentious political climate, PHIT has garnered support from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.   It is truly a bi-partisan measure.

Before understanding the impact of PHIT, one must understand the world of Health Spending Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs).  IRS rules allow you to put pre-tax income into these special accounts, but the money can only be used for IRS-approved definitions of “healthy spending.”

These accounts are enormous.  For an HSA, an individual can contribute up to $3,350 annually and family coverage can be as high as $6,650.  For FSA accounts, the current contribution limit is $2,550 annually. And this is tax-free money which may be used to cover IRS-acceptable medical expenditures not covered by health insurance programs.

The list of acceptable expenses is long and easily accessible online.  The basic idea of both HSA and FSA is to give consumers tax break incentives to live healthier lives.  It is a sad irony that among the IRS-approved expenses you won’t find anything related to fitness.

Enter the PHIT Act that seeks to expand the definition of “medical expense” to include a variety of fitness-related components as a form of prevention.

If adopted, PHIT eligible expenses would include gym/studio memberships, fitness classes (like Zumba), youth & adult sports’ registration fees, camps & clinics, and sports & fitness equipment solely used to participate in physical activity.

Billions of tax-free dollars would suddenly be eligible for these fitness activities.

As a non-partisan initiative, PHIT should be supported regardless of your political persuasion. It’s an absolute winner for everybody: individuals, healthcare, fighting obesity, saving taxpayer and government money – and it’s the right thing to do. Make your voice be heard!

You Should Know

  • Inactivity is the 4th leading cause of death, ahead of obesity/overweight
  • 28% of Americans are totally sedentary… a % growing each year
  • 2 of 3 children are not active to healthy standards
  • 80% of children are at risk for disease due to physical inactivity
  • The number of active adults has decreased 10% in the last 5 years
  • Inactivity negatively influences 5 of the other top 9 causes of death

 

Chuck Leve

Chuck Leve is a 40-year veteran of the fitness industry and proven successful developer of fitness industryassociations. Currently he serves as the Executive Vice President of Business Development for the Association of Fitness Studios (AFS). He's been involved in the creation and development of some of the most successful trade associations in the history of the fitness industry.

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