Pre-tax savings accounts for physical activity expenses?

According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, the US House of Representatives approved the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, which would allow the use of pre-tax savings accounts for physical activity-related expenses. PHIT has been a longtime priority of the SFIA and was included in a bipartisan package of Health Savings Account (HSA) reforms that passed in the House by a vote of 277-142. Now, the measure moves to the Senate for further consideration.

“Today’s vote to pass the PHIT Act in the House of Representatives is a huge step forward,” said Tom Cove, SFIA President and CEO. “SFIA and the PHIT Coalition have worked tirelessly to educate members of Congress on this innovative approach to promoting sports and fitness to improve health. Though we have a lot of work to do before the bill becomes law, we are very happy with this progress, and grateful to our congressional champions for their leadership.”

The PHIT Act has been a centerpiece of SFIA’s effort to increase activity in America, following SFIA’s success in securing over $1 billion in dedicated Physical Education funding for schools via the PEP Program. SFIA’s research identified a correlation between the rising costs of activity and declining youth participation numbers, which led to the development of the PHIT Act. By allowing the use of pre-tax dollars to pay for expenses such as youth sports fees and health club dues, PHIT effectively gives consumers a 22-37 percent discount on activity costs. As research has shown, increased activity improves health and helps prevent chronic diseases. The House passage of PHIT is a tremendous step for more activity in America and confirms congressional recognition that cost is a barrier to active, healthy lifestyles.

PHIT will help families with various activity costs, including pay-to-play in schools, organized team sports, individual activities, camps, clinics, classes, tournaments and qualified equipment. PHIT will also help adults’ activity, as it includes gym memberships, fitness classes, personal trainers, recreational sports/activities and other eligible activity expenses. Americans know that activity is good for their health, yet there continues to be a high rate of inactivity in the U.S.; the PHIT incentive will encourage investments in activity to improve health.

The most likely timeframe for the Senate to consider the PHIT Act is November/December 2018.