In an effort to fight back against the obesity crisis, several U.S. senators have introduced a bill to encourage healthy living.
Democratic Senators Chris Murphy (Connecticut) and Joe Donnelly (Indiana) have teamed up with Republican Senators John Thune (South Dakota) and Johnny Isakson (Georgia) to officially introduce the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT). The goal of the bill is to increase the level of physical activity in Americans by making it more affordable. If passed, the Internal Revenue Service’s definition of a medical expense would be expanded to make qualified physical activity expenses (e.g., fitness classes, gym memberships, and sports equipment) reimbursable using pre-tax healthcare accounts.
The U.S. is considered the most obese country out of all developed nations, with 35% of men and nearly 40% of women falling under this category. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) reports that close to 70% of Americans aren’t living an active enough lifestyle, with 83 million being what they term “totally inactive.”
Figures like these are staggering, and the highest that have ever been recorded. It is for this reason that the PHIT Act was created. The SFIA is leading the charge on this bill and is thankful to have received support from both parties.
According to Bill Sells, the SFIA’s Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, “Our physical activity message is resonating through the halls of Congress. We’re happy to have reached this milestone, but our work to increase physical activity in America will continue until the PHIT Act gets passed; the future health of Americans depends on healthy, active lifestyles and the PHIT Act will help lower the financial barrier of being active.”
There are also cost savings involved. The World Health Organization (WHO) calculates that the U.S. will save $3.20 in medical cost savings for every dollar spent on physical activity. That should result in a substantial reduction on the current healthcare cost burden and should save the nation significant money down the road.
The PHIT Act is still months away from being passed by congress, but the support it has already garnered from both sides is promising.
Source for Today’s Article:
Powell, M., “Sneakernomics: America’s Real Health Crisis,” Forbes web site, November 2, 2015; http://www.forbes.com/sites/mattpowell/2015/11/02/sneakernomics-americas-real-health-crisis/.