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Healthy Lifestyles Cut Health Care Costs in Half -- Gym Memberships Should Qualify for HSA's & FSA's

Healthy Lifestyles Cut Health Care Costs in Half -- Gym Memberships Should Qualify for HSA's & FSA's

SILVER SPRING, MD – August 6, 2013 – The American tax code needs a full physical!  A recent story by a fitness writer revealed that the U.S. tax laws are not pro-physical activity.  And the director of the Women’s Heart Clinic at the Mayo Clinic – Dr. Sharon Mulvagh -- supports the claim.

In a July 10th story in the Chicago Tribune, journalist James Fell revealed that the list of qualifying medical expenses for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) in the U.S. does not include the one expense that’s the best way to combat stress, obesity, cardiovascular illness, and high blood pressure:  exercise!  Prescription drug expenses are covered under HSAs and FSAs, but not fitness-related expenses such as health club memberships which can have positive, long-lasting, and transformational effects on one’s health.     

"Cardiovascular risk factors are increasing, and the No. 1 risk factor is obesity," said Dr. Sharon Mulvagh to Fell. Mayo logo Mulvagh, a marathon runner and fitness advocate, is the director of the Women's Heart Clinic at the Mayo Clinic.  "More and more evidence is accumulating to prove what common sense already dictates. There are great studies out now about how exercise increases longevity as well as reduces cardiovascular disease risk."

Mulvagh believes that expenses associated with physical activity and fitness, such as health/fitness club memberships, should qualify for FSAs, HSAs and be tax deductible.  "The government has a role to play to promote healthy living,” stated Mulvagh to Fell.   “We could cut more than half our health care costs if everyone led healthy lives."

Mulvagh’s thoughts are in sync with those of PHIT America, which is busy trying to encourage the U.S. Congress to pass the PHIT Act (Personal Health Investment Today Act) which would change current federal tax law to allow for the expansion of reimbursable expenses on HSAs and FSAs to include expenses related to sports, fitness and other physical activities, such as health club memberships and youth sports registration fees.  Americans can help send a message, showing their support of the PHIT Act, to their members of Congress by advocating to this legislation on www.phitamerica.org.

Fell referred to recent figures from the American Heart Association and the rising health care costs affiliated with heart disease in the U.S. which will continue to rise unless Americans make changes to their lifestyles.  Right now, annual health care expenses associated with cardiovascular disease are at $350 million.  By 2025, they could be more than $600 million.  By 2030, they could exceed $800 billion -- unless Americans start making changes to their lifestyle and incorporate regular exercise into their lives.

“The PHIT Act is in line with Dr. Mulvagh’s suggestion in that it would allow gym memberships and other physical activity expenses to be covered by Pre-Tax Medical Accounts,” said PHIT America Founder Jim Baugh.  “Anybody can help us pass the PHIT Act by advocating here. “

To read the entire Chicago Tribune article and other relevant information, please Click Here.

PHIT America -- an educational, advocacy and social media marketing campaign -- is designed to reach millions of Americans and create a Movement for a Fit and Healthy America. PHIT America will combat the obesity and sedentary activity crisis -- which is having an adverse effect on health care costs in the U.S. -- by promoting new legislation and grassroots programs that will help get Americans more active, playing more sports, getting fit and becoming healthier.
PHIT America – www.PHITAmerica.org -- is a not-for-profit cause and campaign launched in January, 2013.

PHIT America 8505 Fenton Street, Suite 211, Silver Spring, MD 20910 

 

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