Financially supporting your children is part of the imaginary contract you sign when you become a parent, but we all know this can be a struggle for a lot of families. Unfortunately, tight family budgets can make it difficult to pay for the extracurricular activities kids want to participate in, like youth sport leagues and travel teams, or swim lessons.
The reality of today’s world is that expensive physical activity programs, along with a higher cost of living, have made keeping our kids healthy and active a real struggle. These financial challenges are exacerbated in single income households and in homes with multiple children.
Getting and keeping our kids active improves their cardiovascular health, helps them maintain a healthy weight and builds strong bones and muscles. But youth exercise and athletics have additional benefits that reach far beyond improving physical health. Keeping kids active helps with brain development, boosts self-esteem and builds skills that can help them overcome adverse situations. The list doesn’t stop there. Organized physical activity can instill a sense of discipline in kids, and teaches them how to follow rules and how to work as a team to accomplish a common goal.
So how do we ease the financial burden to ensure that a larger number of families and children can afford to reap these benefits? The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (H.R. 1267/S. 482) is a bill that was introduced in both the House and Senate earlier this year. Under the provisions of PHIT families would be able to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to pay for an array of physical activity related expenses for both adults and children.
PHIT would not change the amount of money allowed in HSAs/FSAs, but it would expand the ways in which that money can be used. Traditionally HSAs/FSAs have been used for medical expenses like copays for medication and doctor visits, and dental and vision expenses. Under PHIT these funds can still be used for all of those necessary medical costs but those pre-tax dollars can also be used to help get kids moving. PHIT would make dance lessons, league fees, required equipment and uniforms, camps and clinics, martial arts, tournament fees, and more all qualified expenses eligible for use with HSA/FSA dollars.
It is nearly impossible to find a one-size-fits-all solution to solving the childhood obesity epidemic, but PHIT is one brick in the road to a solution. We can all agree that it is vital to invest in more initiatives that support getting kids active, which is a reason why this bill has had bipartisan support during a time where partisanship is high.
To help Congress pass PHIT, send a customizable letter to your Senators and Representatives asking them to sign on to the bill.
To find out more about PHIT or other ACE advocacy efforts email us at Advoacy@ACEfitness.org.