It is possible after December 31, 2018, we may see a new way to reward wellness. Could this impact future cancer rates if we embrace a wellness mindset while also saving money?
According to the American Cancer Society, body weight and obesity is linked to about 8 percent of all cancers. Increased weight gain can also be linked to some cancer recurrences, too. Maintaining a healthy body weight helps prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other illnesses. Yes, we are going to age and we will not live forever, but maintaining wellness may help us to enjoy and maximize the years we have left.
I am very excited to keep an eye on the PHIT Act. The PHIT Act is the Personal Health Investment Today Act. It is believed it can help to prevent unnecessary illness and give Americans a financial incentive to stay physically healthy and improve upon personal and family health. The legislation that appears to be in the introduction phase with Congress would allow individuals with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to use the account toward physical activity-related wellness expenses pre-tax dollar. The FSA can currently only be applied to approved medical and health care-related expenses that are needed when a person is ill. So, it is not necessarily for the type of expenses we make to maintain health. Such currently approved FSA expenses include for example co-payments and deductibles for physician visits, dental care and vision care, but has not included provisions to maintain wellness other than through an annual physical or potentially for a visit with a registered dietician to manage a healthy diet. With the potential incorporation of the PHIT Act, families or individuals could potentially deduct approved gym memberships, yoga classes, martial arts classes, pay to play sports, youth camps, personal training services, physical fitness equipment, or other approved wellness related activities and sports from an FSA.
As a cancer survivor and wellness professional, I feel I am very familiar with the benefits of physical fitness and believe it is just as important as mental wellness and currently approved medically related expenses allowable with an FSA. Anything we can do to be proactive with our health has the opportunity to help us live healthier, extend the quality of the life we live, and to bounce back quicker following illness or any unexpected injury we may experience.
In the long run, the PHIT Act could reduce the amount spent by health insurance companies as individuals would take more responsibility to be physically fit, and people with an FSA could see not only health-related benefits of wellness, but also financial incentive. With childhood obesity in the United States on the increase, it might be a great time to see a change of thinking from health care to the idea of prevention and well care. Currently, there are some insurance companies who reimburse participants for actively participating in wellness related activities, but from my awareness of providing receipts to my clients these plans are very limited and there are very few. The approval of health-related activities might help to change the mindset of wellness and provide financial savings for those of us who use an FSA.