SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Many people are familiar with FSA and HSA accounts, the tax-free savings accounts you can use to pay for many different health-care related expenses throughout the year.  Now South Dakota Senator John Thune is working on a bill to allow those tax-free dollars to fund more preventative health care.

“When their physical health and mental health are good, life is much more enjoyable,” Thune said.

It’s something Senator John Thune has learned firsthand, keeping up a healthy, active lifestyle all of his life; an investment he’s found to have many long-term returns.

“One of the things to reduce and mitigate the cost of health care in this country is to stay fit in the first place,” Thune said.

For several years, Senator Thune has been promoting the PHIT Act, which would allow Americans to use their tax-free healthcare savings and flexible spending accounts to pay for their active, healthy lifestyles.

“If you want to join a gym, enter your kids in a sports league, need football cleats or equipment, those are the types of things that would be covered,” Thune said.

“You look at the youth and their sports programming, it’s a great way to start their lifestyle out at the beginning,” Sanford Wellness Center Group Fitness Director Jill Fries said.

The Sanford Wellness Center along with many nationwide professional wellness and sports associations support the measure, saying it’s a huge investment in the future health of America, and sometimes the financial incentive is all it takes to give someone the push they need to get started.

“A lot of times we see costs being a factor and limiting people to joining a gym,” Fries said.

Depending on what you do, whether it’s a group fitness glass, or yoga or maybe just a gym membership every month, those bills can add up pretty fast.

“You could spend anywhere from $20 a class up to the money you’d spend on a personal trainer, ” Fries said.

If the PHIT Act passes, people would be able to use their tax-free dollars to cover any of those expenses. 

“Anything we can do to get people thinking more and hopefully investing more and taking more time and effort to keep healthy it’s going to save us all in the long run,” Thune said.

Thune said his PHIT Act has widespread bi-partisan support, but he believes the key to getting it to move through Congress is finding a major health care or Tax bill it can ride on.

While this bill would add gym memberships, sports leagues and equipment to the list of eligible HSA and FSA expenses, it would not increase the maximum dollar amounts people are allowed to carry in those accounts.