While we’re slowly climbing out of the hole, the US economy is still sluggish after the recession that struck in 2008. During these last four years or so, Americans have sought alternative and often creative ways of making ends meet. Once such way is one that’s been around for a while, but is seeing a resurgence in recent years: bartering. And one industry where bartering is growing in popularity is healthcare, where patients are trading any variety of goods and services for a doctor’s care.
As more Americans are losing their jobs, rendering them uninsured or underinsured, the barter system allows them to maintain their health in a way that they otherwise would not have been able to afford.
The True North healthcare clinic in Falmouth, Maine offers credit hours to people who participate in the Portland Hour Exchange Program and meet certain income requirements. In exchange for services like landscaping, organizing, and cleaning, patients can earn time to see doctors at True North for appointments lasting up to an hour. While the arrangement doesn’t cover specialist or emergency care, one of the most popular benefits to both doctors and patients is being able to work outside of the insurance/Medicaid systems which often involve mountains of paperwork and red tape.
There are multiple bartering organizations where participants from all over the country offer a multitude of goods and services. A quick search online brought me to a site called “Trade Rewards” where the healthcare category offered radiological, mental health, home health, and podiatrist services, all within 25 miles of my location.
It is important to remember though that the IRS requires the fair market value of any goods or services received through bartering be reported as taxable income. Be sure to report it in your tax return for the year in which the exchange took place.
What do you think of bartering for care? Have you tried it? Tell us about it!
Sources: npr.org, barter.com, myfoxny.com, and traderewards.net