Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bartering for Medical Care

 Updated 3/2017-- all links removed as many are no longer active and it was easier than checking each one.

Earlier this week there was an article in my local newspaper (subscription only for full access) on a family physician in Bono, Arkansas who takes chickens as payment:  Bartering for Care – House calls’ a trade-off.
In lieu of payment, patients at the Bono Barter Clinic can exchange a variety of things such as produce or labor for medical services on Thursdays. House devotes the other four days of the workweek to his regular family practice - the House Medical Clinic - both practices in a former church along U.S. 63 between Bono and Jonesboro.
Of note is that this is 20% or less of his workweek, as the bartering only takes place on Thursdays.  As we all know, our utilities don’t allow us to pay via bartering.  Neither do the medical supply companies we purchase syringes, needles, drugs (ie lidocaine, vaccines, etc), and bandages from.
Still I do commend Dr. John House.  He is strict about certain rules which is also important to note.  The barter clinic won’t submit a bill to your insurance if you happen to have coverage.  Nor will they prescribe narcotics. has a full access story:  Medical clinic allows patients to barter for care
An amednews story from Jan 12, 2009 noted:  Trading for treatment: Bartering makes a comeback.  The article discusses the rules of bartering which will keep the IRS happy and makes suggestions to make bartering work for your practice.
  • Have a willing business partner. 
  • Find the right trade partner.
  • Keep your percentage of barter patients low.
  • Have an agreement in writing.
  • Make sure values are equal on both sides of the trade.
  • Follow Medicare rules.
  • Follow IRS rules. 
  • Keep good records.

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