Barter a Fix For the Medical Profession?


There are more and more articles every day that tout the use of barter, and more often than not the articles are targeting people that don’t own businesses, that have no formal barter experience, and that haven’t consumated their first trade. For many, that can be a daunting task, and unless there is some heavy motivation in the form of economic disarray, most are not going to take the steps to become full or part time barter-lovers.

Enter the Medical Profession…

Perhaps we need to look at barter as a means of giving primary care to people that are under or uninsured. Surely a doctor’s office can find creative uses for things that potential clients can offer in trade for medical care?

I owned a barter exchange for a number of years, and chiropractic and dental barter was always easy to come by, but then one day a sales person in my office made a discovery: smaller medical clinics trade. We had a doctor of family medicine, someone who could remove moles, prescribe medication, give stitches and splint or cast breaks, open up to trade. Many people don’t see a doctor at the beginning of an illness because the cash expense outweighs the perceived value of the cure. If a person could trade for the proper care, at the beginning of an illness, perhaps the cash drain on the current insurance scheme would go down, and those that can’t currently afford insurance would be offered plans at more reasonable, even affordable, prices.

In an article on, the author intimates that this change is coming:

  • Consider bartering.
  • “The worst that can happen is that they say no,” says Tom McDowell, former owner of ATX The Barter Company, based in Mentor, and the former executive director of the National Association of Trade Exchanges, the professional organization for business-to-business barter companies.

    “But you have to trade on value, not time. You can’t trade two hours of lawn mowing for two hours of dental service.”

    This idea of bartering with the medical profession isn’t the end-all fix-all that most people want, but it would be a good start in the right direction. And if the clinic didn’t want to handle the barter themselves, I’m sure a local trade exchange would be more than happy to pick up the slack.


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