More Health Professionals Bartering Their Services
By Monifa Thomas of the Chicago Sun Times
When Lincoln Park dentist Adrian Codel cleans a patient's teeth,
it�s not unusual for him to get his house cleaned as payment. Codel
is among a small but growing number of health care professionals
whose patients barter home repairs, party planning and travel
vouchers for teeth cleanings, check-ups and eye exams. Dentists, eye
doctors and chiropractors are particularly in demand for these
exchanges because their services often aren�t covered by insurance.
�Health care providers do well in the bartering world because the
cost of insurance is high, and it�s not necessarily covering things
like eye care and dental work,� said John Hora, vice
president/co-owner of Art of Barter, an Elgin-based company that
facilitates exchanges among 1,400 Chicago area businesses.
�We're finding more and more physicians and health care
professionals becoming more barter-savvy,� Hora said. In a typical
exchange, a dentist would trade a $600 tooth whitening for 600
barter credits from his patient�s barter group account. The dentist
could then redeem those credits for services that are provided by
other businesses in the group.
Art of Barter gets a 10-percent cut of transactions made between its
members, most of which are small businesses. Bartering between
businesses is legal as long as proper documentation is kept and
sales are reported as taxable income, the Internal Revenue Service
David Wallach, president of the International Reciprocal Trade
Association, estimates that $11 billion in barter transactions are
made each year in North America.
Codel has used his barter credits to get the floor in his office
refinished, acquire ink and toner for his dental practice, and take
trips to Lake Geneva. He also gets his house cleaned every other
week. But bartering can be even more valuable as a marketing tool
for his business. �If I can get one barter patient who can recommend
me to five cash-paying customers, that�s a good investment,� he
Less than 5-percent of Codel�s patients pay in trade. One of them is
Dan Merlo, a photographer who has used barter credits for
�everything from general cleaning and dentistry to a root canal and
Because he lacks dental insurance, Merlo said it would have been �a
huge strain� to pay out of pocket for the work he has had done on
his teeth. �I had to go into debt just to pay for an initial
reworking of my fillings and teeth,� noted Merlo, of Logan Square.
�When I was able to use barter credits for the dentist, I was really
excited about that.�
Bartering also has helped him pick up clients for his photography
business that he might not have gotten otherwise. Surprisingly,
though, the sour economy hasn�t increased demand for in-trade
exchanges, health care providers say.
�You would think it�d be something more people would want to do, but
the economy has slowed everything down,� said optometrist Robert
Levine of Advanced Eyecare Consultants in Libertyville, who has been
bartering with his patients for 15 years.
more information on Art of Barter go to