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Bartering for healthcare: Yardwork for treatment

NPR, September 26, 2011

Deb Barth is raking leaves for Lesley Jones. But Barth isn't earning money for her yardwork, at least not in physical currency. She's earning "time dollars" — for every two hours she spends doing odd jobs, she'll earn a free visit with her doctor. As a struggling artist, Barth's income qualifies her for the program at True North, a nonprofit healthcare clinic in Falmouth, ME. She's one of 33 patients who pay with time dollars there. "I do things like deep cleaning, organizing," Barth says. "I also offer caregiver support for people who may be caring for an older parent." So how does her doctor cash in these time credits? By getting free services from any of the other hundreds of people who belong to The Portland Hour Exchange Program. Tom Dahlborg, the executive director of True North, used to work in Medicaid, where he thought the patients weren't getting enough from their healthcare.