Bartering for medical services

Over the last year and a half I’ve bartered for dental services, physical therapy, chiropractic services, massage therapy and prescription drugs.  Some of this has been direct trade, but a lot of it has gone through one of my barter exchanges.  Here is a quick run-down of what I’ve done and the ups and downs.

Dental Services
My whole whole family goes to a local dentist that is 100% barter through IMS.  What’s really great is that he trades EVERYTHING including all the lab fees.  That’s also what’s bad about the deal because it got to the point where he was considering dropping barter because his cash expenses were so high.  I’ve encouraged him to start charging cash for his out-of-pocket lab fees (like paying for parts with an auto-mechanic) and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to continue bartering him for his services.  Lesson learned:  Watch out for too good of a deal because it can’t last.

Physical Therapy
My wife had major surgery on her neck and she just started physical therapy last week.  She has gone to a highly recommended therapist in the past so we tried to recruit him into a local barter exchange.  He was not interested.  I’m not sure if it was that he’s got a good enough cash business that he doesn’t need trade, if he doesn’t understand barter, or if he simply isn’t interested in jumping through the hoops that come with barter.  Regardless of the reason, he didn’t join.  I spoke with him after that failed and asked if he’d be interested in simply doing a direct trade and that I could access anything in the exchange directly without him having to join.  He did agree to that however it did feel like he was doing it as a favor  to my wife and I rather than because it was a good deal for him.  I really feel bad about that however, my wife really needs this therapy so we’re pushing forward.  I am very grateful that someone as in-demand as he is will trade with us.

Chiropratic services and massage therapy
These were simple transactions through our local exchange.

Perscription Drugs
You know what….this is a whole other article. I’ll come back and give you the details about bartering for perscription drugs soon.

It’s important to note that just because you paid on barter for these services, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t count toward your deductible on your insurance.  If the service provider doesn’t bill your insurance directly, then make sure you submit your receipts yourself.  The beautiful thing is, once you’ve hit your deductible, it is possible to pay for these services on barter, then get reimbursed by your insurance company in cash.  CHA-CHING!!!!

The ultimate barter birthday

My twin sons just turned 9.  Although my wife normally plans birthday parties this one was my responsibility as she is recovering from neck surgery.  My challenge was to come up with the coolest all-barter party I could.  Here’s what we did:

  1. We picked up my sons and their friends from school in a limo.  Finding a 100% barter for the limo was a challenge.  I ended up finding a company owned by someone I knew a little and traded him for gift certificates to a local gym.
  2. We had the limo drive us to a local bakery that specializes in cupcakes.  There each kid was able to decorate and eat their own cupcake.
  3. We then had the limo take us to a local amusement park where the I had prepaid “credit cards” for each of them that were good for mini-golf, bumper cars, video games, etc.  We hung out and played for a couple hours.
  4. Unfortunately we don’t have a pizza joint close to us that I can barter with so we had the limo stop by Costco for a couple pizzas.  That was quite an experience.  I never would have believed that I would shop at Costco via limousine.
  5. The kids then had a slumber party, but the next day we took them to a local gym where their favorite basketball coach gave the whole gang of kids a private lesson.
  6. Lastly the “goodie bag” for each kid was a $5 gift certificate from a local frozen yogurt shop.

Whew!  The only cash I spent was on tips (to the bakery lady and limo driver) and $20 worth of Costco pizza.

What I barter for

When I’m talking to a potential new barter partner about the possibility of joining a barter exchange, at some point or another they always ask the logical question: “What is available to purchase through the exchange?”   Unfortunately, I’m now buying so many things through barter that often I fumble at answering the question because my mind can’t quickly sort out that which I buy on barter from those things that I do not. To that end, I’d like to post here just a sample of items/services that I have personally bartered for just this month (the last 17 days).  Please note that this is not a complete list.  You should also note that this level of purchases is totally normal for me.

  • Regular martial arts class for all 3 of my kids
  • Dog grooming
  • Weekly book-keeping
  • Baked goods for employee gifts and person consumption (yum!)
  • Automobile smog test
  • A large number of clothes for my kids
  • House/office cleaning services
  • Weekly landscape maintenance
  • Pest control (sprayed for spiders around my house)
  • Low fat frozen meals (20)
  • Koolaid packets
  • Leather purse (gift for my daughter…. Don’t tell! <grin>)
  • Business lunch at a local restaurant
  • State map showing fishing locations (gift for hunting buddy)
  • Chiropractor
  • Massage therapy
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Programming services that I will charge a client in cash for
  • Regular basketball practice/coaching for my boys

My first Universal Credit trade!

I completed my first “UC” or Universal Credit trade today.  Here’s the deal:  There are a couple organizations that many trade exchanges can belong to that allow them to trade between each other.   It’s one of the ways to accommodate a trade  outside of my exchange network.

Once my new trading partner and I negotiated an initial agreement, we contacted both of our brokers and confirmed that they could send/accept UC credits. I was informed that the seller always needs to initiate a UC exchange so I gave my broker contact info for the buyer’s trade broker, the amount of the trade, and the name of the buyer’s exchange.   My broker than requested that the transfer  be made.  Later that day she contacted me and let me know that my account had been credited.  It was almost as simple as a normal trade within the exchange.  I  paid my normal commission to my exchange on the trade but there was no additional expense because UC was used.

It should be noted of course that not all exchanges belong to the organizations that allow for this kind of trade and even when they do, they have to have a stock of these credits on hand to accommodate the trade.

Barter vacation summer 2010!

OK, so it’s only a mini-vacation but still…it counts!  We’re going to start out by going to a big water park for all-day fun in the sun, then drive down to Santa Cruz for unlimited rides on the board-walk, then after that up to a vertical wind-tunnel to learn how to fly!  Even though it’s only a 3 day vacation, all of this for my family of 5 ( including two rooms for two nights at a nice motel near the beach in Santa Cruz would cost me a small mint in cash.  So it’s that much sweeter that I will be paying for everything but food and gas on barter!  Eat your heart out folks.  The only thing that isn’t completely nailed down yet is the water park tickets, but I’ve got a couple different people working on that and I’m flexible about  which park so I feel confident that it will work out.