I ran across an interesting article today, CARE TO BARTER? by Alex Nixon which I feel has merit for my readers…
In a nutshell, the article makes note of a small business owner who – in the age of diminished employee benefits – has found a way to provide orthodontic coverage for his staff and their families. With the help of a Pittsburgh bartering exchange, Owens has improved his employee morale and health by trading services and goods as a less expensive way to provide better benefits.
This is no small program; Owens is one of 3,000 businesses participating in the exchange process rather than eliminating or reducing employee-related health benefits. Green Apple, now known as one of the nation’s largest exchanges, initiated its services in 1991 and now runs roughly $50 million annually in bartering transactions. There seems to be very few goods or services missing from the network – ranging from office cleaning to independent health providers. One dentist quoted in the story has used his exchange dollars to meet a wide variety of his practice’s other business needs.
The most interesting part of the article, however, was the awareness that exchanges such as Green Apple eliminate direct exchanges between businesses. Acting similarly to the position of a “bank” where the barter dollars and transactions are tracked, the company offers an “authorized form of payment recognized by the IRS.”
The question I see in all of this is whether the rising cost of health insurance, and the need for dental and vision services will drive an increasing use of bartering in the health services industry. What are your thoughts about this topic? Have you already experienced its possible impact?