In tough times, doctors bartering for treatment

Back in the old days--say, the early 1900s--doctors might very well have been paid for their services with a chicken or a few fresh-baked pies. Bartering, in fact, was more the rule than the exception. In recent times, however, that certainly hasn't been the case.

Today, however, with the economy turning sour, some physicians have turned to bartering, accepting office supplies, staff meals, carpentry and other services in lieu of cash. Not only does this save doctors on necessities, it helps build some physicians' patient base. (After all, most patients don't stay cashless forever.)

However, it's worth noting that bartering isn't as simple as it used to be. For example, physicians need to follow IRS and Medicare accounting rules. That means, among other things, that they have to document the bartering transaction. They also need to make sure they've got the right kind and number of bartering partners, experts note.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this AMNews piece