A health clinic in Goshen, Ind. is being held up as an example of how to provide affordable primary care. The clinic’s model is simple – if people don’t have money to pay it’s OK. They can volunteer at an organization and earn $10 an hour to put towards their doctors bills.
Maple City Health Center Director James Gingerich says the approach is leading to better health outcomes and a stronger community.
“It’s a different marketplace than what we normally think of when we think of a medical marketplace,” Gingerich said. “It’s a marketplace of people working together in a community of trust. And working at finding the resources together to get the care they need and it is actually extremely cost effective.”
And he says the clinic’s cash flow has actually improved because they’re not experiencing as many problems with patients having bad debt. The Washington Post recently highlighted hospitals and health care centers around the country that have similar models, and included the Maple City Health Center as an example:
In New York, Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center allows eligible artists — actors, dancers, musicians, poets, writers and anyone else making a living through a creative means — to barter their services for doctor visits, lab tests, hospitalizations, emergency care, medical and surgical procedures, dental care, prescriptions and other services. A similar program has been in effect since 2005 at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn.
In Arkansas, the Bono Barter Clinic advertises that it will let you barter for health care with “something that you’ve made, grown, or produced, or a service that you provide.” At Maple City Health Care Center in Goshen, Ind., patients who can’t afford to pay for their medical care can instead volunteer their time at community organizations.
A Managed Health Services report recently said if the Maple City Health Care Center’s model to health care was commonplace in Indiana, the state could save $902 million a year in Medicaid spending. But Gingerich says the model wouldn’t work without engaged community partners and for that reason Maple City’s approach might not work in every community.