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Barter group launches health plan

Phoenix Business Journal by Christine Harvey, Phoenix Business Journal
Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 6:40am MST

A new health care solutions plan allows more than 2,100 businesses in Arizona to purchase medical and dental spending programs for their employees — with no cash out of pocket.

Created by the Value Card Alliance, an Arizona-based commercial barter group, the flex spending plan gives its members access to more than 200 medical specialists across the state by way of bartering.

Bartering, the trading of goods and services without the exchange of money, is becoming a common practice in Arizona, according to local experts.

“We bring our members a client they may have never had and then help them use those dollars to pay for things they would otherwise pay for in cash — payroll, employee benefits, etc.,” said Christie Acevedo, CEO of the Value Card Alliance.

Companies that sign up for a free membership with the alliance may exchange their goods or services with other members in return for “virtual dollars,” which in turn may be used to purchase the new medical and dental flex plan.

The plan provides employees and up to five dependents each with a health care card that grants them access to an online system containing a directory of specialists, health care recommendations and storage for uploading medical files.

Acevedo said the online component took about a year to develop and is crucial to the overall plan, because it allows employees to go online to track the use of their medical plan.

The plan went into effect on Sept. 12.

Original Article Here