Medical Idol, Bartering Talent For Health Care

Affording health insurance is tough for many people. Lincoln Hospital located in Bronx, New York lets uninsured New York City artists exchange their art for medical services.

Under the program, artists will earn “health credits” for every creative service they perform. In exchange they’ll be able to obtain doctor’s visits, laboratory tests, hospitalization, emergency care, dental care and prescriptions at Lincoln.

The Lincoln Art Exchange allows artists to barter their talent for care by providing $40 in health care credits for every hour of work that they do. “For example, an actor could read a passage from Romeo and Juliet for an hour on an in-patient unit and in return that person would get $40 in health care credits,” according to Renata Marinaro of the Eastern Region for the Actor’s Fund. “Most artists make roughly maybe $24,000 a year on average … and they need to get their health care and this is an excellent way for them to get that health care and contribute to the community,” Marinaro said.

Applicants will go through an interview process to demonstrate their work that is designed to assess what area of the hospital would be best suited for their artistic abilities.

The Lincoln program is modeled after the Artist Access program at Brooklyn’s Woodhull Medical Center that started in 2005 and now helps more than 400 artists.

What do you think about allowing artists to barter for medical services?

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