Barter Business Unlimited has been bartering health, dental, and vision services for years, but this year Debbie Lombardi, president of Barter Business Unlimited formalized the process for its members with “BarterCare.”

At the annual Barter Business expo Tuesday, Lombardi explained that her members now can use their barter dollars to cover the cost of health care services for themselves and their employees. The program officially launches in January.

Lyle Pennell, of Barnum Financial Group, explained that an employer can give their employee a high-deductible or health savings account, then give their employee $2,500 in BarterCare to off-set the costs of the medical services they plan on using throughout the year. He said it helps the employee better utilize their cash and make better decisions when it comes to insurance costs.

Lombardi said the program is not meant to compete with health insurance, but it’s a way off-set the cash spent on health care services. She said the barter dollars can even be used to cover co-pays at certain participating providers.

While the network is still growing, Lombardi said she’s hoping to add multiple physician practices looking for new patients. At the moment the network has vision, dental, podiatry, chiropractic care, walk in medical centers, and holistic care centers in the network.

She said it’s a win-win for medical providers too. The medical providers earn BarterCare dollars only when they receive a patient. She said there’s no enrollment charge for providers, who then can use their BarterCare dollars on other services or goods in the Barter Business Unlimited network.

Unlike health insurance medial providers are paid directly for their services and can use those barter dollars at the 3,000 member businesses from Springfield to New Haven.

Members that want to sign up for the program or check their balance on their BarterCare cards can visit the BarterCare.com website.