Can’t pay that hospital bill? Paint a picture! Dance a jig!

Hospital bills piling up? Can you paint? Draw? Sculpt? Dance? Sing? Act?

At Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, you can whack $40 off your health bill for each hour you spend working on a mural or offering some other artistic service. (The AP video above tells the story.)

Here’s more about the program in the hospital’s news release and an article in the New York Daily News.

Hold up, though: You have to be an uninsured person making a living as an artist to register for the bartering program, called the Lincoln Art Exchange, the press release explains. Actors, musicians, poets, dancers and writers can all qualify.

“For example,” the release explains, “for every hour of musical performances, painting a mural or any other creative activity or service, the artist earns 40 “health credits” (the equivalent of $40) toward medical care.”


That’s more than two whole baby aspirin tablets for some hospitals.

(When you think about it, Handel could have paid for the cost of treating a heart attack in the three weeks it took him to compose the Messiah, assuming he worked in a flat-out frenzy with no breaks and that heart surgery, not just leech therapy, was done in his time.)

The money-equivalent can go toward a range of services provided by the hospital, including doctor visits, prescription drugs, lab tests, hospitalizations, surgical procedures and more.

The program, aimed at helping struggling artists, is modeled on a similar one at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn that was launched in 2005.