About Us

Since 2002, True North and Hour Exchange Portland (HEP) [formerly called Portland Time Bank], two nonprofit organizations, have offered an innovative approach to health care for uninsured or underinsured HEP members. Our collaboration allows income-eligible HEP members to pay for health care at True North with units of service (valued equally regardless of skill level) that are “banked” by members and then exchanged as credits and debits (indirect bartering). This pioneering relationship between HEP and True North has paved the way for other health care providers to pilot similar programs.

How It Works
Income-Eligible Guidelines
Become a HEP Member
About Hour Exchange Portland
How This Collaboration Increases Access

How It Works
Here is how paying for health care with time credits works: HEP members who are income-eligible are made aware of the availability of health services at True North and HEP makes appropriate referrals to practitioners (or vice versa). True North practitioners accept time dollars as payment for health care and provide medical treatment to the patient-members. True North’s practitioners provide a wide range of services from family practice and women’s health care to psychiatric and pediatric care to complementary services such as massage and acupuncture. If a HEP member is not income-eligible, True North offers a 10% discount on services rendered as a means of supporting time banking.

Our guidelines require that HEP members who wish to use their time credits to receive health care at True North meet the income-eligible guideline of 225% of the Federal Poverty Level (FLP) and have no other form of health insurance. The 2009 income guidelines for the HEP-True North access program are as follows:

True North Income Guidelines – 2012
(FLP refers to Federal Poverly Level)

Family Size 225% FLP
1 $ 25,132.50
2 $ 34.042.50
3 $ 42,952.50
4 $ 51,862.50
5 $ 60,772.50
6 $ 69,682.50
7 $ 78,592.50
8 $ 87,502.50

For each additional person add: $ 8,910.
(SOURCE: 2012 HHS Poverty Guidelines - Federal Register notice, January 26, 2012)

Become a HEP Member
If you are interested in becoming a member of Hour Exchange Portland, please contact HEP at 207-874-9868. Please note that interest in the True North-HEP collaborative program may outpace the spaces available.
If the practitioner you wish to see is not accepting new HEP patients, you can always use the HEP member 10% discount. Be sure to bring your HEP ID card when using services at True North.

About True North: Read about our history, our model, our mission and more in the About Us section.

About Hour Exchange Portland (HEP)
HEP (formerly Portland Time Bank) was founded in 1997 by Richard Rockefeller, MD after he learned of the ground-breaking work of Dr. Edgar Cahn, creator of Time Dollars and TimeBanks USA. As a long-term supporter of programs that positively impact social and environmental causes, Dr. Rockefeller decided to invest in a local model of Dr. Cahn’s work that would help Portland residents help each other.

Hour Exchange Portland is a member-led community service exchange based on the equality of time, empowering individuals to utilize their assets and enhance their lives, neighborhood and community. Over the years HEP members have exchanged over 150,000 hours of service including over 25,000 hours of health care.

HEP brings people together from all social, economic, and cultural backgrounds and has been featured as a local solution that should be replicated across the country as part of America’s economic turnaround on NPR, PBS, The Colbert Report, The Early Show on CBS, The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and in The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and Newsweek magazines. HEP empowers individuals and organizations to build community and reciprocal networks where everyone gets their needs met and are appreciated for what they can contribute.

How This Collaborative Relationship Increases Access to High Quality Health Care in our Community
True North and Hour Exchange Portland were established to provide creative, replicable, and viable solutions to broad-based, complex social problems: health care delivery (in the case of True North) and economic inequity and lack of community (in the case of HEP). Our collaborative project focuses on health care and our objective is to increase access to high quality health care and improve the health status of individuals who are underinsured or uninsured.

The overarching goals of more access to health care and increased community support are directly in line with the missions of our organizations. Access to high-quality, integrative care is a focus of True North as reflected in its by-laws, which state that True North exists in part to “make complementary and alternative care modalities, offered in collaboration with traditional medicine, accessible to individuals of limited means.” We do this by offering evidenced-based cutting-edge chronic disease management, prevention and wellness programs through an integrative health center model. As a national training center for startup Time Bank/Exchanges, HEP has a mandate to assist groups interested in starting Exchanges to establish functional Exchanges.

In the state of Maine, as in many places across our country, we face the challenge of providing health care to individuals who cannot afford coverage. Issues abound for both patients and practitioners regarding free or subsidized care.

While there are time banking organizations in 42 states and 22 countries, Hour Exchange Portland is the only Exchange that is directly exchanging time dollars for traditional medical care via our collaboration. Our collaboration has been watched with interest by a medical community faced with severe challenges in addressing the myriad of health care patient’s needs within an abbreviated doctor-patient visit and the increasing number of persons who can only afford catastrophic insurance. HEP and True North have used paying for health care with time dollars to improve access and patient outcomes. Data from a study of HEP members who receive care at True North show positive preliminary outcomes.

True North is a unique practice in all aspects. From its governance model to its practitioner credentialing application and peer-review processes, True North took the best of what exists and created the rest through a collaborative, multi-disciplinary process. True North’s mission of honoring of the patient’s health and welfare is in perfect alignment with HEP’s mission of connecting people and improving their quality of life in our shared community.

Note: Program guidelines are subject to change without notice. Please check this page often for the most up-to-date information.


(207) 781-4488

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