FaithWorld

As U.S. struggles with health reform, the Amish go their own way

By Reuters Staff
October 7, 2013

(Two Amish men listen as U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in Lititz, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, October 27, 2004. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The debate over U.S. healthcare reform that has gripped the nation and led to a government shutdown is of small concern in rural Pennsylvania’s Amish country for a very simple reason.

Along with eschewing cars and many other modern technologies, the descendants of 18th-Century German immigrants who practice the Amish and Old Order Mennonite religions, have effectively opted out of Obamacare, along with most federal safety net programs.

A little-known provision of the law with its roots in a 1950s battle over Social Security exempts these communities from the individual mandate, an element of the Affordable Care Act that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance in some form.

But it is not the idea of health insurance the Amish reject – the close-knit communities essentially insure themselves.

“We have our own health care,” said a retired Amish carpenter, who like other Amish interviewed for this story, asked that his name not be used because of a traditional aversion to publicity and bringing attention to oneself.

“They (hospitals) give you a bill,” he said. “If you can’t pay it, your church will.”

Read the full story by Daniel Kelley here.

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