Monday, February 17, 2014

Bed and Breakfast Guests Ask If Amish Will Participate in Obamacare

Guests of the Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast have been asking us about the Amish and Obamacare or The Affordable Care Act.  Will the Amish need to participate?  How will the Swartzentruber, or poorest of the Amish be able to participate?

According to Reuters writer, Daniel Kelley, the Amish and some Amish-Mennonites will not be required to participate in the Affordable Care Act due to a little-known provision in the law that provides exemption.  It is the same law that provides the Amish exemption from paying into Social Security, thereby receiving no Social Security benefits.

The Amish hold to the Bible verse, "but if any provide not...for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (I Timothy 4:8).  They believe that paying social security would be expecting the government to care for their elderly members; and by participating they would be denying their faith.  Mandating their participation would be "abridging and infringing" on their religious beliefs. The Amish teach personal responsibility and mutual aid and strictly oppose federal intervention into their lives.

Holmes County Amish Making Hay

The Amish first opposed the government when in 1935 Congress passed "The Social Security Act," in which one component of that act is called "Old Age Survivors Insurance."  The Amish have always maintained a self-sufficiency stance wherein they adamantly refuse governmental assistance, whether in the form of farm subsidy, food assistance, social security benefits, or any other governmental aid. The Amish, and sometimes Mennonites, have on several occasions, gone to Washington to seek freedom from federal aid.  The Amish are not opposed to paying taxes; however, they are opposed to the participation in insurance.

The battle between the IRS and the Amish progressed into the 1960's, when in 1961, in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, the IRS seized work horses from Amishman, Valentine Byler, for payment of taxes due.  A detailed and most interesting history of this account and the years-long disagreement between the government and Amish is written by Brad Igou at Amish Country News.

Holmes County Amish Home In Winter


The Amish value their distinctiveness and self-sufficiency. In the spirit of Christian love, they share in meeting their brothers' and sisters' needs, often holding community auctions to pay catastrophic medical bills. Such an example occurred several years ago when a young husband and father of three sustained injuries from a fall from a tree stand while hunting. Unfortunately, several years after surgery and extensive medical care, he passed away, leaving his wife and the Amish community with medical bills totaling into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  An auction was held where the Amish donated vast quantities of merchandise; where proceeds exceeded more than was needed for the medical bills.  Community elders make sure that the widow and the children are cared for.

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
February 17, 2014

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