The Thinking 

The Amish and Health Care

March 26, 2010




THE AMISH are exempt from the new health care regulations. They also are not required to pay Social Security or Medicare taxes.

It is no surprise that most of America is now enslaved to government while the Amish are free. Look at the happy man and woman in this picture. This is patriarchy. No, not the buggy and bonnets, but the man and woman, secure in their separate identities and part of the march of generations. Look at the faces of these children. These people are alive. We, on the other hand, are in the process of a prolonged phase of cultural expiration.

Gail Aggen writes:

I was blessed to become acquainted 20 years ago with the Beachy Amish who live in my area. I have never seen a group of people enjoy their lives as much, or have as much fun as my plain friends. They are friendly, hardworking, and honest, with interests in many different subjects and hobbies (all of them wholesome). Their children play hard, hard, hard, and you notice that adults and children alike seem to possess a lightheartedness that lifts one’s own spirits. I will always be grateful for all that I have learned from them.

Laura writes:

One of the most striking things when you go into an Amish area is the children playing outside in large groups. Children also often work with their parents. I was at a local farmer’s market today and bought tea at a coffee stand. An Amish boy with suspenders and a shirt coming out of his pants waited on me. Amish children look different and it’s not just their clothes. They do not have that hardened look of children who are preternaturally worldly, as so many American children do, and they appear healthy, as if they have just come in from a game of kickball. You will never see an Amish child in an athletic uniform, but they look much more physically fit than their Little League counterparts. I’m sure an Amish child would find the American youth sports scene incomprehensible, with parents devoting so much time and energy to their childrens’ play.

The coffee stand is not owned by an Amish family. This boy must be related to the owners of a nearby stand. He has made friends with the coffee owners and it is very funny to see him working side by side with a woman with frosted hair, a tight T-shirt and a smoker’s cough.

Mabel LeBeau writes:

In my work, a single word that comes to mind when I think of the Amish is ‘community.’ This is similar to religious orders; family members live in a relatively healthy lifestyle incorporating development of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social growth for benefit of the whole individual in their environment. (I cannot speak to whether there is less insanity in religious or Amish communities, but probably there seem to be fewer sociopaths.)

A sense of working and living together is a foundation of the Amish life, a choice of daily commitment. Shunning, when members turn away from community, seems a mature, humane, responsible and honest way to deal with those with bad attitudes.

I recall working one extremely busy afternoon at shop when an Amish woman came in for a prescription from a community health clinic for a brand-name (tend to be more costly) antibiotic used to treat a painful urinary tract infections. Knowing she wouldn’t have insurance, but there were less expensive drug alternatives for the condition, I asked the patient if I could call the prescriber for something else, but that it would probably take some time to make the change and fill it because the clinic and we were extremely busy. After a minute, she decided it was acceptable to her. What stands out in my memory about the incident is that while she seemed happy enough to not have to pay a large sum for an equally effective drug, her concern was making arrangements to come back to pick it up. She was grateful to the solicitous individual that had taken her to the clinic and the pharmacy, but she didn’t want to be of further inconvenience.. Of all the rudeness and lack of civility observed earlier in the day, I was struck by her simplicity and compassionate attitude.

On another occasion, I was training at a burn center where one of our youngest patients was a little Amish girl who had fallen through an uncovered flue on an upper floor to the top of a hot furnace. With burn victims, there seems to be no end of daily skin therapy after the initial growth and grafting. Every day this second youngest in a large family had family and community members in her room and the waiting room. The medical costs have been astonishing for essentially intensive physical and medical treatments and surgeries, and I’m sure that the tax-payers bore the brunt of the bills, [Laura writes: The Amish do not take Medicare or participate in insurance plans.] however when one looks at the whole of it, this seeems to be of a holier purpose (without consideration of rendering to Caesar…) than intensive state-of-the-art medicine in the last days of death.

Laura writes:

The hospitals in Lancaster, Pennsylvania are among the most solvent in the nation, according to a friend who is an executive for a large health company. The Amish pay in cash and pool resources to cover the sick.


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