The health plan which passed the Senate on Christmas Eve provides for substantial fines for individuals who do not purchase health insurance.

A recent Daily Item article examines how the Amish, who do not use insurance outside of some forms of church coverage, may negotiate an eventual purchase requirement.

A religious exemption exists, and Donald Kraybill explains that a probable requirement for opting out will be “a long-standing historical exemption based on religious beliefs.”  Such a condition would likely be fulfilled by the 1965 exemption of the Amish from Social Security.

Numerous polls show the legislation under consideration as unpopular with the American public.

Critics contend this is at least partially to do with the additional government control exerted on individuals, such as this proposed fine, which varies from $750 in the Senate plan, to 2.5% of an individual’s income in the House plan (with some income-based exemptions).

Amish have come under criticism in the past by those disagreeing with the religious basis for their exemptions from institutions such as the military or Social Security.

If a bill with such a mandate becomes law, and assuming the Amish do work out an exemption, I imagine opponents of the bill will look on them and other religiously-exempt groups with envy, at the least.

Read more on Amish health care.

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