How do Amish support each other when disaster strikes? How do rules typically change in Amish churches? And how do Amish pay for health care?

Amish couple Ivan and Ruth Chupp of Burr Oak, Michigan share succinct answers to these questions in today’s interviews.

The three videos below are by Joseph Michaels, responsible for other interviews we’ve seen recently – on Pennsylvania German vs. High German, and the role of women in the Amish church.

Community & Mutual Aid

“In 1998, our store burnt down,” Ivan recounts. “Total loss.”

“Before the firefighters had left, there was people all over…dozens of people here, and they were going through, and sorting out…”

“Within a week, it was going back up. And it all just happened.”

“It’s something that we take for granted,” adds Ruth. “Because it just happens…But once you step out of the community and decide to leave… you’re lost. Cause we grew up with it.”

Here’s more on how Amish mutual aid works, looking at the example of the barn-raising.

Solar Panels & How Church Rules Change

Next, Joseph observes that solar panels seem to be more and more prevalent in the community. How did that happen?




“We grapple with the technology issue every day,” admits Ivan. “It’s because we really want to keep our way of life, but yet we realize things have to change.”

What’s most interesting here is Ivan’s explanation on how change occurs in Amish churches.

The popular idea has it that the bishop “rules” and whatever he decides is what goes for this church.

Rather, as Ivan explains, the dynamic is somewhat different.  “One reason why the Amish are so slow to change, if there is something that needs to be voted on in the church, it’s always done with a unanimous vote.”

Potential changes are presented to the church, the issue is “weighed out”, and then the bishop will make a proposal – after which the voice of the church decides. “If there’s two people that don’t want this, then it doesn’t go.”

You’ll see photos in this video from inside the Chupps’ variety store.

Paying For Health Care – “Free Will Plan”

How do Amish pay for health care? Ivan shares the short version of how it works in his church:

“First of all, I’m expected to pay my own bills,” says Ivan. “But if I’m not able, if it goes beyond my means, our church district of 35 families would get involved. And if it goes beyond that, letters would get sent out to – we have different groups. And so it would get sent out to maybe 100 churches.”

“They would say the hospital bill was $200,000…your church’s share is maybe $300.”

“And all of the bills get paid, 100% of the time…We’ve had several bills close to a million dollars.” The larger the bill, the more involvement from outside.

“It took us a while to get there, but a lot of the hospitals and doctors are now recognizing that we pay our bills, so they are willing to negotiate. Because they want our business.”

Ivan compares the rates they get as being similar to what’s seen with Medicaid/Medicare. Here’s more on how Amish choose a hospital.