An Amish Couple Answers Questions – On Health Care, Mutual Aid, and How Church Rules Change (Video)

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.







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    1. Al in Ky

      Thanks for sharing these interesting videos about Amish life in the Chupps’ district.

      1. The Chupps are really an interesting and open couple. It’s too bad there are only a few interviews on Joseph Michaels’ YouTube page but I’m glad for the ones he’s shared.

    2. Denke for sharing the video’s Erik. For the most part the Amish settlements that we visit are more on the conservative side, but change does happen. Seeing a solar powered electric fencer was a new attraction! A bathroom inside was another! I still chuckle when I think back to the time years ago when we visited Amish friends that were building their new house and it had indoor plumbing. I said to the Mr, Aren’t you going to hell because you have a toilet inside? His response was, Not here we’re not!

      1. Not here we're not

        Ha that is a good one Terry 🙂 Since I know you’ve been acquainted with the Amish for decades, I wonder how many of those you know who have indoor plumbing now maybe did not 50 years back…

        1. Terry from Wisc

          Not here we're not

          Good morning,
          When the Amish started buying English farms and moving into my hometown area, tongues were wagging about the changes that they made that the locals didn’t agree with. Often you’d hear that the previous owners had remodeled their houses and the Mrs had a beautiful kitchen and I wonder what it looks like now? And why would they take the bathroom out and put an outhouse up? What nonsense!!! What’s wrong with those people? And what is an ordnung anyway? This was happening in the early 1960’s, and as I have stated in the past, the community was obtaining an education!

          As Maudie says in the Budget: Make it a good day!

    3. Debbie H

      I may not believe some of the doctrine of the Amish but they are the only group that truly live as a body of Christ was intended to live. They are a true “community”

      1. "Community"

        Community is a word that has gotten stretched over the years in meaning (eg, “the [insert broad social group here] community”). For instance, to use an example that might apply to me, the “Polish-American community”. That’s not really a community, that’s more a demographic or nationality-based broad category. Community implies interaction and closeness, and unfortunately the word has gotten distorted. I think it’s fair to say the Amish do embody this concept at its core.

    4. Judith

      This is what this country needs...

      This is proof positive that this Country could and should have Universal Healthcare. Paying according to one’s earnings and paying for the needs of others actually works fantastically well for the Amish. 100% of the time. Can you imagine an Amish person being denied help because of a pre-existing condition? Where only the rich Amish could go to the hospital and the poor Amish would die needlessly? Nope. The USA and the GOP in particular should look to this community when crafting healthcare for this nation.