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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Introducing OldOrdercare

Local Old Order Mennonites, along with many of their Amish cousins elsewhere in the U.S., aren't really engaged in the current healthcare debate. They have a health plan of their own that works so well that they have been exempted from participation in the Affordable Care Act. They simply insure themselves.

A 1965 law passed by congress gave certain Amish and Mennonite groups the right to opt out of Social Security, Medicaid and certain other government benefits because of the kind of mutual aid they practice. With the ACA, they have the same exemption.

Donald Kraybill, professor at Elizabethtown College and author of numerous works about Old Order groups says, "The basic religious reason driving their resistance is that, as a religious faith, the church community should take care of its own members. If there's a disaster like a tornado, fire or hospital bill, the community should come together for that."

And it works, thanks to members paying as many of their own expenses for healthcare as possible, member families providing more of their own aging and end of life care, and with the local congregation (and if necessary, churches elsewhere) coming up with the rest. In many cases hospitals offer reduced rates due to their prompt and reliable payment of fees.

A recent Thomson Reuters report notes that another factor that helps keep their medical costs affordable is that Old Order groups generally live a more active and healthy lifestyle than the rest of the U.S. population, even though in some communities their children may be more susceptible to genetic disorders.

So there's a lot to like about OldOrdercare, a no frills, low stress and low overhead plan that simply requires a high level of trust in, and commitment to, ones community of faith.

And that's a price too few of us are willing to pay.

Later: After I posted this someone asked me for more information about "OldOrdercare" and how it works. There is, of course, nothing by this name; I'm simply describing something some churches have been doing forever, going back to the first century.
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