Amish, immigrants boost uninsured in Ill. county

By By DAVID MERCER

ARTHUR, Ill. (AP) — In many ways, Douglas County resembles most of its neighbors in eastern Illinois: a patch of rich farmland with an economy that provides comfortable incomes while keeping unemployment low.

It stands out, however, as a county with the second highest percentage of Illinoisans without health insurance — more than 17 percent. That's largely because of its Amish community, which doesn't buy coverage.

The Affordable Care Act overhauling the nation's health care coverage has religious exemptions that mean the Amish are not required to sign up.

But to say that the Amish are uninsured doesn't tell the whole story.

They have their own system, through churches, where members pool money to help each other. And they negotiate discounts that often allow families to pay bills upfront without tapping their safety net.

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