You might joke that paying insurance premiums is "against your religion," but for some people in Ohio, it really is. Ohio's workers' compensation laws allow members of religious sects who object to the payment and acceptance of insurance benefits to apply for an exemption from providing or being covered by this otherwise mandatory insurance program.
While written in fairly general terms, this exemption applies primarily to the Amish and Mennonite communities in Ohio.
Why Is Insurance Against Their Religion?
Many members of Amish and Mennonite sects believe the concept of insurance violates their faith in God. Because they believe God controls all things, they think it shows a lack of faith to purchase insurance against something bad happening. Generally, health insurance isn't an issue in these communities. They don't believe in it, so they don't purchase it. Members of these communities are expected to be responsible for their own healthcare costs, and many communities have a church-run fund to help members who can't afford the care they need.
Why Is Workers' Compensation a Problem?
For Amish and Mennonite business owners, opting out of providing workers' compensation for their employees isn't always an option. In fact, it wasn't an option before the Ohio legislature passed the religious exemption provision in 2003. Even now, the employer and all of his employees must apply to the Bureau of Workers' Compensation for the exemption.
So, if an Amish business owner employs non-Amish workers, the law requires him to provide workers' comp for his employees. However, for the typical small operation run by an Amish owner employing only Amish workers, this exception is important.
How Does This Affect You?
There are roughly 100,000 members of Amish and Mennonite communities in all of Ohio, and I'll wager that not one of them is reading my website. But this exception is important because it tells you just how hard it is for an employer in Ohio to get out of providing workers' compensation for their employees. It's not a choice for the vast majority of business owners—they're required by law to carry the insurance.
If you were injured at work and are struggling to get the workers' comp benefits to which you are entitled, I may help. Request a free copy of my guide to workers' comp in Ohio and contact my office to discover more about what we do to help injured workers.