Jesse Martin shuns health insurance and government aid, although nine of his kids are seriously ill. Like other self-sufficient Pennsylvania Mennonites, and Amish too, Martin avails modern medicine for the fatal diseases that are ravaging their families—but is hard-up to pay the bills, which Martin claims are inflated. "I just want to pay bills that are reasonable and fair," he says.
His story reveals the rosy financial state of nonprofit hospitals, which admit to raising prices to fund improvements, from new facilities to high executive salaries. But area hospitals say they are through negotiating and want Martin to sell his land—valued in the millions. "They don't understand our ways," Martin said. "If we sell the farm, sure, we can give them the money, but what do we have then?"