JAFSCD Food Systems Brief 07

French heirloom tomatoes

Bullet 07Using Health Insurance Rebates to Make CSA Membership More Affordable

(Brief by Jack Hilchey; original paper by Greg Jackson, Amanda Raster, and Will Shattuck)


Abstract from the original paper, "An Analysis of the Impacts of Health Insurance Rebate Initiatives on Community Supported Agriculture in Southern Wisconsin," published online September 30, 2011


Since 2005, four insurance providers in southern Wisconsin have offered rebates to policyholders who subscribe to a local community supported agriculture (CSA) operation. Rebate program participants rely on the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition (MACSAC) — an organization that supports CSA farms and educates consumers about local food systems — to connect the insurance companies with CSA growers and consumers and to manage various aspects of the CSA rebate program, including vetting participating farms. The rebate makes fresh, seasonal, locally and organically grown fruits and vegetables more accessible to consumers by reducing the cost of a CSA share by up to 40%. As a result, CSA members report increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, one of the main goals of the program. With marketing overseen by MACSAC and the insurance companies, the rebate program has led to a reduction in the amount of time growers spend on advertising their operations and recruiting CSA members and has contributed to increased member retention from year to year. Additionally, both the number of MACSAC member farms and the total number of shares offered by these farms have increased substantially since the rebate program's inception. These trends reduce some of the risk growers face and allow them to expand production in order to serve a larger consumer base. These outcomes associated with the MACSAC organization and the insurance rebate program indicate the success of the program, the importance of MACSAC as an organizing body, and the potential for implementing the program among national providers and in other locations where community supported agriculture is prevalent.

Keywords: Community Supported Agriculture; Insurance Rebates; Local Food; Wisconsin Agriculture

Image of heirloom tomatoes in France copyright © 2017 by Amy Christian.