History of Alberta Blue Cross

View our timeline


More than 60 years ago a small blue cross became the symbol of a bold new movement to help Albertans struggling with the daunting challenge of paying for medical care.

Alberta Blue Cross began as a company dedicated to helping people pay their hospital bills in an era when universal health care didn't exist. Today, we provide over 1.6 million Albertans with quality supplementary health and dental benefits.

How it started

Beginning with the simple objective to cover basic hospital care, Alberta Blue Cross has continuously adapted to the changing needs of Albertans. Today we deliver a broad range of supplementary health benefit programs and services.

Alberta hospitals were behind the formation of the Alberta Blue Cross Plan in 1948. Under an Act of the Alberta Legislature, the Associated Hospitals of Alberta (AHA) was incorporated and permitted to establish a voluntary, pre-paid, not-for-profit Blue Cross plan.

The Plan essentially served as an extension of Alberta's hospital sector, offering a province-wide hospital care plan for working Albertans. It gave patients affordable coverage for needed hospital services. At the same time, Alberta hospitals gained greater financial security because the Plan paid patient bills.

Supplemental health coverage

Continual innovation has marked the history of Alberta Blue Cross since 1948. With the introduction of Medicare in the late 1960s, Albertans no longer needed basic hospital coverage, but they wanted other, supplementary, coverage. Alberta Blue Cross responded with benefit plans for services such as prescription drugs, ambulance service, home nursing and health-related appliances.

Since the early 1970s, Alberta Blue Cross has administered Alberta Government-sponsored supplementary health benefit programs. These important programs are for seniors and Albertans who did not have coverage available through an employer.

To meet customer demands in the '70s and '80s, Alberta Blue Cross added coverage for dental care, vision care, outside Canada emergency medical, disability and life insurance—resulting in a full line of health benefit products.

Standalone act introduced

By the 1990s, less than one per cent of Alberta Blue Cross business related to hospital claims. Changes in Alberta's health care system further rendered irrelevant the original legislation governing the operation of the Alberta Blue Cross Plan. In response, the Alberta government replaced the outdated governance legislation with a new stand-alone act, the ABC Benefits Corporation Act, effective December 1, 1996. ABC Benefits Corporation continues the operation of the Alberta Blue Cross Plan.

Today and into the future

The ABC Benefits Corporation is governed by a board of directors, representing a broad and diverse cross-section of Albertans.

Alberta Blue Cross is now the province's leading supplementary benefits provider, serving over 1.6 million Albertans and offering just about every type of health benefit available. We look forward to remaining your leading, local choice for many years to come.

?
What is a Blue Cross Plan?

Learn about our governance.

Back to top