As the largest provider of health benefits in Alberta, we believe we have the potential and responsibility to impact people’s lives for the better. We believe all communities should thrive and we are committed to serving as a champion for wellness by supporting the health of our customers.Download the full Annual report PDF here
2021 was truly a year of embracing change for Alberta Blue Cross®, as we moved forward together with our customers and communities to support them in living their best lives in the midst of the new reality presented by the pandemic.
While the sustained impact of COVID-19 affected every aspect of our lives over the past year, Alberta Blue Cross® continued to see growth across our business while building upon our capabilities to deliver the exceptional service and experience we are known for.
This growth was complemented by the introduction of new products, services and programs across all three business units to meet burgeoning customer demands.
Alberta Blue Cross® appreciates our close and long-standing relationship with the Government of Alberta, and our top priority through 2021 was supporting the government with its pandemic response through administration of the COVID vaccination program. By the end of the year, we processed over three million claims for COVID-19 vaccinations.
At the same time, Alberta Blue Cross® made significant progress on initiatives to gain efficiencies in the interest of enhancing customer experience. One example of this is our digitization initiatives where we have over 90 per cent of group plan members now enrolling online themselves. As well, we saw substantial year over year growth in utilization of our member website—climbing to 3.58 million visits in 2021—providing the convenience of 24/7 access to our plan members. As we have seen consumer preferences shift online through the pandemic, this has resulted in even higher utilization of our online claim submission tools. Today over 98 per cent of claims are submitted online, with most processed in real-time. This has also substantially reduced our environmental footprint.
As a champion for wellness, Alberta Blue Cross® advanced our commitment to wellness in 2021 through the introduction of new products and services including care navigation, wellness screening, internet-based cognitive behavioural Therapy and virtual care. Meanwhile, we had phenomenal success with our Faces of Wellness campaign receiving more than 140 compelling submissions from across Alberta.
We accomplished all of this while we have continued to expand our community engagement in fulfillment of our Social Purpose. Through 2021 we elevated our community impact through a wide range of initiatives— including our COVID Community Roots Program through which we supported more than 50 projects spanning the province.
We also achieved Caring Company accreditation in recognition of our commitment to our communities.
Alberta Blue Cross® exists to promote the health and wellness of our customers and communities. Our 2021 Leger corporate reputation study results are a testament to this commitment, as we continue to exceed our reputation benchmarks in comparison to our key competitors while also maintaining an exceptionally strong brand.
As we look beyond the pandemic, we remain committed to building together with our customers and communities.
Building a strong
health care system
Alberta Blue Cross® has a close working relationship with the Government of Alberta as we are pleased to administer a wide range of government-sponsored benefit programs. Through 2021, this role continued to grow as we expanded our support of government health programs and initiatives.
Supporting the Government of Alberta through COVID-19
As the administrator of the pharmacy vaccination program, we processed over three million pharmacy claims for COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021 and continue to do so. Our role has not only been to adjudicate claims but to be a central hub for information and help Albertans navigate to participating pharmacies through our website.
Transitioning Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL) program benefits
In 2021, the Government of Alberta transitioned the administration of AADL medical surgical, benchmark mobility, prosthetic, orthotic and footwear benefits to Alberta Blue Cross®. Moving all AADL benefits to Alberta Blue Cross® provides the government with access to our specialized expertise, modern technology platform and claims adjudication systems.
Metis Nation of Alberta Wellness Program
Alberta Blue Cross® entered into an agreement with the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) to establish and administer the MNA Wellness Program, which offers mental health support to their 52,000 citizens. MNA citizens of all ages are eligible for up to 12 hours of free counselling and lifestyle and specialty coaching through Homewood Health within the benefit year.
Building an even better
Our customers are at the centre of our business and making sure every experience they have with us is positive is our number one priority. Throughout 2021, we continued to ensure our customers felt heard, cared for, understood and valued.
A new partnership with Geoblue
CanAssistance, our travel provider, partnered with GeoBlue to make it easier for members to submit emergency medical travel claims in the United States. Members are able to avoid upfront costs for authorized medical expenses, giving them even more peace of mind when travelling in the United States.
Committed to customer service excellence
Excellent customer service is the cornerstone of our commitment to delivering an unparalleled experience to our valued customers. In 2021, we managed more than 600,000 member inquiries achieving our first call resolution target of 77 per cent. We also saw use of our member site climb to 3.58 million visits.
Website and app enhancements
In 2021, we continued to expand our online services including introducing a new intuitive navigation and look to our member website and app, introducing fingerprint and facial recognition sign-in options for our app, and improving access to digital ID cards through both our website and app.
Building personal benefit plans
for all Albertans
We continued building strong relationships with our personal health plan customers, listening to their needs and providing new and innovative products and initiatives to meet those needs.
National life and living benefits
In collaboration with Blue Cross Life and the Canadian Association of Blue Cross Plans, Alberta Blue Cross® joined our fellow plans in launching a national personal term life insurance product in May 2021. This was the first time all Blue Cross plans across Canada have offered the same products across the country for the same price—leveraging each other’s strengths to support our customers.
Healthy food prescription programs
In partnership with the University of Calgary, Alberta Blue Cross® helped recruit interested personal health plan members to participate in a research study to investigate whether providing healthy food subsidies for food-insecure adults living with Type 2 diabetes will help them to better manage their condition. This research study will help us examine the feasibility and impact of healthy food subsidies as a potential wellness solution for our members.
Travel coverage resumption
As the pandemic continued but travelling resumed in accordance with new restrictions and precautions, we resumed selling emergency travel insurance. At the same time, we also began providing coverage for COVID-19 related incidents for customers who have emergency travel benefits as part of their plans.
Interested in reading more?
Alberta Blue Cross® exists to promote the health and wellness of our customers and communities. Our 2021 Leger corporate reputation study results are a testament to this commitment, as we continue to exceed our reputation benchmarks in comparison to our key competitors while also maintaining an exceptionally strong brand. As we look beyond the pandemic, we remain committed to building together with our customers and communities.
Alberta Blue Cross® provides group benefit plans to well over 5,000 employers across the province, ranging from small businesses to many of the largest Alberta-based public and private sector employers with employees all across Canada.
Digital ID card transition for existing groups
As the pandemic changed the way we work, with more and more employees working remotely and in flexible work arrangements, Alberta Blue Cross® continued to enhance our online support tools and resources for our group customers and their employees. We now have over 90 per cent of our group members now enrolling online themselves and we have also transitioned many of our group customers to fully digital ID cards.
Find a dentist dental provider lookup tool
As we provide more online self-service functionality to our customers, we launched our new find a dentist tool on our member site and app. This tool allows Alberta Blue Cross® group plan members to search for dentists (general practitioners) in Alberta, view their business contact information and compare the fees they charge for certain procedure codes to the Alberta Dental Association and College provincial fee guide.
Enabling COVID-19 testing coverage under health and wellness spending accounts
Recognizing that many of our plan members needed to access private COVID-19 testing through the pandemic, COVID-19 testing was added as an eligible benefit under plans with Health Spending Accounts (HSA) or Wellness Spending Accounts (WSA).
Building a culture
Wellness is integral to the Alberta Blue Cross® brand. We are committed to promoting the health and wellness of our customers and communities through a commitment to supporting customers to “live your best life”. Through our annual Leger reputation index study, we know our customers appreciate our commitment to supporting their wellness journeys and recognize our leadership in wellness promotion.
Faces of Wellness
In July 2021, Alberta Blue Cross® launched the Faces of Wellness campaign to recognize Albertans who are everyday champions for wellness in their own lives, workplaces and communities. The grand prize winner was Steven Prudhomme of Edmonton. Steven was awarded an all expense-paid trip to Banff for his inspiring testament to perseverance through a time of extreme hardship.Learn how
Feelings Over Phones young adult campaign
As the pandemic has contributed to a rise in mental health concerns as individuals deal with feelings of isolation and loneliness, we resumed our Friends Over Phones social marketing campaign to address the impact of young adults’ cell phone use on mental health and the feelings of social connection.Learn how
Navigating chronic disease with care
Having a chronic health condition should not stand in the way of individuals being able to live their best lives. To help them maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent or manage chronic conditions, we introduced a new resource on our website to help individuals find reliable health resources and programs for chronic diseases such as mental health, diabetes and heart disease.Learn how
Change Health community program
As a program sponsor, we were pleased to see positive results from the first year of the CHANGE Health Community Program, which helps families “re-learn” healthy living. Delivered through 11 locations across the province, the program had participation from 122 families and saw not only positive outcomes related to increased nutrition and physical activity levels but an increased level of social connectedness.Learn how
Alberta Blue Cross® is deeply engaged in the communities we serve across the province—not only in fulfillment of our mandate to support the health and wellness of Albertans but as we live our social purpose to support all Albertans to live their best life. Each year we publish a Community Accountability Report as a companion document to our Annual Report to detail our community impact initiatives and outcomes.
New "Keeping Well" seniors resource booklet
Alberta Blue Cross® teamed up with the Alberta Injury Prevention Centre to create a timely new resource to support Alberta seniors as they emerge from the pandemic. The Keeping Well resource is a 32-page booklet that contains a myriad of useful information for seniors ranging from activity and exercise tips to advice on fall prevention, healthy eating, medication use, vision care, mental health and even avoiding fraud and scams.
Building healthy communities
The Built Together program provides grants of $50,000 to support healthy living infrastructure projects across Alberta, ranging from outdoor adult gyms and playgrounds to skate and bike parks, walking paths and outdoor rinks. We had a tremendous response to the Built Together program in 2021, receiving more than 100 applications from across Alberta. We awarded five very deserving projects in Calgary, Edmonton, Spruce Grove, the Elizabeth Metis Settlment and Ryley.
Extending our COVID Community Roots program
When the pandemic began, Alberta Blue Cross® pivoted our community engagement initiatives to focus on meeting the needs of vulnerable populations. One of the programs we put in place that has been very well received is the Alberta Blue Cross® COVID Community Roots Program, through which we provided support specifically to address the needs of rural and remote Alberta communities. Through this program, we awarded a total of $262,000 to 59 diverse projects in rural and remote communities across Alberta.
Fostering youth wellness
Alberta Blue Cross® is pleased to have a strong relationship with Indigenous communities across Alberta. In November 2021, we were excited to sponsor the Still I Rise Indigenous youth summit which engaged students from all over Alberta to participate in a full-day session focused on the importance of physical activity, mental health and well-being. As a champion for youth mental health, we were also pleased to sponsor the MoreGoodDays text-based mental health supports program for youth. Since its launch in April 2021, more than 800 Alberta youths signed up to receive inspirational and supportive daily messages through this program.
Sponsorships and partnerships
We participated in more than 60 community sponsorships and partnerships across the province.
Building a strong foundation for
At Alberta Blue Cross®, we recognize we must consistently focus on building upon our capabilities and efficiencies to continue serving our customers and communities. Our commitment to continual evolution positions us well for future challenges and opportunities.
Evolving our culture
This focus begins with our team members. Through 2021, we remained vigilant in protecting the health and safety of our team members through the pandemic—particularly those who continued to perform critical functions on site—while we continued to support most of our employees working safely from home.
Advancing our technology
Our Information Technology team continues to support all aspects of our business and in 2021, we further increased our vigilance around cybersecurity while implementing a new remote data centre. We also continued to make progress on enhancing our life and disability management capabilities and advanced our Enterprise Data Analytics Management program to reinforce our strength as an insights-driven organization.
In the midst of the pandemic, I sat down for a virtual call with Alberta Blue Cross®. I was expecting the usual so I hardened my heart awaiting yet another sales pitch. That pitch that never came. Alberta Blue Cross® was not interested in ‘selling’ me services. Instead, they wanted to get a better understanding of what Métis Albertans needed to achieve wellness. They listened more than they spoke and there was an authentic desire to understand and support the needs of Métis residing in Alberta.
Alberta Blue Cross® generously guided our health department as we worked together to support the mental health of Métis across the province. Indigenous scholars often speak to a concept of ‘two-eyed seeing’—a shared ethical space where the values and approaches of Indigenous peoples are prioritized while using the tools found within western approaches. This has resulted in a beautiful partnership where both worldviews walk together and lift each other up.
The Métis Nation of Alberta has a vision for health—a holistic model where Métis who reside in our beautiful province are healthy, happy and able to connect with their kin and community while celebrating their vibrant culture with pride. It gives me great pleasure to build authentic partnerships with organizations like Alberta Blue Cross®, who share values, celebrate strength and lift up the communities they walk beside.
Want to learn more?
Engaging in the communities we serve to support all Albertans in living their best lives is a fundamental aspect of how we live our commitment to our social purpose. Download the full 2022 Community Accountability report to read more.