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2023 Annual Report highlights


Who we are

Alberta Blue Cross® is the largest provider of health benefits in Alberta, and we’re proud to build on a 75-year legacy that reaches more than 1.8 million customers. Since our doors opened in 1948, we’ve championed our communities by supporting the health and wellness of Albertans. As we continue to grow, we continue to impact people’s lives for the better.

Download the Annual Report PDF

To continue to earn the trust of our customers and consumers, we must continue to evolve—and 2023 was a year of significant evolution for Alberta Blue Cross®.

Corporate address

As Alberta Blue Cross® commemorated our 75th anniversary in 2023, we reflected on the rich legacy that our organization has established through generations of serving our customers.

When Alberta Blue Cross® formed in 1948, we began with a unique mandate to support the health needs of Albertans. Our organization has evolved substantially since that time, yet our vision has remained constant. Our reason for being—to promote the health and wellness of our customers and our communities—has endured, and this promise remains integral to the Alberta Blue Cross® brand.

Fundamental to the enduring success of Alberta Blue Cross® is the high level of trust that our customers continue to place in our organization to support their wellbeing. In an era where consumers increasingly mistrust corporations and institutions, we work to earn this trust every day, and we do not take it for granted. Above all, we are accountable to those we exist to serve.

While a 75-year anniversary is a milestone worthy of celebration, we recognize that past success does not guarantee future success. The health ecosystem is evolving rapidly, competition in the benefits industry is fierce, the needs of our customers continue to change, and we are not content to rest on our laurels. To continue to earn the trust of our customers and consumers, we must continue to evolve—and 2023 was a year of significant evolution for Alberta Blue Cross®.

While the majority of our business today is based on the provision of benefit plans and programs, the world of benefits is changing. Whether through client-directed home care for government program participants, creative new plans for young adults or innovative inclusive benefit options for employer groups, through 2023 we remained committed to not only addressing evolving customer needs but staying ahead of the curve. At the same time, our products and services are increasingly being backed by leading technology and advanced data analytics.

As we keep an eye on tomorrow, our role is evolving to assume greater responsibility for promoting the holistic wellbeing of our customers and communities and being an active partner in our health ecosystem. Advancing wellness is core to our vision, and while we enhanced our wellness offerings in 2023, we are also planning for a future where wellness is fully integrated into everything we do as an organization.

Underpinning our commitment to our valued customers is a constant focus on protecting and safeguarding the privacy and integrity of our customer information. Cybersecurity is a pervasive focus at Alberta Blue Cross® and has become an integral part of our corporate culture.

Another constant for Alberta Blue Cross® is our commitment to delivering on our promise of customer experience. As we continued to enhance our customer experience through 2023, we have made more investments in our digital and online services. But we still balance this focus with exceptional personalized service where needed.

A highlight of 2023 for Alberta Blue Cross® was a special initiative we undertook to celebrate our 75th anniversary—building on a rich legacy of giving back to the communities we serve. Through this program, Alberta Blue Cross® recognized 75 outstanding volunteers across the province who contribute to the wellbeing of their communities as well as each of the 75 organizations with which they volunteer. Our track record of promoting the wellness of our communities underscores the high level of trust Albertans place in Alberta Blue Cross®.

As we look forward to the next 75 years, our promise is to build on the rich legacy of trust we have established with our customers and communities as we continue to advance their wellbeing.

Mark Komlenic

President and chief executive officer

Proud member of the Alberta Blue Cross® team

Marcia Nelson

Chair, Board of Directors

ABC Benefits Corporation

A legacy of supporting our health care system

Alberta Blue Cross® was born in 1948 when the Hospital Associations created the Alberta Blue Cross® plan accordingly to enable legislation passed by the Government of Alberta. Our working relationship with the Government of Alberta has only grown stronger in the 75 years since. From administering government-sponsored benefit programs to helping develop and implement innovative new government health initiatives, we continued to support each other and grow together throughout 2023.

Supporting victims of crime

In 2023, we worked alongside the Government of Alberta on the Victims of Crime Assistance Program so that those seeking assistance can receive the specific medication, care and services they require. Individuals covered through this program can now use our extensive provider network to find health care providers in their area, submit claims for direct billing and use an Alberta Blue Cross® ID card that protects their privacy.

Expanding home care, empowering home care clients

Alberta Blue Cross® partnered with Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services in 2022 to introduce the Client Directed Home Care program. Under this program, home care clients in the Edmonton and Calgary regions can now choose their own home care agency to provide support services based on their unique needs. This allows Albertans with disabilities and chronic conditions to stay in their homes longer, granting them more independence and autonomy.

A legacy of connecting with customers

We’ve been a customer-first organization since the beginning. From answering an inquiry by mail in 1948 to responding to an Instagram comment in 2023, we strive to make every customer feel understood and heard no matter how they connect with us. Over the past year, we continued to focus on customer care and found new ways to show our plan members how much we value them.

Helping those displaced by wildfires

The summer of 2023 saw hundreds of wildfires spread across Western Canada, forcing thousands of residents out of their homes. We made sure that our plan members displaced by the wildfires continued to have their claims paid in a timely fashion by updating our systems with members’ temporary addresses and reissuing cheques. We also worked with our business and government partners to continue administering plans and programs, and our employees donated nearly $10,000 to support Canadian Red Cross wildfire relief efforts—which was matched by our community foundation.

Improving the medical underwriting process

In 2023, we moved medical underwriting from a manual paper process to a streamlined online experience, ensuring our plan members get the coverage they need faster. This change ensures shorter turnaround times, fewer manual steps and decreased chances for mistakes. Plan members can engage with our medical underwriting team more conveniently and disclose personal information more securely.

Making travel easier

In 2023, we enhanced our Visitors to Canada plan by making it purchasable through our website. Previously, the Visitors to Canada plan could only be purchased by speaking with one of our travel specialists over the phone. Now, travellers can get the plan directly through our website, meaning fewer barriers and a better experience for our customers.

Delivering excellent customer service

We responded to more than 520,000 customer inquiries in 2023, and we exceeded our targets by resolving 84 per cent of these on the first call. The number of interpreter requests doubled from 220 inquiries in 2022 to 443 inquiries in 2023, with the top 3 languages being Punjabi, Mandarin and Spanish.

A legacy of delivering personalized plans

Personal health plans are built into the foundations of Alberta Blue Cross®. They were one of the first plans we offered our members in 1948, and they’re the first stop many of our members make with us today. We strive to meet our personal health plan customers’ evolving needs by providing new, flexible and innovative options.

Levelling up our personal health plans

At the start of 2023, we offered our Blue Choice® plan members a new level in their health benefit plans. Blue Choice® level D is a medically underwritten plan that includes enhanced coverage for prescription drugs that were previously excluded from other plans. Level D also comes with enhanced health benefits, including a higher per visit and per year psychology benefit, increased dental coverage and additional coverage for other extended benefits.

Introducing the Young Adult plan

Transitioning from childhood to adulthood can feel daunting. That’s why in 2023, we launched the Young Adult plan, the first of its kind to be offered by any carrier in the benefits industry. The Young Adult plan is designed specifically for plan members between the ages of 18 and 29. It’s an affordable plan with flexible options, including dental coverage, drug coverage, a high level of mental health support and increased paramedical coverage (such as chiropractic care, acupuncture and physiotherapy).

Making retirement better

In 2023, we enhanced our Retiree plan by making it more accessible and easier to apply for. Previously, plan members only had 60 days after leaving their other coverage to apply for the Retiree plan. Transitioning to a new plan is stressful enough, so we extended that window to 90 days. Some of our other improvements include an eligibility age of 50 years and up, level D added to all personal plans, travel coverage for life and flight delay service added to all levels of the Retiree plan.

Preparing for the worst by offering the best

We introduced personal life insurance options for the first time in 2023. Now, our customers have peace of mind knowing they’re covered by the most respected life insurance company in Canada, Blue Cross Life®. Plan members can choose to have coverage for a set period of time with term life insurance plans, or they can choose to have coverage that never expires with whole life insurance. We also have personal life consultants to tailor a plan to our members’ needs.

A legacy of working with Alberta workplaces

Alberta Blue Cross® was created 1 year after the discovery of oil at Leduc No. 1, offering medical care to thousands of new workers and their families. Today, we provide group benefit plans to almost 5,700 employers of all sizes, from small start-ups to national powerhouses. After 75 years together, we’re honoured to be a trusted partner in the Alberta workplace.

Creating more inclusive health care

When people can’t live their authentic lives, they suffer worse mental health, poorer physical health and lower self-esteem. We believe that every person has the right to live life on their terms. To that end, we’re proud to introduce the first of our new diversity, equity and inclusion benefits: gender-affirming care and fertility and family planning. Several large accounts have already implemented these new benefits.

Digitizing dependent declarations

In 2023, we continued our journey of going paperless and providing our group members a seamless digital experience. We recently took the next step by moving our dependent declaration process online. Plan members with overage child dependents (dependents typically between the ages of 21 and 26) now get regular emails and reminders that link to our member website, where they can confirm or update their dependent’s information online.

Helping those injured at work

Workplace injuries take a huge physical, emotional and financial toll. We’re helping ease that burden through a new pilot project with the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta (WCB-Alberta), which allows direct billing of prescription drugs for select WCB-Alberta injury claims. This pilot project helps injured workers by using Alberta Blue Cross®’s technology and best practices in health benefits administration.

Offering best-in-class benefits

In 2023, the Canadian Group Benefits study moved us from our previous sixth-place rating to second place in Alberta for their business capability index. Our rating increased thanks to strong partnerships and excellent service, with feedback highlighting our ease of collaboration and flexibility. We’ve shown continuous improvement in technology capabilities, especially for our plan members, and we excelled in fraud management while offering competitive target loss ratios and pooling charges.

A legacy of promoting wellness for all

When Alberta Blue Cross® formed in 1948, our unique mandate was to support the health of Albertans. Although our company has changed since then, our vision hasn’t. We’re still committed to the health and wellness of all Albertans through a variety of initiatives, and that promise remains integral to the Alberta Blue Cross® brand.

Introducing the Ask the Expert feature

Balance® is our online wellness platform and has been a part of our personal, group and government plans for the past 8 years. In 2023, we introduced a new feature called Ask the Expert, which offers a series of informative videos from Canadian wellness leaders. These videos explore the topics of nutrition, physical health, mental health and financial health, and members can earn Balance® reward points for each video they watch and rate.

Presenting our first wellness screening pilot

We partnered with the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta (WCB-Alberta) at the end of 2023 to hold our pilot wellness screening event, where a nurse performs simple medical tests at a workplace to measure an individual’s overall wellbeing. Since completing this successful wellness screening pilot, we’ve rolled this program out to other group clients, who can easily book an event through their group sales representative.

A legacy of building up communities

For the past 75 years, we’ve walked alongside Albertans to create healthy and accessible communities where everyone can live, work, learn and play. Our annual Community Accountability Report is published as a companion document to our Annual Report to detail our community impact initiatives and outcomes. Here are some of the highlights, but you can find the full details in the 2023 Community Accountability Report.

Finding our next Faces of Wellness

Our third annual Faces of Wellness program continued to recognize Albertans who are everyday champions for wellness in their own lives, workplaces and communities. The grand prize recipient was Ufuoma Muwhen of Edmonton. Ufuoma created NotJustYou, a nonprofit sickle cell support organization that provides a platform for individuals to connect, share experiences and access support. She’s also a strong advocate for Black health and enhancing health care for marginalized communities.

Promoting vibrant communities

Our Built Together program provides annual 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. In 2023, we received more than 100 applications from across Alberta and awarded 5 very deserving projects in Calgary, Edmonton, Peace River, Lac La Biche and Alexander First Nation. 2023 also marked the start of our Community Wellbeing grant program, which celebrated our 75th anniversary by providing 75 awards of $1,000 each to volunteers across the province, along with matching donations to the organizations they volunteer with.

Empowering Métis and Indigenous communities

Alberta Blue Cross® is committed to authenticity in our relationships, positively impacting the communities we serve and to working together to advance wellness. In 2023, we awarded our annual Indigenous scholarship to 9 deserving individuals. This $1,500 award is based on scholastic achievement, financial need and community involvement. Of the 9 winners, 3 were students completing their high school education and entering their first year of post-secondary study, and 6 were mature students entering their first year of post-secondary education.

A legacy of growing our people

We wouldn’t be where we are today without our people. 75 years ago the first team members at Alberta Blue Cross® used a single typewriter to administer more than 50,000 plans, and our team members today work just as hard to take care of our plan members. In turn, we take care of them by listening to their needs and helping them reach their goals.

Finding better ways of working

In 2023, we achieved an employee engagement rating of 85.7 per cent based on results from our yearly engagement survey. Not only is this higher than last year’s score, but it’s higher than the North American average of 65 per cent. We also have an 85.2 inclusion score, putting us 4.9 points above the industry average and helping us reach our diversity, equity and inclusion goals. We’ve also spent the last year implementing several changes that address employee interests and modernize our workplace.

Building in-person connections

Throughout 2023, the majority of our workforce stayed in flexible hybrid or work-from-home positions. However, we still created opportunities to network and meet in person through several important events, including our Wellness Block Party, our twice-yearly leadership forum and our annual all-team assembly, where we introduced our new corporate purpose. This new purpose and our empowered team pushes us forward as an organization that resonates purpose, emotion and progress. 

Interested in reading more?

Alberta Blue Cross® exists to promote the health and wellness of our customers and communities. The past 75 years have been a testament to this, and we're committed to continuing this work while maintaining an exceptionally strong brand and reputation. As we move forward, the wellbeing of our customers and communities remains our top priority.

Download the Annual Report PDF