A short history of a major icon
In 1934 a small blue Greek cross
appeared for the first time on a poster ordered by E.A. van
Steenwyk, head of the Hospital Service Association
in Minnesota, to praise the merits of his hospital care program… at 75 cents a month. Necessity became law, and soon new associations were created in many different regions, each carrying the same unifying symbol, which came to be referred to as the Blue Cross Plan.
Quebec Hospital Service Association
In the Quebec of the 1940’s, as was the case in the rest
of North America following the Great Depression, many people were
deprived of the essentials, and did not have the means to afford
medical care. There was no government structure yet in place to
guarantee care for the general public. Hospitals were nevertheless
obliged to supply services for the sick and the injured who, for
the most part, were unable to pay the cost of their hospital stay.
This lack of income put hospital care in jeopardy. Where would the
money come from?
In 1942 a group of hospital directors and business people founded the Quebec Hospital Service Association to ensure continued service to the public. The goal of the Association was to finance the hospitals by supplying workers with reasonably priced health care services through a prepayment system. It was an immense success. The Blue Cross Plan filled a need that was even more essential when times were tough.
Hospitals were soon able to pay their bills while offering more services to keep pace with both patient needs and health care advances. It was to be the beginning of a long partnership between Quebec Hospital Service Association and the hospitals which became the University Health Centres (UHC). Better known as Blue Cross, the Association laid the foundations of the hospital insurance that became government run in 1961, and to the public health insurance plan introduced in 1969 and overseen by the province.
From forerunner to partner
The creation of the provincial health care system and of the
Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec
naturally led Blue Cross to modify its coverage to complement the
public plan. Thus, Blue Cross private health insurance plans have
provided thousands of citizens with access to quality complementary
health services and ensured their financial security.
To respond to the public’s increasing desire to travel, Blue Cross launched its first travel insurance plan in 1977 to cover emergency medical expenses outside of the country. In 1989, it founded its own assistance company, CanAssistance, to help ensured travellers in emergency situations. To act rapidly and effectively, regardless of where the person is, CanAssistance establishes direct service agreements with famous international assistance networks to cover the entire world. These partnerships have stood the test of time and earned Blue Cross and CanAssistance worldwide recognition.
In the last 30 years, the Quebec Hospital Service Association, now called Canassurance Hospital Service Association, has greatly enhanced its insurance programs. Today, Blue Cross health insurance plans go far beyond complementary benefits: they are complete health programs accompanied with exclusive assistance services for daily well-being. Blue Cross travel insurance plans cover not only the health of travelling persons but also their travel investments, and protect them from other risks inherent in travelling outside of Québec.
Blue Cross, partner in health
The goal of Blue Cross insurance products is to provide security
to its members. In Canada we are fortunate to have free, universal
health care. However, due to a lack of funding for hospitals,
citizens are required to assume part of health care costs.
Essential services are still available but less accessible due to a
shortage of resources resulting in waiting lists.
By providing access to many services in private clinics, Blue Cross health insurance products contribute to freeing up the public network. By filling the gaps in a system that never had and never will have the means to cover all services, Blue Cross contributes to the continuity of a public health care system that no one wants to see disappear.