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.
Ontario Hospital Service Association
The hard times of the 1930’s created the momentum behind
the establishment of Blue Cross® in Ontario. During those
difficult years, hospitals received fewer donations and had fewer
‘private ward’ or ‘paying patients’. There
was no government structure in place to guarantee care for the
general public. Hospitals were nevertheless obliged to supply
services for the sick and the injured, who were often unable to pay
the cost of their hospital stay. This lack of income put hospital
care in jeopardy.
In 1941, the Ontario Hospital Service Association introduced the Blue Cross name in Ontario. The goal was to finance the hospitals by supplying individuals 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.
The OHA was eager to see a universal hospital insurance program in place and laid the foundations for the plan that eventually became government run. In 1959, the Government of Ontario launched the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan. 600 Blue Cross employees as well as most of its top management team moved over to help guide in the plans development. Literally overnight, 90% of Blue Cross employees became government employees as they helped launch the new plan.
From forerunner to partner
The creation of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) led
Blue Cross to modify its coverage to complement the public plan.
Following the successful transition from primary to supplementary
provider, Ontario Blue Cross developed other health care plans to
provide coverage for Extended Health Care benefits including
prescription drugs, dental, wheelchair coverage, nursing care,
eyeglasses, hearing aid coverage and more.
In response to the public’s increasing desire to travel, Blue Cross launched its first travel insurance plan in 1979 to cover emergency medical expenses while outside of the country. In 1981, Blue Cross founded its own assistance company, CanAssistance, to help assist travelers in emergency situations. CanAssistance established direct service agreements with international assistance networks to enable them to assist clients quickly, regardless of where they were in the world. These partnerships have stood the test of time and earned Blue Cross recognition worldwide.
In the last 30 years, we have significantly enhanced our insurance programs. Today, Blue Cross health insurance programs go far beyond complementary benefits: they are complete health protection accompanied with exclusive assistance services for daily well-being. Blue Cross travel insurance plans not only cover the health of travelers but also their travel investments, and protects them from other risks inherent in travelling outside of Ontario.
Your partner in health
Ontario Blue Cross is one of the leading providers of Health and Travel Insurance benefits in Ontario. We employ over 400 individuals in offices in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Our core philosophy has come full circle. Our focus is to protect the health and well-being of our members by providing accessible benefits and services at a price Ontario residents can afford.
In 2004, the inception of the Blue Cross Assistance program
provided all of our subscribers with unlimited access to health
consultants and support services, information and prevention
services and exclusive member discounts.
Today, we maintain our vision and look ahead to serving Ontario residents for years to come.