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2021 in Review

A year highlighted by product launches, service enhancements and awards

Posted by Shane Reid on January 19, 2022

Editor’s Note: The following is part one of our annual year in review and forecast for the year ahead. Here we provide a summary of the major initiatives we carried out in 2021. In part two, we will identify the trends to keep a watchful eye on in 2022 with a hint at the forward-looking solutions we have in development.

Before we turned the calendar to 2022, we paused to reflect on the past year at Medavie Blue Cross — and oh, what a year it was!

We researched, innovated and collaborated to ensure the 1 in 12 Canadians we serve as an all-in-one carrier and public health program administrator stayed healthy, safe and resilient.

Partnerships and Expanded Offerings

Through strategic partnerships and investments, we added more virtual care options to our offering to provide plan members with timely access to quality care. We increased mental health supports to help members manage stress and anxiety brought on by COVID-19 and we introduced solutions to give members greater choice and control over how they use their health benefits.

We partnered with Medical Confidence (part of CloudMD) to provide select members with the opportunity to access MedExcellence, a personalized healthcare navigation service that connects users to a network of over 27,000 specialists, helping reduce wait times to receive professional care. As of 2020, the average wait time for Canadians from referral to treatment by a specialist was 22.6 weeks, which has only increased since due to the pandemic and associated pressures on our health care system.

“We are delighted to offer this opportunity to connect those on disability with a specialist sooner. We believe this will help many of our plan members in seeing the best possible health outcomes and potentially seeing a quicker recovery from their disability.” Rebecca Smith, Director, Group Life and Disability Services at Medavie Blue Cross.

As a customer-centric, digital-first enterprise, we continued to expand our digital health platform, Connected Care.

Recognizing the toll COVID-19-related restrictions are taking on the mental health of Canadians, we added Petit BamBou, one of the world’s most popular mindfulness mobile apps, to our suite of services.

“By adding Petit BamBou to our Connected Care digital health platform, it allows our members to gain access to a timely solution that enables self-care, builds resilience and promotes ongoing mental health support.” Colleen Adams, Manager, Health and Digital Product Solutions at Medavie Blue Cross.

We also added a unique Diabetes Care Program to the platform to empower members living with diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol to take charge of their condition. This exclusive digital health solution features real-time, all-in-one access to health coaching, home delivery of testing supplies and glucose monitoring.

“Our Diabetes Care Program is designed to improve the wellbeing of those living with, or at risk for, diabetes from the comfort of home. It’s part of our broader approach to enabling better, more convenient access to education and care to help those managing chronic disease, all while balancing plan costs and sustainability.” Marc Avaria, Vice President, Product and Disability Management at Medavie Blue Cross.

We introduced Benefits for Small Business, a plan uniquely designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners, giving their employees “big company” health benefits many once felt were out of reach. Available to companies with up to 10 lives in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, this solution provides coverage for extended health care including vision care, prescription drugs, dental, disability, as well as life and travel insurance. As part of the plan design, claims are pooled together with other small businesses to lower the financial impact of high claims activity and ensures the plans remain cost-effective over time.

“We’re excited to offer Benefits for Small Business as a flexible, cost-effective way for small business owners to give their employees access to a comprehensive benefit plan that supports their health and wellness needs, both during the pandemic and beyond.” Alaina MacKenzie, Regional Vice President, Business Development at Medavie Blue Cross.

To support Canada’s increasingly diverse workforce and offer inclusive benefits, we introduced a Gender Affirmation Benefit. This benefit increases access and provides financial support to gender diverse members throughout their transitioning process. It’s among several important steps we have taken toward becoming a more inclusive organization. We also updated our business forms and letters to use more inclusive language.

“The Gender Affirmation Benefit and the modernizing of our language are great examples of this, as we ultimately want to ensure all Canadians feel like they are represented in the benefit plans and services we offer.” Marc Avaria, Vice President, Product and Disability Management at Medavie Blue Cross.

We continue to expand Optional Benefits, a fully digital solution for employers to offer enhanced life and health coverage. This includes opening the door for members to Online Doctors, a benefit that provides members with year-round virtual health care access to Canadian-licensed physicians. Optional coverage also includes critical illness, accidental death and dismemberment, and life insurance. Members can add these protections in minutes through a simple and secure process on our online platform.

Member Experience

Improving the member experience is a top priority for Medavie Blue Cross. In 2021 we focused on further upgrades to our mobile app — one of the highest rated apps among insurance companies — as well as a series of enhancements to the user experience and functionality of our Group Administrator Portal. This was complemented by the introduction our new Digital Welcome Package, which enables members to start using their benefits immediately from our app or Member Services site.


Toward the end of 2021, we were honoured for our efforts with several prestigious national awards.

Proudly, we were the recipient of the Advocis Life and Health Insurer of the Year in the sixth annual Insurance Business Canada Awards. The award is presented to the outstanding life and health insurance company in Canada providing top-tier life and health insurance products to consumers and businesses with an exemplary level of client service.

“This is a huge honour for our organization and a great tribute to the hard work and dedication of our team to client service excellence and product innovation.” David Adams, Vice-President Business Development at Medavie Blue Cross.

We were equally proud to be included in the list of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. The national competition celebrates employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional workplaces to their employees.

“This honour is a testament to our employees’ dedication and relentless pursuit of our collective mission to improve the wellbeing of Canadians.” Bernard Lord, CEO of Medavie.

Medavie Blue Cross was also re-certified as an Imagine Canada Caring Company and is permanently in the Hall of Fame of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures for excellence in culture and performance.

These accolades capped off what has been a challenging but rewarding year, knowing that we are striving to be the best health insurer and benefit manager possible for our plan sponsors and members, and being recognized for that.

Looking to 2022, we will persevere as the pandemic persists, employing the same flexibility and adaptability that not only has helped us weather this storm over the past two years but has made us stronger.

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