Most Canadians agree, we need to control health-care costs by shifting the focus from treatment to prevention. That’s why Alberta Blue Cross has created a wellness movement to help Albertans improve their health.

“Our approach has expanded to focus on wellness,” says Ray Pisani, president and chief executive officer of Alberta Blue Cross, the province’s largest health benefit provider. “To us, that means helping Albertans get healthy and stay healthy through every age and stage of life.”

To support this idea, Alberta Blue Cross introduced Balance two years ago. The online program is available to Alberta Blue Cross plan members and uses health assessment data to encourage positive behaviour changes. Balance offers tools, trackers and interactive tutorials, plus wellness-inspired rewards such as gift cards and fitness equipment.

Denise Bacso is a busy mother of three who started using Balance last year. “Completing the Balance health assessment definitely made me more aware of what I’m doing right and where I can improve my health—and my family’s health, too,” she says.

Many Balance users have reported better health. The following are just some of the ways the program  has made a difference for Albertans.

  • More than six per cent increase in the number of participants who get enough exercise.
  • More than two per cent increase in the number of participants who maintain a healthy body weight.
  • A 19 per cent decrease in stress levels.
  • An 18 per cent increase in the number of participants who eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
  • And a more than five per cent increase in the number of participants who report getting enough sleep.

Alberta Blue Cross is looking to expand the Balance program, potentially for all Albertans. It has also increased its wellness promotion across the province through initiatives such as its Healthy Communities Grant Program. In the past six years, the program has given more than $1 million to support active living in Alberta including bike and skateboard parks, outdoor gyms, sports courts and playgrounds.