ASEBP’s roots are in the education sector.
In the early 1960s, the Alberta School Trustees Association (now the Alberta School Boards Association) was exploring the feasibility of group insurance on behalf of a number of school boards. This led to the consideration of creating a province-wide group insurance program.
At about the same time, a revision to the School Act opened the door for school boards to provide group life, sickness and accident insurance for their employees. In parallel but separate discussions, the Alberta Teachers' Association was also considering developing a group insurance program for teachers.
By the late ‘60s, discussion was occurring between the two associations. In 1968, they agreed to jointly sponsor the group insurance program that had been developed by the Alberta School Trustees Association. And so the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan was born.
In its early years, ASEBP provided an avenue for its member boards to pool their resources to purchase group Life Insurance, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, and disability insurance at a reasonable cost.
In 1976, Extended Health Care coverage was added to the menu of benefits school jurisdictions could choose from. It was meant to fill gaps in coverage available under universal health care, the most critical being for prescription medicines. Dental Care was added in 1976 and Vision Care followed in another few years. So long as education staff were receiving excellent, easily accessible benefits, everyone was happy.
During ASEBP’s first 25 years, benefits administration was transactional-based. For the initial 15 years, ASEBP simply processed and paid benefit claims by liaising with the insurance companies, employers, and covered members. By 1984, there were 148 participating employers, 34,000 covered members, and $23 million in annual premiums. The size of the plan meant that ASEBP could take on the risk of being financially responsible for claims using the premiums and investment income that would otherwise have been passed along to insurance companies. Self-funding became effective February 1, 1984, for the three general health plans (Extended Health Care, Dental Care, and Vision Care). The disability plan followed in 1985.
Self-funding meant a significant structural change was required. The Deed of Trust, signed by the parent bodies, formalized ASEBP as a health and welfare trust. The Deed clearly defined the powers and duties of the ASEBP Trustees in providing benefits to beneficiaries of the Trust (covered members).
Becoming a health and welfare trust was advantageous in two ways:
By the mid-90s, ASEBP transitioned into a new role in benefit administration. Extended Disability Benefits claims were managed, meaning that ASEBP took an active role in supporting an individual’s healthy return to work by collaborating with the individual, the employer and employee representative, and the appropriate health care providers.
To take on this responsibility, the Coordinated Claims Management department (now known as Health & Disability Management Services) was approved for full implementation on January 1, 1995. This required hiring six Claims Facilitators and a manager.
Features like dispensing fee maximums and the introduction of least cost alternative pricing were introduced as management features for prescription medicines.
During this time, the Deed of Trust was revised, placing the ASEBP Trustees at arm’s length from the two parent bodies. The revised Deed of Trust was signed by the parent bodies and the 10 ASEBP Trustees.
Regionalization of school boards caused a reduction in the number of participating employers; 67 school boards remained in the province and 62 participated in ASEBP plans. The number of plan participants was approximately 37,000.
By the late 90s, ASEBP was again making another major shift. New services and programs were created that focus on health and the prevention of illness. ASEBP Trustees approved the Organizational Health Initiative for a two-year period that began on September 1, 1997. Its purpose was to learn more about factors that contribute to and take away from the health of people and their workplaces, and to increase understanding of how to develop and sustain healthy work environments.
By 2007, ASEBP increased its activities around being a health organization. The Apple-A-Day website was launched, featuring health information from the Mayo Clinic, along with interactive tools and ideas for better health.
The For Your Health service was also launched. It is a confidential service connecting covered members with a registered nurse who can guide them to information, services, and programs to help them make more informed health decisions.
A healthy living initiative was also successfully launched in a school jurisdiction.
Over the past 15 years, ASEBP has developed a deeper understanding about the determinants of group and workplace health. One of ASEBP’s operating principles is to share this knowledge more broadly with covered members and their employers (school jurisdictions and employee representatives). As a learning sector organization, ASEBP strives for opportunities to communicate learning sector collective wisdom and best practices regarding the benefit and health services it provides. ASEBP believes that health is a shared responsibility – that health is a partnership of the individual, the workplace, and the community.
Today, ASEBP serves over 55,000 covered members in 58 school jurisdictions across Alberta. The focus is on prevention, and the commitment is to creating resources designed to foster healthy lifestyles and healthy workplaces. ASEBP strives to support individuals in their efforts to make the educational experiences of Alberta’s students the best they can be.