Saturday, January 4, 2014

Long term illness in France

If you have moved to France permanently, possibly to retire, one of your concerns may be what happens if you suffer a long term illness and what would be the conséquences of needing long term health care.

As a British retiree you should normally be entitled to a French health card, known as a Carte Vitale, which shows that you are registered with the French state health service and have been assigned a personal ID number. Once you have found and registered with a local doctor, you take the card when visiting the doctor and when purchasing prescriptions drugs or other treatments (X-ray, scan etc) prescribed by your doctor. Normally treatments and mediciens are reimbursed at the rate of 70% by the French state and you are responsible for paying the balance of 30%.

To pay for the balance you may decide to take out a top-up insurance policy, known as a 'mutuelle', for which you will pay a monthly premium. This may turn out to be expensive, and for this reason if no other, you need to know that certain long term illnesses are covered 100% by the French health system (as opposed to just 70%).

There is a published list of what are known as long term conditions ('affections long durée' or ALD) which are entitled to 100% cover , including heart conditions, liver, kidney and lung diseases - the list numbers some 30 conditions in total and is quite specific.

If you are concerned or in any doubt, you should consult your French doctor or specialist for advice, and it is he who will make an application for your illness to be classified as an 'ALD'. Each case is decided individually, the decision may be reversed or altered, and you have the right of appeal if you disagree.

For peace of mind, consult your French doctor as soon as possible. The French health service is generally efficient, fast acting and comprehensive - and you are entitled to benefit from it.