New Year rise in health insurance
Consumer groups warn 5% average rise in charges will turn people towards 'low-cost' providers offering worse protection
THE PRICE of top-up health insurance will rise by about 5% in the new year as insurers pass on the rising cost of healthcare to customers.
The increase - which will range from 3% to 7% depending on your insurer - comes after the government introduced a tax on mutuelles to help plug a hole in the state social security budget.
More than 90% of people in France are signed up to a mutuelle or complémentaire santé to pay for healthcare costs that are not covered by the social security regime.
Mutualité Française president Jean-Pierre Davant - who represents almost every top-up insurer in France - said in an interview with Le Parisien: "Mutuelles have no choice but to raise their prices because they are facing more and more charges."
The cost of spending a day in hospital is rising from €16 to €18 in January, and the swine flu outbreak has also prompted a rise in healthcare costs.
Consumer group UFC-Que Choisir warns that an increasing number of French people do not have the means to pay for top-up health insurance.
"These days, having a complémentaire santé is indispensable," it said. "We are concerned that more people will turn to 'low-cost' providers with fewer benefits, or worse still they will be unable to get treatment."
According to a research paper published in November, households are spending 50% more on health protection and treatment now than in 2001.
How mutuelles work and what is refunded