THE COST of seeing a GP in France could vary from €10 to €70 under new plans being considered by the French government.
President Sarkozy has told doctors he will look at making changes to the current fees system, where patients pay a fixed rate of €22 for a basic consultation, rising to €23 in the new year.
Former health minister Elisabeth Hubert has drawn up a report suggesting ways to tackle the problem of "medical deserts", where rural areas suffer a shortage of GPs as young graduates prefer to work elsewhere.
One of her suggestions is to move away from the flat-rate consultation to a tiered system, where fees would range from €10 to €70 depending on "the difficulty of reaching a diagnosis".
Doctors who agree to set up a practice in a rural area that is poorly served could also receive extra compensation.
Sarkozy told GPs at conference in Normandy yesterday that he was in favour of trying out the idea.
He said the government needed to "act fast" and the first decisions would be made this month, with changes planned in 2011.
Doctors' union MG France said the idea was "interesting" but needed further work.
Union president Pascal Dureau said the fees charged by GPs needed to be re-evaluated, because doctors were taking on an increasing range of responsibilities and often doing the same job as a specialist.
Access to doctors becoming difficult