An 82-year-old woman in France was told of her own death via a letter from healthcare authority l’Assurance maladie this week, even though she is still very much alive.
Concetta Magrino (known as Cosette), 82, lives in Fressines, near Niort in Deux-Sèvres (Nouvelle-Aquitaine).
On February 14, her daughter was visiting and opened the post. Upon receiving the letter, the daughter said: “Mum, you might want to sit down…”, before telling her the rather morbid message.
The letter had been sent from la Caisse primaire d’assurance maladie (CPAM) des Deux-Sèvres.
But as Ms Magrino told Ouest-France: “Look at me. I am still very much alive. I imagine they did not do this on purpose. But it’s still a bit harsh.”
And while the letter was received with humour by the family initially, correcting the mistake was rather less comedic.
As the state has now recognised Ms Magrino as dead, she lost her health coverage, and the family was forced to get the mistake changed urgently because the octogenarian has diabetes.
She would not be able to pay for her regular, life-saving medication without state help.
The family quickly went to the CPAM in Fressines, 79, to ask for a certificat de vie ‘certificate of life’, to prove that Ms Magrino is still alive. Luckily, this was issued quickly.
(Interestingly, French residents can get their own certificat de vie to prove “their existence” to a foreign pension association on the French public services website here. The UK government says that this is sometimes still required for French residents who draw a UK pension, and vice versa).
Ms Magrino said that she feels very lucky to have a supportive family around her, and did not know how she would have coped with the unusual mistake otherwise.
It comes as another elderly French woman, Marie, aged 88, from Normandy, was shocked to discover that she had been charged a €1.58 fee at the pharmacy simply because of her age.