An 88-year-old woman in France has told how she was shocked to discover that she was charged extra at the pharmacy solely because of her age.
Marie, who lives in Avranches, Normandy (Manche), told Actu.fr that a friend of hers had noticed an extra line at the bottom of her itemised pharmacy receipt, which read that she had been charged a €1.58 ‘fee due to the age of the patient’ (‘honoraire lié a l’âge du patient’ in French).
Marie, who is still healthy and full of energy for a woman her age, said: “It’s a form of discrimination. It’s so odd.”
The health authority l’Assurance maladie has said that this charge has been in place since 2019. It said: “It is not a tax, but a fee paid to the pharmacist for the advice and support they provide when dispensing medicines.”
It added that the fee is charged to all patients aged over 70, and for medicines dispensed to all patients under the age of three.
But Françoise, one of Marie’s friends, said that the amount was excessive. She said: “A little sum like this every month can quickly add up to €20 over the year.”
In reality, the amount is usually mainly paid for by l’Assurance maladie, which cover 65% of the cost for people over 70, and 100% of the cost for people with a long-term condition.
Marie added that “it is not just about the money”.
She said: “It’s mentally hurtful, and the injustice eats away at me a bit. It suggests that I’m ‘a little old lady who can’t manage’. It makes you feel inferior.”
She said that it was a symptom of France treating elderly people like children. She said: “When you get older, we treat people here as if they’re going back to childhood.”
She said she didn’t see why the pharmacy needed to charge an extra fee for her, because the waiting time for her medicines was the same as anyone else.
“The time is the same,” she said. “I don’t see the difference between me waiting or anyone else.”
It comes as the treatment of elderly people in France has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, as Covid and low salaries have adversely affected the age group, and an inquiry into alleged mistreatment within the care home group Orpéa opened after allegations detailed in a new book entitled Les Fossoyeurs (‘The Gravediggers’).
Orpéa has denied the claims.