It may soon cost €30 for each GP visit in France as health authorities consider increasing the fee from €26.50 following negotiations with GP unions.
The Assurance maladie and unions met on February 8, and discussed an increase in revenue “adapted to each speciality”. This suggestion has already been the subject of discussion for several months.
However, the Assurance maladie also said in a press release that "these changes in tariffs will only be implemented if they are accompanied by other changes to improve the health of the population".
Negotiations began last autumn and meetings are set to continue for several weeks as an agreement has still not been reached. A major new negotiation meeting is expected in the “first two weeks of March”, the Assurance maladie said.
‘Massive investment in self-employed medicine’
The authority has not yet said how it will improve self-employed doctors’ salaries, and has not yet released a timetable for any suggested increase in GP fees, or other changes. However, it has promised “massive investment in self-employed medicine”. In France, independent GPs with their own surgeries or practices (not attached to hospitals) are considered to be self-employed.
The increase of fees from €26.50 to €30 has been suggested as an ‘olive branch’ to GPs from a negotiation mediator, after months of stalled discussions.
The fee increased from €25 to €26.50 in October 2023, with specialist fees rising to €31.50.
But unions have said that increasing them further is a ‘second-best’ solution, and would have a limited impact on other issues, including the effect of inflation on their finances, increasingly difficult working conditions, and a lack of personnel (especially in areas considered to be ‘medical deserts’).
Faced with this continued opposition, the government has announced new initiatives in recent months, including a suggested pay rise for new and younger doctors, to encourage them to open new GP surgeries in towns and cities that need them most.
Yet, the executive has still said that it wants GPs to commit to treating more patients on a long-term basis, rather than having one-off consultations with occasional patients. To this end, last year it said it could increase the flat rate for doctors who commit to treating a large number of long-term patients.
Unions have cautiously welcomed the suggestion that the fee could rise to €30, as many have been calling for such a change for months - but many were disappointed that no ‘roadmap’ towards the change has been agreed.
“The €30 was obviously a prerequisite for us,” said Agnès Giannotti, head of the leading GP union MG France. However, she said it was unfortunate that “we don't have a timetable” on when the new fee could be implemented.
MG France believes that long or more specialised consultations should cost €60, she added.
Patrick Gasser of the Avenir Spé-Le Bloc union, said: “It's tragic, there is no or at best a very small budget for specialist medicine. [It’s not enough for us] sign today.”
Franck Devulder of the CSMF union said that the €30 consultation fee is a “significant step forward”, but he also claimed that “specialised medicine is very, very much forgotten, with the exception of paediatrics and psychiatry.”
It comes after Prime Minister Gabriel Attal confirmed earlier this month that the government wants to charge people who fail to turn up for their booked GP appointments.