A new way of paying for visits to hospital A&E departments is to launch in September 2021.
All patients will have to pay a fixed sum of €18, whatever the nature of their visit.
This will replace the present procedure, known as the ticket modérateur system, where patients hand over their carte vitale when they arrive, social security pays 80% of the cost and the patient pays the remaining 20%, usually covered by a top-up health insurance scheme.
Without a mutuelle, the sum can be high if a number of tests are involved, but lower than €18 if the visit only requires a consultation. It is estimated that the average sum patients have to pay at present is €19.
The government proposed the change in its social security finance bill.
Health Minister Olivier Véran said in Parliament: “The aim is not to save money but to free up hospital personnel to do something other than writing out bills.” Critics say the new scheme could prove a barrier to healthcare for less well-off people.
Dr Christophe Prudhomme, spokesman for the association of A&E doctors, told Le Figaro newspaper it could be a punitive system for some, especially as people often have no option but to go to A&E because there are not enough GPs to get an appointment and waiting times to see many specialists are too long.
Thomas Mesnier, La République en Marche MP, promised the payment would be covered by private health insurance companies, by the complémentaire santé solidaire for people on low income, and the aide médicale de l’Etat, which pays for care for overseas visitors without papers.
Pregnant women will not have to pay from the sixth month and there will be no charge for newborn babies for 30 days. Patients with long term illnesses will pay a reduced rate.