One pair of free glasses every two years for everyone

First deals have just been signed, says President Macron

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Free glasses, dental prostheses and hearing aids will be available to almost everyone in France in a big change of social policy.

President Macron said the first deals had just been signed and there would be full implementation by 2021.

With millions rejecting optical, auditory and dental care due to costs, he told insurance companies his entry-level options would be free for all, regardless of income, as long as they had a mutuelle.

He called it a “social investment” to help those unable to afford easily-available remedies.

Low reimbursements – for example, just €75.25 on the usual €500 crown – left too many people with too much left to pay (reste à charge), meaning 4.7million gave up on dental prosthetics and 2.1m on hearing aids.

“This means the possibility of smiling, seeing, hearing, sometimes eating normally; our fellow citizens due to costs are deprived of these prostheses.”

Health Minister Agnès Buzyn has signed two industry agreements on optical and auditory aids with a third on dental care to be signed at the end of June.

The new plan, ‘Reste à charge 0%’, splits basic costs between the state reimbursement system and mutuelles for the 95% of people with such cover. Any special options are paid for but the bill will be lower than the €4.4billion people pay today.

Opticians, dentists and audiologists will get higher health service payments for preventive services and in return will cut basic prosthetic tariffs, while retaining a full cost service.

Opticians will offer 17 models of frames for under €30 plus anti-scratch lenses. New glasses will be available every two years. The average €850 reste à charge for hearing aids (after mutuelle payment) will be cut by €200 in 2019, then €250 to reach zero by 2021. All types of aids will be covered.

In dental care, crowns and bridges will be tackled first, in 2020, with entry-level options having ceramic crowns for front teeth and metal at the back.