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How your healthcare cover is set to change

The Local, Jun 13

Healthcare cover is set to undergo a raft of new changes and they are designed to leave you better off financially, although some critics believe that might not be the case. Here's what you need to know.

President Emmanuel Macron put into action one of his election campaign promises on Wednesday in Montpellier.

On Wednesday the country's Ministry of Health announced details of a plan called "100% Health" (100% Santé) which is designed to help cover the costs of healthcare in three areas: the costs of glasses, dental treatment and hearing aids.

The government says the principle is to meet the necessary health needs of the public: "to see well, to hear well and to take care for your oral hygiene - with a guarantee of quality."

This is what you need to know.

Why are the changes being brought in?

The changes are intended to make it easier for people to access certain kinds of healthcare and will mean, in theory, that patients don't have to pay anything at all for certain glasses, dental surgery and hearing aids.

When it comes to health costs, the government covers a certain percentage, top up insurance known as a "mutuelle" covers most of the rest and there is usually a small amount to be paid by the patient (called "reste à charge" in French).

But while the government says that this leftover amount is lower than in other countries, it is still putting poorer people off seeking treatment, particularly when it comes to going to the dentist for certain treatments like having a crown fitted, where the left over amount has been steadily rising over the past decade.

According to reports just 43 percent of French people visit the dentist once a year compared to 71 percent in Germany and Britain, 85 percent in Denmark and 80 percent in the Netherlands.

At the moment, the average top-up costs people have to pay to cover the "reste à charge" payment €95 for glasses, €135 for dentures and €780 for a hearing aid.

The government wants to wipe out these top up costs in the three areas. The bill for easing the cost for the public will be shared out between the state through the Secu (social security) and complimentary health insurance known as "mutuelles".

The cost of the changes to the government will be anything between €1 billion and €4 billion, depending on who you listen to.

When will they be brought in?

The changes are going to be rolled out steadily over the next 2-3 years (see below for details).

What exactly is changing?

Glasses

From 2020, the price of glasses will be fully covered for "quality lenses" and for frames costing up to €30.

Opticians will stock 17 adult frames and seven children's models, all available in multiple colors and wearers will be able to renew them every two years and once a year for under-15s.

On the other hand, customers who want branded frames or a special treatment on the lenses may have to cover part of the cost themselves, depending on the benefits of their top-up health insurance known as a “mutuelle”.

Hearing aids

Anyone suffering from hearing problems will be reimbursed 100 percent of the price of hearing aids costing up to €950 per ear from 2021.

The offer will include in-ear devices and behind the ear hearing aids with an amplification of at least 30 decibels, as well as noise eradicators, anti-feedback effects and at least 12 tuning channels.

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