Social security office in France

The third-party payment system becomes widespread

It is "a major step forward for the French, and it should be simple to implement and safe for doctors by 2017", Marisol Touraine, Minister of Social Affairs, Health and Women's Rights, stated on 2 March 2015.
The third-party payment system is a significant milestone for the Government's commitment to universal access to healthcare. Marisol Touraine has initiated in-depth discussions on this subject, and working groups are under way on certain aspects of the Health bill: many contributions have resulted from this consultation and from proposals submitted by doctors. The Government will include these in the bill as amendments. "It is in the interest of both doctors and patients to move towards this system" the Minister of State for Relations with Parliament declared. "There have been some misunderstandings, so it is logical that we should try to clarify the Government's intentions. This does not mean that it should be seen as a retreat for some and an advance for others."

The Health bill is a step forward for patients. It will allow easier access to healthcare and preventive medicine. The general application of the third-party payment system is the keystone for this change.
  • At present, in 2014, some French people do not go to the doctor’s because they cannot put up the consultation fee in advance. Third-party payment does away with this cash constraint, primarily for the middle classes. While French people in the lowest income brackets are already exempt from having to put up these costs thanks to the CMU (universal health coverage), one quarter of French people nevertheless state that they do without some healthcare for financial reasons. This applies to many in the middle classes, and it is an unacceptable state of affairs.
  • Third-party payment helps make general practitioners a more attractive option, taking the burden off casualty departments. Because they do not have the money to pay consultation fees in advance, many French people currently turn to casualty departments for illnesses that could be treated by a general practitioner. By delaying the care they need, they run the risk that their condition could worsen. Healthcare then becomes more difficult and therefore more expensive for their health insurance.
  • Doctors will no longer have to handle cash; and assault is not unknown in some medical practices.
  • Third-party payment already exists in France. It covers 35% of general practice cases. Pharmacists, medical biologists in local laboratories, nurses and speech therapists use it without any technical difficulty being observed.
  • Third-party payment is the rule in countries with a health insurance system: Germany, Spain, Italy, etc.

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