mardi 15 mars 2011

La Carte Vitale and Healthcare in France vs Australia

Ahhh gotta love French bureaucracy.. not! I've been here nearly SIX MONTHS and today was the momentous day where I finally received my Carte Vitale. What is a Carte Vitale you ask? Translated as "Vital Card" (LOL) it's a card that means you're subscribed into the French healthcare system! Which means that you are finally part of the 'tax paying' community of Frenchies... sort of. In my job we don't really pay any income tax but in each monthly pay packet, part of our salary is deducted for social security and this is the card that lets us make use of that wonderful thing called French social security (for health purposes).

In case you were wondering, I actually purchased a rather expensive travel insurance plan that would cover me for anything health-related as well as theft, unforeseen circumstances, etc. And this was for any country in Europe. So it didn't worry me that I wasn't subscribed into the French system for months.

When I went searching for a pic of the Australian Medicare card to compare on Google Images, it occurred to me that they come with chips now (mine doesn't have one). If you look above, the two cards are coincidentally the same colour with similar type of font as well! Usually partners/spouses and kids are listed on the same cards as their parents and so you can have up to 4 names (or is it 6?) on a single card! When I was 16, I went and got my own so I could finally go to the GP without my parents!

Americans seem to rave about how great the French healthcare system (because it seems like they have to pay for EVERYTHING there) but coming from Australia, I have to say that ours is pretty good too (and without the long paperwork delays). Actually both are good, but after doing some reading/investigating I think the French system is still superior (only because of how little you end up paying). It's hard for me to judge though as I haven't been here that long and I have not really used 'the system' all that much...

One thing I didn't like was that I had to make an appointment to see my local GP and that usually meant a several day wait! Also, he was naturally closed during lunchtimes (which was when I wanted to go!) so I either had to get there at 7am or wait forever amongst the after school/work crowd. I know it's probably different in other cities but this annoyed me. As well as that, I don't know of any pharmacies that are open late or on Sundays. And of course in my town they are all closed during lunchtimes and Mondays too (this stupid lunchtime/Monday closure crap is really getting to me now). What the heck do you do if you are sick during those times? I've learnt to stockpile medication that's for sure.
Fact: France spends more on ‘welfare' than almost any other EU country: over 30 per cent of GDP.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility if the info provided here below is wrong. Both the French and Australian websites were terrible for navigation and information.

French Healthcare Australian Healthcare
Eligibility • French citizen
• EU National
• All Students in a State institution
• Employed in France (including self-employed)
• French retiree who has worked a certain amount of time prior
• EU Retirees receiving the pension in their own country
• Australian citizen
• Australian permanent resident
• New Zealand citizen
• Students from the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium or Italy only
• In most cases temporary residents with a valid work visa or diplomats are not eligible to access Australia subsidised health care system unless they are from a country that has reciprocal health care arrangements with Australia (United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Malta and Ireland).
Pharmaceuticals Reimbursed 15-100% depending on what kind of medication it is Subsidized by the Medicare scheme/government (known as PBS) but still more expensive than France. Healthcare card holders (unemployed/low income/pensioners, etc) pay $5.60 for almost all prescription medications and vaccines like the annual flu shot)
Vaccines Reimbursed 60-70% Reimbursed for babies/children. For adults, Reimbursed 0%. Ranges from $20-80 per shot up to $460 for the Gardasil 3 course shot, for example.
Cost of a visit to a GP Usually 22€ reimbursed 70% (therefore you pay 6,60€) If you go to a Medicare-enabled GP/medical centre (AKA "Bulk Billing") it's reimbursed 100%
Cost of a visit to a Specialist Reimbursed 70% Reimbursed 80%
Dentistry (check-up) Reimbursed 70% Depends. But generally quite expensive, usually reimbursed 0%
Optometry (check-up) Depends Reimbursed 100%
X-rays 1€ Reimbursed 100%
Hospitals 18€/day or13,50€/day for a psychiatric clinic. Services reimbursed at 80% Public Hospital:  Reimbursed 100%(but months/years-long waiting list!)

French Healthcare
Medicare Australia
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Australia


Jennie a dit…

Yeah, I believe I had been here about 5 months before I finally received my carte vitale too.

There is always one pharmacy open 24 hours a day in each commune, in case of emergencies, but of course it changes often so you have to look for a list posted at a pharmacy or call 3237 for your nearest pharmacie de garde.

You can also order the European Health Insurance Card to use in the EU countries for when you travel abroad. It's included in the charges you pay toward la sécu in France, so you're covered when you travel in Europe too.

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