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Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare in France’

Here's hoping the Secu will give me some Euros for my piggy bank

Having read several posts over at Traveling Amber regarding her battles with various French administration departments during the late stages of her pregnancy, I decided to follow her advice and start tackling some of my administration problems now, rather than leave them until later on.

Ambers’ tales have left me weak kneed about what’s to come and have made me realize I seriously have to get my act together. So I have listed everything that’s not right with my relationship with the French Social Security people and have tried to start attacking my list as best as I can:

With the impending move, its best I get everything sorted now; otherwise a change of address and department will make things even more complicated than they already are.

I did start trying to sort things out this summer and things came to a head in September when my Doctor disappeared (read post here). After writing this post, I waited a while in case my Doctor showed a sign of life and come mid-October I still hadn’t had any news either from my old Doctor (who really has disappeared off the face of the earth) or from the lovely people at the CPAM (social security).

In order to achieve any result in France it’s best to think like a French person and act as they would. In this case sending a registered letter should do the trick. So I wrote to them, in my best French, explaining my situation and including as much documentation as I could.

They also still owed me money for the month I had off work in February after my fondue fork stabbing incident and a whole months salary is not a little amount. I reminded them in my letter that I was still waiting for this payment to come through and again I included documentation supporting my case.

Feeling pleased with myself for having attacked the problem head-on and in due form, I posted the registered letter and sat back and waited for a response, certain that everything would be resolved in a timely manner.

That is, until today. My kind Outlook calendar burst into action and reminded me to check my bank account for payments. I dutifully did so, rather hoping to have received a windfall (I’m owed a couple of thousand Euros), but niltch, nada, nothing.

Feeling really peeved I called the CPAM (social security people) and tried to find out why over a month and half after doing everything they told me to do nothing had happened. My situation is really complicated and I could hear the woman on the other end of the phone switching off as I tried to explain.

My braces were shredding at my tongue and my cheeks and I was in agony as I applied as I applied my very best French accent (not easy these days since I’ve had lingual braces fitted) as I outlined everything that was still wrong with my health cover and payments.

Rather amazingly, the lady managed to summarize what I had spent the last five minutes trying to say in a couple of phrases (does this mean this type of problem is common?) and told me that she couldn’t help! WHAT? I had gone to all that trouble for nothing, steam was coming out of my ears!

She took my telephone number and said that she would pass a message on to the appropriate service. When I enquired as to when I can expect a call she informed me 21 days!! How pathetic is that? I told her that I’d already written in well over 21 days ago and that I hadn’t heard anything. All she could say was that she was sorry and that she couldn’t do anything more.

I know it’s not her fault so I really did manage to reign in my anger and frustration but I was absolutely livid. This is a lot of money we’re talking about and at this time of year after all the taxes etc have wiped out my account and with all the baby stuff we need to purchase, I really could do with getting what I have contributed into the system for as per my rights.

Afterall, if I stopped contributing they would soon stop paying but they’re not even paying when I am contributing! What to do?

I’ve decided I’m going to give them another 10 days and then I’ll be sending another registered letter with copies of previous correspondence, details of calls and I will also be addressing a copy to a mediator or something (gosh, I hope one exists, any ideas?).

Until then I’ll be keeping a close eye on my Carte Vitale (the essential French healthcare card which contains all my social security details and is required at every medical occasion) so not to lose it and further complicate matters. Unfortunately my brilliant pregnant brain is playing havoc and I keep loosing it. The Carte Vitale is the size of a credit card and only this morning did I risk loosing it again by absent mindedly putting it in yet another car parking payment machine.

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Photo from PhotoExpress

Two words I would desperately love to be able to say to my Doctor right now. I have been trying very hard to say them but my Doctor appears to have disappeared.

Originally I thought he was on holiday and made do without him, but I’ve been trying to reach him since the beginning of September now without any luck. My need to contact him opposed to just any Doctor is urgent and is because the pesky French social security has managed to loose my attestation of declared doctor since I switched from one service to another.

This missing attestation means as far as they are concerned I do not have a declared Doctor and all my medical reimbursements for normal appointments, specialists, x-rays, IRM scans etc are only reimbursed at 30% of what I paid and my additional health insurance policy won’t accept to pay the difference.

This mess up is meaning that I am hundreds of Euros out of pocket and the only possible solution to remedy the situation is to get my Doctor to resign a form.

Desperate to track him down, I went on a detective mission yesterday and visited his office which like many French GP’s is in a residential apartment block. His button on the interphone was no longer working and his shutters were all closed. Not a good sign. Next I checked out his letter box. My crouching down on the floor on all fours and putting my head at a really odd angle I could make out that there was quite a lot of post in the box. Now, I don’t know how much post a Doctor normally receives but that looked like a lot. Not a good sign.

I must have raised suspicions as a resident of the apartment block came out to see what I was doing, I don’t suppose that it’s everyday that they have fake blondes loitering in the entrance hall on all fours trying to peer into their letter boxes!

Alas, the resident quickly confirmed that the Doctor had not been seen for almost two months and nobody knew where he had gone or if anything had happened to him.

This did not leave me with much hope and I popped the letter I had pre-prepared into his letter box with my request and hoped that he would pick it up soon. I left the building dejected, wondering what had happened to my Doctor and whether he was okay and also worried about the financial consequences for me vis-à-vis the Social Security due to his disappearance.

On returning home, I called the Social Security to explain my plight and see what could be done. Afterall, it isn’t just a few Euros I was talking about so it was definitely worth the call however complicated it may be, what with the French aspect (okay so I am fluent, but dealing with these people is hard work even for Frenchies) and my lisping with my braces.

By way of a miracle I spoke to a lovely lady who did not sound at all surprised that my Doctor could disappear (is this a frequent occurrence in France then?) and she told me not to worry. Apparently they can contact my old Caisse and get confirmation from them that I had already declared my Doctor. Question: why did they not do this originally when I told them I had already declared it?

Now,  I have to go and find a new GP to register with. This may seem an easy task to most but if you’re looking for someone who actually listens to what you have to say before they start writing the prescription then you’ll realize that this is not the case. At least not around here anyway.

My Doctor was a rare pearl and I sincerely hope he is well whatever may have happened to him.

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