Do you wear glasses or contacts? Isabelle Moins discusses eye care in France and what is covered under the French public health system
A Living France reader asked “I am currently living in the UK but starting to plan a move to France. I wear contact lenses and, at the moment, order new lenses online when I need them. I was wondering how eye care works in France? Could I use my existing prescription in France, and are contact lenses covered at all under the French medical system?” Isabelle Moins answers –
Once residing in France you will be able to enrol into the French social security system. The registration process will depend on your situation whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee or retired. It’s important to know that standard State French health insurance only covers part of your costs.
How much you will be reimbursed depends on:
– The cost of your consultation, procedure, treatment or service – which is determined by France’s social security system (the social security reimbursement rate is referred to as BRSS in tables of benefits).
– The repayment rate (taux de remboursement). This rate is also determined by social security, and varies according to the type of care. For example, you’ll be reimbursed 70% of the flat fee for a consultation, 65% for medicines for significant medical services, and so on.
Optical care, which includes glasses and contact lenses, is not very well covered by the public health system in France. Contact lenses are reimbursed by social security only in a few particular cases: irregular astigmatism, myopia equal to or greater than eight diopters, accommodative esotropia, aphakia, anisometropia of three diopters or keratoconus. If you suffer from one of these disorders you will be reimbursed €23.64 per eye (60% of the social security reimbursement rate set at €39.40). If you do not meet these criteria your contact lenses will not be covered at all by the public system. Glasses are covered by the social security up to €2.84 for the frames and up to €7.32 for the lenses, even though the total cost may be quite considerable and amount to a few hundred euros.
Of course you will need a prescription to get your reimbursement. Prescriptions for medication or medical devices delivered in another European Union or European Economic Area state may be used in France. In order to be accepted, the prescription must contain the minimum information required such as: patient’s identity, prescription date of issue, prescribing health professional’s identity and identification of any prescribed products.
However, your prescription may be refused if the medication is considered non-adapted or if there is a justified doubt as to the authenticity or intelligibility of the prescription.
If you need comprehensive eye care, obtaining a top-up cover from a private insurer in France is highly recommended to guarantee better reimbursement of your costs. Most complementary plans (called mutuelle in French) offer an annual upper limit for your expenses related to glasses and contact lenses. This rate usually varies from €70 to €300 per year.
Remember to carefully read the table of benefits before choosing your top-up insurance and the cover level suitable for your needs.
Isabelle Moins is Managing Director at APRIL International Care France, an international private medical and travel insurance provider. april-international.co
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