Thursday, 26 November 2009

The joke is on my Carte Vitale

I laughed out loud when I inserted my Carte Vitale into the machine at the pharmacy this morning, but to be honest I didn't expect anything different. 'Your card no longer works, please see the relevant authorities'.

I've had a hate-hate relationship with my carte vitale throughout my French life and now I can finally laugh in it's face at its uselessness.

When I lived in the North, I got my health insurance number like we all do and got my first green health insurance card or my 'carte vitale'. Great, that's done then. Oh no...

When I moved to the neighbouring departément picardie I never gave it a thought. After all, health insurance is a national scheme right? My card was going to work right? Wrong. I found out the painful way when I was admitted to hospital with a suspected burst appendix. 'Madame, your card isn't working (how are we going to prove you have the right to health care??)' What? You can imagine the fall out that caused at the hospital.

With investigation, I found that you had to update your carte vitale at pharmacies any time anything changes in your move, change mutuelle etc. I also found that if your card couldn't be updated, you had to get a new one.

Wait a minute...why wouldn't your card be able to be updated? Surely that's the point of the machines to connect to the national database?! Ha, not so fast. With a shrug only a French fonctionnaire could manage I was told that moving departments 'sometimes' means getting a new card. Fine I thought, let's just it over with, fill in the forms and wait 4 months for the new card.

(As a side note, what do you think happens to the information on the old card? Is it just lost, forgotten about? Like my medical history doesn't matter? It's definitely not on my new card that's for sure. Worringly really)

Annnyway, I knew the next battle was coming when I decided to get out of Education Nationale. You see, teachers get their own super special branch of health insurance called the MGE of N. Same carte vitale, totally different approach. Not to mention their super dooper mutuelle to help pay for health care. Not being a teacher any more meant changing over to the general scheme CPA of M.

I was ready for the battle. I went to the office in town and explained that I was no longer a teacher (the woman looked at me like I'd just said I'd met one quits being a teacher) and I got all the paperwork to fill in. I recently received a letter saying 'You have been informed that it's possible to update your card, please do so'. Great I thought. They say it's possible, it must be. Zoom forward to the first paragraph of this post.

Please, was I really going to believe a bit of French paperwork saying that something was possible? No, I'm wiser than that. So, what's next in my Carte Vitale story? I will be sending off for my third carte vitale in 4 years. Unfortunately they have just started putting photos on them so that's something else to do. J had to get a new card too recently when he changed his official doctor to a local one. He waited 6 whole months for his so I won't be holding my breathe that I'll be getting mine anytime soon. He couldn't even fill in the form to get one as his request was in the 'system' and he had to wait to receive the form in the post, and wait he did.

I'd like to take this moment to remember all my medical history that has been lost and hope that one day a doctor won't need this information for alas, it went to carte vitale heaven.

The carte vitale. Not so vital after all.


Cynthia said...

Lol :) Better to be laughing about it than crying ... I guess.

I'm having problems with mine as well, there is no information whatsoever on my situation and every time I ask someone they look at me as if I am an alien. Oh joy!

L said...

There actually isn't any medical info on your card, just info of which Caisse you belong do (MGEN, CPAM, Gendarmerie, etc) your name, and normally your Complement de santé info (though not all of it). So nothing was lost with the old cards, since there never was anything on it.

I had similar problems when I finished my teaching because normally you stay with your old caisse for 3 years or until you find a new job, but the MGEN canceled my card and when I went to update it at the CPAM they realized I needed a new one. It all go straightened out when I made an appointment at the CPAM and actually sat down with someone who looked at my file.

Amber said...

I've never had one at all and i've been here since 2006! Sent in my paperwork well over a year ago, sent it in again when we arrive in the north, and still nothing. I just use my attestation de secu and that seems to work everywhere.

Emmy said...

Thanks for the info L. I'm pleased to hear that there's no info on them from a security angle - but does that mean that my medical history doesn't follow me at all? That's very worryig too.

I still don't really see the point of the cards if you can use the attestation instead. Like I said, not very vital, the carte vitale.

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