You may have heard a lot about each other in France, but this is not the only form of health coverage.
The costs and benefits of various top-up health insurance options have been highlighted in a new report.
Most people have some form Complementary Health to ‘add up’ health costs that are not paid for by social security.
General practitioner visits, for example, are only 70% replaced by countries without visits.
Figures of around 95% are often quoted for such coverage among people in France.
However, in 2019 barometer a report by Fnim (a body representing top-up providers), looking at the situation in the industry, stated that it had fallen to 90%, with low-income households and young people being the most affected.
The latter is partly because students are no longer required to have a top-up to claim basic health care coverage.
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Three types of ‘reload’ providers
While such policies are often called Mutuelles in colloquial parlance, they are technically just one of three types of policy providers.
Strictly speaking, a each other is a non-profit organization funded by, and owned by, members.
Then there are the regular insurance companies, which seek profit for shareholders.
Finally, charitable institutions is another type of non-profit, in charge of several health at work schemes.
Low-income people may benefit from free or subsidized top-up cover under so-called schemes complementary health insurance.
However, France has stopped allowing this for people whose primary health care rights are paid for by other countries under the S1 scheme, including retired UK and EU citizens.
Read more: Low income but resisting free French top-up health insurance? The next step
Collective contracts appear to provide the best value
In 2021, de prévoyance institutions pay the highest percentage of premiums back in healthcare (86%), according to a report from public statistics agency Drees.
mutual paid 81% and insurance companies 77%.
This difference is partly due to the high number of collective labor contracts, said Drees.
Across all providers, collective contracts appear to provide the best value, returning 86% of premiums in the form of service, compared to 74% for contracts taken by individuals.
This may be because companies that are required to provide credit subsidies to employees have greater negotiating abilities.
provider institution also have lower than average administration costs because collective contracts can be managed more efficiently.
Choosing between a Mutuelle and an insurance company
Apart from employees, the individual who decides which top-up to take will usually choose between the two each other and insurance companies.
Delphine Bardou, director of marketing at insurance comparison website Réassurez-moi, said: “Contrary to what we might think, [commercial] Health insurance contracts are no more expensive than each other contract.”
His advice is to “choose the level of coverage provided in various fields (medicine, dentistry, eye care) and compare prices, without worrying too much about whether or not the provider is for-profit.
In the past, there may have been other advantages to a each other: usually, if the cost of claims during the year is lower than expected, the Mutuelle will refund the difference to the policyholder.
Commercial insurers, meanwhile, will pay out a portion of the surplus to shareholders as profit, and the remaining portion will be used to offset future increases in claims.
Recent changes to the law have led to an increase in reimbursement paid to patients, meaning this is rarely relevant today, said Ms Bardou.
“mutual no longer recoup the difference at the end of the year, because the claim is equal to the premium paid.
“In fact, the total replacement is often higher than the premium, so prices go up year after year.”
A study by consumer group UFC-Que Choisir found that, on average, refill prices rose by 7.1% between 2022 and 2023, equivalent to an average increase of €126 per year.
Premiums rose 9% with insurance companies, at 8.8%. charitable institutionsand 6.9% among Mutuelles.
Premiums have jumped 23% since 2019, twice as fast as inflation, the group said, adding that, in its view, most providers had not informed policyholders of the price increases clearly enough.
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