Thousands of French health practitioners took to the streets of Paris on Sunday (March 15) to protest against a bill aimed at reforming the country’s health system.
The French government is pushing for reform aimed at making it easier for low earners to get access to a doctor, risking the ire of medics who complain the new funding arrangements will leave them out of pocket.
“Practitioners are against the bill, one that is only based on ideology and which is going through without the approval of health practitioners,” said general practitioner Claude Regnier.
The standard current practice in France is to pay 23 euros up-front for a consultation and be reimbursed by the public health insurance fund later, an arrangement the Socialist government argues puts many low-earners off going to the doctor.
The plans for reform would make visits free for the patient at the point of use and would require the general practitioner’s office to seek payment from the fund afterwards.
Practitioners argue this will raise their administrative workload and lead to late payments for their services.
“We are protesting against the health bill. There are many things in it apart from the funding aspect, but there is more, it’s global. We want to be able to care for patients correctly, practice real medicine and not just administrative tasks,” said General Practitioner, Laurence Bique.
French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said the government would create a specific guarantee mechanism to ensure doctors were paid.