Guide to French Health System

12. Long-Term/Major Illness - 'Affection de Longue Durée – ALD'

12.1. What is an ALD?

An Affection de Longue Durée (ALD) is a major or long-term illness for which the State accepts responsibility for your health costs.

It is defined in French law as a 'condition requiring long-term care and particularly costly treatment’. The illness is one that must require medical treatment for at least six months.

There is an official list of illnesses classified as ALD, which is reviewed annually by the government.

This prescribed list of illnesses for which the State accepts responsibility for all your costs contains 30 pathologies. They include cancer, diabetes (type 1 and 2), serious heart disorder, dementia, Parkinson's, grave neurological or muscular diseases, and chronic lung disease.

In addition, there exists 'ALD 31' and 'ALD 32', which are illnesses not on the list but requiring extended care or particularly costly treatment.

If your doctor considers that you have an affection de longue durée they will make application to the local health authority who will assess your case and make the decision as to whether or not you will be entitled to 100% medical cover for the illness.

Whether or not such an application will be made will depend on the attitude of your doctor. Although doctors have been issued with guidance, some are inclined to make application whatever stage the illness has reached, whilst others take the view that until or unless it reaches an advanced stage an application is not deemed appropriate.

The period for which you will be entitled to ALD status is not indefinite, but is renewable at intervals of three years up to 10 years, depending on your illness and the assessment made by your doctor, in collaboration with the local health authority.

Once your name has been added to the ALD list, you need to make sure that your health card (carte vitale) is updated by the chemist, or you will otherwise receive only partial reimbursement for prescriptions. Your ALD status should normally be included on the prescription given to you by your doctor.

12.2. Reimbursement of Costs

As a general rule, all costs are fully reimbursable by the social security system, provided the fees and charges are made at the official rate.

Although the State formally picks up the charges for treatment of an ALD, there remain a number of charges the responsibility of the patient.

i. Other Illnesses - You will only be entitled to partial reimbursement for all other illnesses. In some cases, ancillary medication that is not directly related to the chronic illness may also only reimbursed on a partial basis.

ii. Consultant Surcharges - An increasing number of hospital consultants and other medical specialists impose charges over and above the standard fixed tariff set by the government on which reimbursements are based. These additional 'depassement honoraires' are not covered by ALD, although you may also be exempt on income grounds.

iii. Daily Hospital Charge - If you are admitted to hospital for over 24 hours you will be required to pay a daily accommodation rate of €20, called the 'forfait journalier hospitalier' which is the responsibility of the patient. In addition you may be obliged to pay certain other hospital charges, such as an additional charge for a single room, television and/or telephone.

iv. Medical Consultations - All patients are required to pay €1 for each medical consultation or analysis, irrespective of whether or not they have full insurance cover. This is called the 'participation forfaitaire'.

v. 'Franchise Medical' - You will be required to pay 50 cents towards the cost of all medicines, except those given during hospitalisation. There is a similar charge for auxiliary medical treatments, such as physiotherapy. You are also required to pay €2 towards the cost of medical transport if needed, save for emergencies. All to the limit of €50 per year.

All of these costs, except for the €1 'participation forfaitaire', may be reimbursed by your complementary policy, although it will depend on the terms of the policy.

The transport costs for patients suffering from an ALD are normally automatically reimbursable.

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