French News Archive

Healthcare in France

French Health Insurer Breaks Ranks

Wednesday 15 November 2006

One of the largest French private health insurance companies has decided to offer a 'no claims bonus' for one of its policies, which risks increasing premiums for everyone else.


Residents of France will be familiar with the need to take out voluntary ('top-up') health insurance to meet those health costs not picked up by the social security system.

However, in future, if you decide to take out your insurance with insurer Mutuelles du Mans Assurances (MMA), it would be best that you maintain yourself in the rudest of health if you are to minimise your insurance premiums.

The company has decided to apply a 'no claims bonus' to its one of its policies, with a rebate available for those who do not make a claim in the year, or only do so for minor ailments.

This new policy breaks with the traditional stance taken by health insurers that insurance premiums should have no regard to the demands an insurer makes on their policy.

The policy is seen by many as an attempt to break out of the spiral of increasing insurance premiums and reduced reimbursement levels. It has also (coincidentally!) given a huge amount of publicity to the company.

In the main, the new policy is likely to be attractive to younger people, who argue that their premiums subsidise the elderly, the infirm, and hypochondriacs!

Whilst this is undoubtedly the case, critics consider it breaches the principle of 'solidarité' between the generations and the insurers themselves. If a large number of younger, fitter people do decide to take out the policy, and the practice is more widely adopted, then it is bound to result in higher premiums for everyone else.

In effect, opponents argue it amounts to indirect age discrimination, and it remains to be seen what, if anything, the government and regulatory authorities will do about it.

However, as this particular policy is more expensive to take out than others offered by the company, then they may not have to do anything if no one takes up the offer!

Whilst the company uses the term 'Mutuelles' in its name, it is not one of the non-profit making insurers who generically use this title. MMA is 'mutuelle' in name only, for it is a fully-fledged private company.

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