Hearing care professionals commit to historic reform in France

Reimbursement

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In France, the establishment of full reimbursement (RAC zero in French) for optical dental and hearing devices was officially signed by the relevant professional bodies and the French Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn. Here is the reaction of the French National Union of Hearing Care Professionals (UNSAF) and his President Luis Godinho.

“After several months of discussion, the hearing aid sector reached an agreement with the French Government. This historic agreement, signed by UNSAF, marks the beginning of a new era in the healthcare coverage of hearing loss in France. This will benefit the hearing impaired, and more particularly those with lower incomes. This was made possible through the mobilization of all the key stakeholders each of whom, in view of the issues faced by those affected by these conditions, agreed to make efforts to find middle ground. In particular, we applaud the effort made by the French health insurance body (Assurance maladie), because even if the agreed upon reimbursement level is still well below that of our European neighbours, it breaks the precedent of the previous 30 years."

For years, the French National Union of Hearing Protection Professionals (UNSAF) has been advocating for better reimbursement of hearing aids, in order to improve access to health care for the hearing impaired. This inspired French president Emmanuel Macron, who actively initiated a remobilization policy of the French social security and complementary health systems to improve the coverage of hearing aids.

The resulting scheme will come into application gradually between 2019 and 2021, during which time the compulsory and complementary level of reimbursement will evolve. For their part, audiologists are committing to deliver a high-quality offering at a controlled rate, which will include after-sales follow-up and offering assistance to patients fitted with hearing aids, for a minimum duration of four years.

Furthermore, in order to monitor the evolution of the price of equipment and to ensure the economic sustainability of the system, an observatory will be set up whose task will be to foresee any necessary adjustments.

“UNSAF commends this reform, made possible by significant efforts on the part of all the key players: hearing care professionals, the French health insurance body and complementary health insurance organisations. This renewed commitment on behalf of the public authorities towards the hearing aid sector should finally enable us to launch awareness, screening and prevention campaigns, to warn against the serious consequences of hearing loss, about which many people are still unaware.

Hearing care professionals are committed to promoting this new program to patients and to the general public. These communication programmes need to be supported by the public authorities, the health insurance body as well as the complementary health insurance organisations, without delay, so as to avoid unnecessary delays in reimbursement and care.”

: Source: UNSAF

G.B.