The Senate hunts down “rabbit posers” at the doctor’s office: the upper house adopted on Thursday the principle of penalizing patients who would not honor their medical appointments, the government being “very sensitive” on the issue, but not immediately. Two senators had already looking into it at the start of the year.
To combat the increase in last-minute cancellations of appointments and “empower” patients, several parliamentary groups voted in favor of an amendment aimed at “putting the responsibility on insured persons who do not honor an appointment in city care a lump sum”.
This sum, nicknamed “rabbit tax”, would be partly paid by Health Insurance to the healthcare professionals concerned.
This amendment was voted on as part of the draft Social Security budget for 2024 (PLFSS), examined this week in the Senate.
The government has given an unfavorable opinion on the proposed mechanism and will be able to reject it thanks to article 49.3 activated in the National Assembly to have the PLFSS adopted without a vote. But he was open on the issue.
“This subject must be referred to conventional negotiation,” said the Minister of Health, Aurélien Rousseau, explaining that he “did not find the solution” that would allow patients to be treated fairly according to their method of making appointments (platforms such as Doctolib, telephone, etc.). However, he said he was “very sensitive” on the subject.
Between 6 and 10% of appointments not honored
The right and center senatorial majority relies on figures from the Academy of Medicine and the National Council of the Order of Physicians: these organizations estimate between 6 and 10% the number of patients who do not appear at their appointment. Or, over the year, 27 million consultations lost.
The subject had already been presented to the Senate last spring – without success. Lhe patient associations denounced such a system: “To say that we are going to make patients pay is not up to the challenge,” replied Gérard Raymond, the president of France Assos Santé – which brings together 90 patient associations and of users of the health system.
“A doctor cannot charge for a consultation that he did not make”
“We are against this simplistic solution,” he insists, recalling that a financial penalty is currently “contrary to the law, because a doctor cannot charge for a consultation that he has not not done.” To avoid getting to this point, salvation could come from the platforms. The market leader, Doctolib, had promised to improve its appointment “reminder system”.
On Thursday, the Senate also questioned the Minister of Health on the possible doubling of medical deductibles – this remains the responsibility of the insured when they buy medicines (50 cents per box) or see a doctor (one euro per consultation).
Mentioned, this increase does not appear in the PLFSS at present: “The decision has not been made,” explained Aurélien Rousseau. The minister assessed the impact of the measure at “17 euros per year on average” for policyholders.