A new digital version of the French health card, known as Vitale electronic letter – will spread throughout France in the coming months.
This follows trials in eight departments last year.
It means that soon it will be possible to show your vital letter at the doctor’s office or pharmacy using a smartphone instead of a plastic card.
the conventional vital letter It has been in people’s wallets since 1998, making healthcare reimbursements simple.
A card swipe replaced the old system of having to systematically charge leaves of soin health forms each time you went to the doctor or pharmacist, and send them to your Cpam health organization for reimbursement.
Instead, it means that when prepayment is required, the refund is automatic to your bank account, or in some cases, there is nothing to pay upfront.
The system in general works well, however, for several years, the government has been advocating the digitization of cards.
This project is part of a broader upgrade of the health service.
In February 2022, for example, Assurance maladie launched ‘Mon Espace Santé‘, the latest version of online medical records, which was allocated to everyone in the system unless they actively opted out, after the disappointing adoption of previous similar schemes.
Digital versions of recipes are also being developed.
What are the advantages?
Assurance maladie justifies the measure by saying that “with their smartphone, patients are more likely to have their vital letter about them, so electronic vital card it is the guarantee of always being able to make the reimbursement electronically”.
According to Assurance maladie, the new system will also link directly to a database of patient data and social security entitlements, reducing the risks of errors or rejected claims for reimbursement.
It also reduces the risk of infections related to handling physical cards.
An advantage for users is, says Assurance Maladie, that in the long term it will also be possible to integrate details of their recharge. mutual safe on it, so this is also digitized.
The app will also allow users to check the acts and medicines they have paid through the app over the previous seven days. They will also be able to keep their health reimbursement rights up to date in the app without having to visit a pharmacy or their Cpam.
Finally, another promised function is to allow users to delegate the use of the Vitale electronic letter to another trusted person for a certain time, for example to the grandparents who are taking care of the grandchildren.
How does it work?
You first need to download a mobile app on your smartphone, called ‘apCV’.
The user will then be able to upload details of their physique vital letter in the app.
During a consultation or a purchase at the pharmacy, the user will only have to show a QR code on their phone for it to be read by an electronic reading device, or place the phone on an ‘NFC’ terminal.
Assurance maladie recommends the QR code version in the first instance, as not all smartphones are equipped with ‘NFC’ technology.
In this app it will be possible to find the user’s data, their national health identifier and data for monitoring the use of the card.
What about data security?
Assurance maladie states that the application data will have the same level of security as the physical card but will only be able to store a limited amount of information: last name, first name(s), gender or sex, status (insured person, child, etc.) “and the organization to which they belong.”
In addition, users will have to carry out double authentication each time: “through the insured’s smartphone and through a personal secret code,” explains Assurance maladie.
What is the schedule for deployment?
This digital tool was already implemented last year in eight different health insurance funds: Alpes-Maritimes, Bas-Rhin, Loire-Atlantique, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, Saône-et-Loire, Sarthe and Seine-Maritime.
This system will be extended nationwide this year, it is planned.
What about physical health cards?
The authorities do not wish to abolish the traditional vital letter For the time being.
Some French outlets have stated that physical cards are expected to be phased out by 2026, although we have not seen official confirmation of this. It is also planned that the state will offer training for people who are not familiar with the use of digital technology. It will also encourage mutual top-up insurance providers to do the same.
Meanwhile, the beneficiaries will be able to have a vital letter in each of the two available forms.