My Essential, Elusive Carte Vitale!
I started my application for a Carte Vitale on 30th March 2016. As of today, 24th October, there is still no sign of it!
As a resident in France it is vital to have a Carte Vitale. It is a plastic card, embedded with a microchip containing one's social security insurance details. It allows for direct, immediate reimbursement of 70% of all medical treatment, doctors' visits and prescriptions. Without it, one has to pay up front, be issued with a 'feuille de soins' to send off to the nearest CPAM for reimbursement: this can take weeks.
Actually, I began the process even earlier. A week before I took possession of my new home on 11th March 2016 I made a call to the Department of Work and Pensions, Newcastle-upon-Tyne to request form S1 (for those of us retired and on a UK pension). They said it could take three weeks to arrive, so it is worth requesting it at the earliest opportunity. It arrived after a couple of weeks but, with a broken arm, I couldn't drive so looked online where I found and printed off the 'Declaration de Changement de Situation'.
This was duly completed and sent along with the S1, copies of my birth certificate and passport, and the attestation from the notaire to CPAM, Gueret on 30th March. April and May passed but still no response from CPAM. I sent an email to ask if there was any progress but didn't receive a reply: I have since learnt that emails are usually ignored.
The pins were removed from my right arm on 19th May but, as my arm was stiff and painful, I waited until the 30th to drive to Gueret to find out what had happened to my Carte Vitale. I was assured that all my details and papers had been received, were in order and was told to visit the 'Tresorie Publique' in Aubusson on 14th June where there would be a 'Permanences de la CPAM de La Creuse' (a sort of annual, itinerant outpost).
I did as instructed two weeks' later only to see the SAME lady who THEN said she would need to see my original birth certificate as the copy was not valid! I wondered why this had not been mentioned previously but, having only limited and polite French, smiled sweetly and asked if I could bring it to her the next day. Silly me! No, I had to return on the 28th June, another two weeks to wait!
Well, the 28th dawned: I returned with the original, whereupon she took another copy! Surely, I was getting closer?
No. On the 12th July I had a call from CPAM, Gueret, requesting, out of the blue, proof of all marriages and divorces (I won't say how many!). I had packed and unpacked so many times since leaving North Wales. Would I still be able to locate all the documentation? I was beginning to feel really frustrated, to say the least. I turfed out boxes, drawers, files, coming across papers and photos I hadn't seen in ages: somehow or other managing to find what they, at this late stage, were suddenly insisting upon.
Recalling all this now is very tedious so, as a reader, I'm sure it is getting boring, almost predictable! I again drove the 80 minute round trip to Gueret with said papers and recently taken passport photos for my, surely soon to be acquired, Carte Vitale. Soon? No way: I was assured it would be later, much later, as everything needed to be sent off for verification.
August and September came and went. No card. I wrote two letters in my best, polite French. However, on 13th September I received a call from CPAM in response to my pleas and queries: my case has been sent to the office at Le Mans; not their fault in Gueret at all.This is as far as I have got after seven months! The good news is that I have a temporary 'numero de securite sociale' which covers medical costs as long as I continue to send all 'feuilles de soins' to them for eventual reimbursement.
I will keep you posted!