Only in France

Tuesday 31st October

Not only is France run by a massive bureaucracy, but nobody ever admits a mistake.  I applied for my Carte Vitale about a year ago.  This is a credit card with a chip, which not only keeps a record of all your doctor visits and treatments but all you have paid up front (as you do) in France at the Pharmacie (the most popular and powerful places in thewhole country) and eventually much of this is re-imbursed.  Firstly you telephone the DSS in UK ad let them know you are now resident en France.  They send you a form which you take to the CPAM in your nearest large town (Bergerac).  They give you a form to complete which your doctor has to sign and a list of documents you must produce.  Which I did.  They are very thorough and took copies of Birth Certificate, Passport, Bank Account etc.  They told me all was in order.

And then you hear nothing.  But this is usual.  Some time passes  and you get a letter asking for passport photo’s so they can be printed on your Carte Vitale which arrives a couple of months later.

Now, I received nothing.  No letter, no phone call.  But every time I saw a doctor or dentist I got a Feuille de Soin printed listing how much I had paid.  I have kept these.  Eventually fed up I went back to the Bergerac Office.

“But you have a temporary number”

“Yes, but no Carte Vitale”

“You will not get one, becuase you have a temporary number”

“So, how do I get a Carte Vitale?”

Eventually the lady agreed to try to chase it up with Bayonne, where these are apparently handled.  She still did not want my photos.  She says they will send me a letter asking for my photos.  Now I suspect that they did send a letter a few months ago, which I never received.  This would probably have told me to send my photos back, but because I never received the letter I think, they have given me a temporary number.  I should get all the money I am due back at some point.  But the question I wanted to (but didn’t) ask is “If you do not know a letter is going to be sent; and have not received it, how do you know the letter was ever sent.  Why are you responsible for reporting a letter undelivered which you do not know even exists?”

Hopefully (but experience triumphs over hope) I may eventually get a Carte Vitale.