Currently, anyone who has survived cancer must report that they have had it on mortgage and loan applications for a decade after they have been declared clear.
A change in the law would represent progress for thousands of patients forced to declare their history of cancer, for example when applying for a mortgage.
Under plans agreed by a joint committee of senators and MPs, which also has government backing as it was a campaign promise of Emmanuel Macron in 2017, that period would be reduced by half as long as the cancer has not returned.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Olivier Véran said that it was “the wish of the president and the government to keep this commitment” before Parliament breaks up ahead of the Presidential elections.
Véran himself welcomed the move on Twitter.
Le droit à l’oubli pour les patients et anciens malades de cancers passe de 10 à 5 ans !
Une immense avancée sociale pour ces femmes et ces hommes qui vont pouvoir reprendre leur quotidien sans avoir à porter une croix injustifiée.
Engagement du président de la République tenu.
— Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) February 3, 2022
In an interview with cancer association RoseUp, Véran said the health crisis was a key reason for the delay getting the plan before Parliament.
“But our will has always been full and complete,” he said.
“This is also why I wanted the principle of the extension of the right to be forgotten to be included in the new 10-year strategy against cancer, and that with the Minister for the Economy, we also contacted … insurers and patient associations to get them to move forward without waiting for the law to be adopted.
“It’s a historic vote. This allows cured people access to loans under normal conditions”, said Isabelle Huet, of the cancer association RoseUp told AFP.
“It’s a big step towards the inclusion of people who have had cancer,” added Catherine Simonin of the Ligue contre le cancer. “With the right to be forgotten, we enter into common law and we are no longer penalised by the disease we have suffered”.
This measure must be discussed again on Thursday, during a joint committee between the Senate and the National Assembly.
The joint committee agreement came on the eve of World Cancer Day, on which Véran unveiled France’s new 10-year strategy. Now the text heads to the Assembly and the Senate for a final vote on February 17th.
The right to be forgotten was created in France in 2017. At the same time, the AERAS agreement, (“s’Assurer et Emprunter avec un Risque Aggravé de Santé”), signed between banking professionals, associations and the public authorities, has facilitated access to borrowing for those who have recovered from life-threatening conditions, cutting the waiting period necessary before not declaring cancer from 20 to 10 years – and five years for young people under 21.
But those who have recovered from diseases such as cancer have still found getting a home loan or credit has been an uphill battle – with refusals, delays and added insurance costs, depending on the type of cancer, commonplace.
Nearly four million people in France are believed to have or have recovered from cancer.
In addition to reducing the period before the right to be forgotten kicks in, parliamentarians proposed to remove the medical questionnaire for mortgages below €200,000 and whose term occurs before the 65th birthday of the borrower.