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HEALTH

Attempted cyber-attack delays healthcare reimbursements in France

If you feel that you have been waiting longer than normal for your latest healthcare reimbursement, this might be due to attempts to hack La Poste.

Attempted cyber-attack delays healthcare reimbursements in France
Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP

Since April 27th, French postal service company, La Poste, has temporarily suspended external access to its messaging service. This has impacted more than 20,000 health professionals who rely on the service to communicate reimbursements to Social Security.

Healthcare in France works on a reimbursement system – you pay the doctor or pharmacist upfront and then some or all of the cost is reimbursed directly into your bank account using your carte vitale health card.

Usually the reimbursement takes just a few days, but the suspension of the La Poste messaging service means that requests for reimbursement have not been getting through.

So far La Poste has not provided a date for full restoration of its services, although it says it hopes for a partial restoration by next week.

After noticing that cybercriminals were trying to access it, the organisation temporarily deactivated access to its external platforms, including for the tens of thousands of people who use @laposte.net e-mail address.

When trying to send electronic forms, healthcare workers are instead met with error messages. There is also a paper form which can be used instead, but the electronic version typically shortens the wait for reimbursements.

Patients who are waiting for reimbursements do not need to take any action, but should be aware that the reimbursement might take longer than normal.

La Poste has confirmed the problem, saying “this measure has been taken for security reasons” and that it will be “for an indefinite period.” They asked that users access their accounts by going directly through La Poste’s website or its downloadable application.

La Poste also says it is “aware of the particular difficulties encountered by health professionals” and assures users that they are prioritising the restoration of services for them specifically.

They hope to see a gradual restoration of services from next Monday, but full restoration will take several days.

So far, La Poste has not reported any successful hacks or data leaks to French data protection agency, CNIL.

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HEALTH

French vocab and prices: Your guide to visiting the dentist in France

From finding a dentist to treatment costs, plus the crucial bits of French vocab, here's everything you need to know about visiting the dentist in France.

French vocab and prices: Your guide to visiting the dentist in France

The dentist – as unjustly dreaded in France as they are anywhere else in the world.

But, while few, if any, of us enjoy visiting our friendly, neighbourhood chirurgien-dentiste, we all know that it’s important to care for our teeth and gums, so here’s what you need to know.

How to make an appointment

A simple web search for a dentiste or chirurgien-dentiste will bring up the contact details of local professionals. Then it’s a case of ringing up to make an appointment. There is no need to be registered with a dentist, you can visit anyone who has a free appointment, although you may prefer to keep your appointments with the same person if you are  having ongoing treatment.

Alternatively, sites such as Doctolib may allow you to book a slot online.

If you’re worried about remembering your French verb conjugation while you have a mouth full of blood, Doctolib also lets you know which languages your dentist speaks.

READ ALSO How to use the French medical website Doctolib

How much it costs

The government-set going rate for a dental check-up is €23 for dentists working in the public health system – which most do. As a result, 70 percent of that fee, paid at the time of the consultation, will be reimbursed for anyone who holds a carte vitale.

Check-ups last as long as the dentist needs to examine your teeth. If no additional work is required, it’s just a few minutes in the chair.

If you require additional work, then how much you pay goes up – along with the time it takes. A basic filling, for example, costs €26.97, of which €18.88 is reimbursed. Descaling adds €28.92 to the initial bill, but is again partially reimbursed.

The upfront cost of root canal work on a molar, meanwhile, is €81.94, while extraction of a permanent tooth costs €33.44. 

The full price list is available on the Ameli website.

For any procedure that costs more than €70, your dentist will provide you with a written estimate, along with a number of options. 

Remember, these prices are for dentists operating in the state sector. Fees at private practices are higher.

What about crowns, implants or dentures?

Your dentist might offer you the option of a crown or implant instead of the basic treatments of fillings and extractions, but these are expensive and are usually not covered on the carte vitale, so here whether or not you have a mutuelle is important.

The top-up health cover known as a mutuelle – find more details here – will generally offer dental cover, but exactly what is covered depends on your policy.

If you require special treatment, make sure to consult the price list, as you will often have to pay up front before you can claim anything back. 

Dental hygienist/teeth-cleaning

If you like to visit the dentist regularly for a scale and polish you will need to check whether your dentist’s cabinet employs a hygiéniste dentaire (dental hygienist).

Most practices do but not all. If you’re going to a new practice it’s generally better to make an appointment first with the dentist for a check-up, and then ask for regular hygienist appointments.

Useful vocabulary

Dental surgery – un cabinet dentaire

Emergency dentist – un dentiste de service

I would like to make an appointment – je voudrais prendre un rendez-vous

I would like a check-up – je voudrais une visite de contrôle

It is an emergency – c’est une urgence

A tooth – une dent

Wisdom teeth – les dents de sagesse

A filling – une plombage or un pansement

une dévitalisation – root canal

I have broken a tooth – je me suis cassé une dent

I have a toothache – j’ai mal aux dents

My gums are bleeding – Mes gencives saignent

I have a cavity – J’ai une carie

My gums hurt – J’ai mal aux gencives

This one hurts – Celle-là me fait mal

These ones hurt – Celles-là me font mal

An abscess – Percer un abcès

Nerve – le nerf

An extraction – une extraction

Injection – une injection/une piqûre

Local anaesthetic – une anesthésie locale

Denture/s – les dentier/s or une prothèse dentaire/les prothèses dentaires

A crown – une couronne

A bridge – un bridge

ARRRRRRGH – AIIIIIIIIE (hopefully you won’t need this one)

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