• 60'
  • Author : Donatien Lemaître
  • 17-04-2021
  • Master : 3047


There’s a minor revolution in the healthcare world. Prescription glasses, hearing aids… New players are promising French people they can get their devices in record time, without spending a penny. Health care service providers are also booming: specialist ophthalmology or dental centres are offering almost immediate appointments and consultations without the need to put any money up front. High-tech remote-consultation cabins are being set up in villages with no doctor. How good are glasses and hearing aids at zero cost? What is the level of care in these eye and dental centres? Are there any scams? An investigation into the flourishing business of low-cost care. Entrepreneur Paul Morlet has ruffled the feathers of opticians by cutting the price of prescription glasses. In his stores, most of the frames are reimbursed 100% and produced within 10 minutes. This young man has had a totally atypical career: he was a railway employee for two years then turned to producing costume glasses. Paul Morlet buys his goods in China and discovers that the opticians do the same: “I realized the cost price of frames and lenses. I said to myself, ‘Why pay €500 for glasses in France, when actually you can produce prescription glasses at a cost price of €5?’”. Today, it’s goodbye costume glasses. Paul Morlet is hoping to become the foremost optician in France, but what are the secrets of his manufacturing process? This young businessman has just launched a totally new concept: a mobile optician’s store that travels around small towns. In the village of Auby, near Douai, Ludivine, a housewife, is among the first to test this new service. Josip, recently retired from the aviation industry, has hearing problems. Working in client relations at Orly airport, he spent much of his time underneath airplane engines: “I worked three arrivals per day and the only protection we had back in those days was to simply stick our fingers in our ears.” Up till now, he’s chosen not to get a hearing aid, deterred by the price: €1500 per ear on average. Recently, Josip heard about a new system: hearing aids at zero cost. He’s going to test them for a month and see if he can resume a normal life. His dearest wish: to hear his grandson correctly. France is short of ophthalmologists. You often have to wait for months to get an appointment. Entrepreneur François Pelen, has developed a solution: centres where the technical tasks are delegated to paramedics: “In the profession, an ophthalmologist will see on average 35 patients per day. We have an average of 52 patients seen by an ophthalmologist per day. The waiting time for an appointment is 6 days.”. This model has given lots of competitors ideas. Recently a good number of ophthalmological centres have opened and operate a fully reimbursable system: that is, the patients pay nothing up-front for the consultation. We investigated these new centres to see how they operate. Some are suspected of cheating the Social Security system. 22 checks are being carried out in various regions. In 75% of cases, inspectors from the Social Security have uncovered abnormal billing procedures. In all, this fraud is thought to represent tens of millions of Euros. Dental centres are also in fashion. It is said there are more than 1,000 across the country. How do their dentists work? How do they manage to  offer treatment and crowns that are reimbursed at 100%?

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