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Mr. Hollande has the right idea, just not the right implementation. As of Real Soon, thanks to a new law, companies will be obliged to provide a Mutuelle for their CDI (proper staff) workers, and after a certain length of time for CDD (fixed-time contract (renewable)) workers.
What this means is: The "Sécu", the health system, will provide for 70% of medical expenses (it's the same for ex-pats with pension rights regardless of whether or not the UK offers 100%; France offers 70%, end of story). Now smart people and people who don't want worries when there are going to be enough worries to fill a church are going to take out a Mutuelle; essentially a top-up that provides the remaining 30%. In France it is apparently normal to pay first and get reimbursed, but a mutuelle that offers "Tiers Payant" is all done electronically so you pay nothing (disclaimer: there's a small fee for doctors visits and some doctors don't accept TP; some medicines are not covered by the Sécu; and it seems many dentists don't accept TP ... the principle is there, however!).
Me? I took out a top-up a while back that offers additional benefits - extra for optic (glasses etc) and dental, a private room if I'm in hospital, that sort of thing.
Now companies will be obliged to provide a mutuelle. This is a good idea on the surface as a lot of low-wage workers can't really afford it (mine is about €35/month) so they wing it and hope they don't end up poorly. The problem is, the law requires the company to provide a mutuelle. This means I will be paying my attractive chosen-by-me mutuelle (~€35/month) plus the useless I-don't-need-this one provided by the company (unknown, I expect ~€20/month). What the hell?
I am considering writing to the Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine, Ministre des Affaires sociales et de la Santé to ask why people who already took the initiative to cover themselves are being penalised in this way, and to suggest an option.
The option is as follows:
The employee will provide a copy of either their mutuelle contract or their card (you get a card demonstrating your rights). This will be attached to a letter that you will sign stating on your honour that you have and will maintain a mutuelle of your own. The company will then include a small payment (around €15, not more than the "part patronale" (the amount they would pay anyway)) in your wages.
In this way, the employer's requirement has been fulfilled (they are part-paying for your health cover), the employee's requirement has been fulfilled (they have health cover), and the law has been satisfied.
Now the employee could cancel their policy and blow the money on booze and fags (well, you can't get much of those with €15!), but if receiving money for a mutuelle you don't have is classed as an infraction, that can be dealt with by the legal process.
This is a lot fairer than swiping around twenty euros from the wages of a low-paid worker for something that provides me with no actual benefit. And no, I won't give up my existing mutuelle, you get certain benefits for length of term with them.
This is, of course, before we even get to questions like - I go to hospital for a CT scan, which mutuelle pays? I can't be reimbursed twice for the same thing. I'm not even sure of the legalities of having two mutuelles at the same time.
It is, on the face of it, a good idea. It's just the implementation needs to be fixed.
Vide greniers - last week
Last week's vide grenier was a small town that was quite good, and a big town that was awful - we gave up before we reached the end because the amount of tat was mind-numbing. Not to mention girls with shoes that open out as they walk, there was dust billowing out of their shoes - there was so much dust it was forming a very noticable layer on everything (including my eyeballs!).
Anyway - here's last week's haul:
Castaway SIMs and epic-chess for the PS2, a DVD of KYO (a French group), an Adiemus CD (a ClassicFM compilation), and waterproof housing for my video camera that was sadly too small (oh well, it only cost a couple of euros), and finally for practically pocket change, the pièce de résistance: it's a bluetooth handsfree device for use in cars (or on a table if I'm lazy) that also features an FM transmitter to punt the sound to a radio, in stereo too. It is a Motorola T505 (old, but Amazon.com is listing it for sixty dollars!). Pairing with the phone wasn't hard. I downloaded the user guide (PDF) onto my phone to change it to English. The radio transmitter told me it was using 90.4 and tuning the car radio to that sounded okay - poor mom had to put up with Mikio Sakai, some MeatLoaf, and some Dido. I didn't hit her with nano.RIPE (that would be cruel and unusual).
Vide grenier - today
Today got me a proper bamboo parasol (hand painted too), a wooden box with glass lid to store tea in (only a euro, are you kidding me!?), the PS2 game Resident Evil Code: Veronica X, and finally a replacement audio/video lead for the PS2 as mine was a little dodgy (had to wobble it to get video and audio that didn't hum).
Here's the design of the parasol:
And here's the inside:
These are real images taken with my phone (Xperia Mini Pro). There has been no editing other than crop, resize, and watermark. Especially, the colours have not been altered. What you see is what the sunset was like.
First, the panoramic view:
Now let's get a little closer:
Now for the epic holy-crap-the-sky-is-on-fire view. I repeat, this is not a fake:
You can kind of understand how people in olden days could believe in God. All you need is a wise-ass to say something like "Over there? God is unhappy. He is raining fire from the sky. Now do what I tell you or he will be unhappy with you, too.".
These days? We understand sunsets, we understand clouds, and we understand the rotation of the Earth (that, really, ought to have been obvious since the invention of the sundial). So these things aren't scary, they're just awesome looking.
Then again, maybe the mothership rained down biblical torment on the people of western Brittany? [looks at newspaper website] Naaah...
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© 2012 Rick Murray
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