Mutual insurance reform has lowered sales of glasses

The reimbursement rules were tightened in 2015, with a minimum period of two years to renew his glasses, with some exceptions. This change, however, did not affect the average price of a pair of glasses, according to Drees.

The reform of complementary health insurance in 2015 partially achieved its objectives. The creation of “responsible contracts” indeed led to a drop in sales of glasses in 2017, but “did not lead to a significant drop in the average price”, according to a study by the Drees (Department of research, studies, of evaluation and statistics, attached to the Ministry of Health). After years of increase, “the number of glasses sold decreased by 3% in 2017”, indicates the statistical service of social ministries, which makes the link with the reform of “responsible contracts”. Created in 2004, these contracts set obligations for mutuals, insurance companies and provident institutions in exchange for favorable taxation. Almost all complementary health insurance have since become “responsible”.

The rules were tightened in 2015, with a minimum period of two years to renew his glasses, with exceptions. The effect was immediate since the renewal rate fell from 34.6% of eyeglass purchases in 2014 to 23.6% in 2017. In fact, if health insurance reimburses 4% of optical expenses , the share payable by households has steadily decreased over the past ten years in favor of complementary organizations. The reform therefore aimed to slow down the uninterrupted growth of optical expenses borne by mutuals.

It succeeded since the number of glasses sold fell by 3% in 2017. In total, 12 million pairs of glasses were sold in France last year, of which 73% of the expenses were covered by complementary health insurance. , or 4.5 billion euros.

Prices just below the ceilings

The reform also regulated prices, with floors and ceilings for frames and lenses. The ceiling is set at 470 euros for glasses with simple correction and at 750 euros for glasses with complex correction, of which 150 euros maximum for the frame. However, this measure had little effect since the study found that the price of equipment sold remained relatively stable over the period. In fact, according to the Dress, sales focus on “prices just below the caps”. Thus, ultimately, “the average price of a pair of glasses increased very slightly in the years following the reform”: + 0.3% in 2015, + 1.2% in 2016 and + 2% in 2017 , or 469 euros. The authors of the study also note a higher concentration of frame prices around 150 euros since 2015. Thus, in 2017, 47% of frames were sold at a price between 120 euros and 179 euros, against 39% in 2010. “The moderate effects of the reform can be explained by the relatively high levels of the ceilings in relation to the prices most often practiced” previously, estimates the Drees.

The last reform may be more effective. From January 1, 2020, it will offer a basket with capped prices, including 30 euros for frames. On this basket, the remainder to be paid will be zero, with a revaluation of the social security contribution to 18% of the total cost of the equipment and 100% coverage by complementary insurances. Outside of this basket, reimbursement of the frame by additional insurance will be capped at 100 euros.

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