Does French health insurance cover nicotine replacement therapy?
Reader question: I am an active smoker in France and desperate to quit. I looked into nicotine substitutes (like patches) and I wondered if they were reimbursed by the State or Health Insurance?
The treatment to help people wean themselves off tobacco addiction using nicotine replacement therapy is called nicotine replacement therapy (TSN) in French. This may include patches, candies, pills, etc.
Nicotine patches or sweets used to be reimbursed up to a limit of €150 per year, but this changed in 2019.
Since then, public health reimburses certain nicotine substitutes at 65%, the same rate as drugs. You can see a list of covered treatments here.
You need a prescription from your GP, nurse, dentist or midwife (for pregnant women) to get reimbursement.
Specialist tobaccologists — health professionals who support smokers in their efforts to quit smoking – also exist for anti-smoking advice. You can find the nearest one with this search tool.
Patches, candies, pills and other TSNs can be purchased at pharmacies and they usually offer now third-party payment for this, you do not have to pay in advance the costs covered by your health insurance, if you have a Vitale card and complementary health insurance.
You can also buy these nicotine substitutes without a prescription in pharmacies, but you will not be able to claim reimbursement.
Alongside the standard reimbursement of health care at 65%, more and more mutuals are also reimbursing smoking cessation treatments.
This means that your mutual can cover the remaining 35% of the costs not covered by public insurance, except for an additional €0.50 per treatment for a fee called the medical deductible which you will either have to pay without a refund (if you pay in advance) or which will be automatically deducted from a future refund if you use third-party payment.
Some supplementary insurances also cover the costs of consultations with tobacco specialists as well as (generally within certain limits) alternative therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, hypnosis, etc.
A telephone application, Tobacco info service, provides personalized help with quitting smoking.
The government also has a site aimed at helping people set a goal of a month without smoking, as they say those who do are likely to be able to quit for good.
Smoking in playgrounds is prohibited and subject to a fine of up to €450. Cigarettes must be sold in standardized cigarette packages and smoking is prohibited in cars where minors are present.
The use of e-cigarettes as an alternative, or as a way to cut down, is popular. There is evidence that they are less harmful, at least in the short term.
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